Written by Suzanne Young
Number of pages: 402
Average Rating: 4.30/5 stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars (again)
Published April 21, 2015
Read again in May 2016
Summary according to goodreads
Quinlan McKee is a closer. Since the age of seven, Quinn has held the responsibility of providing closure to grieving families with a special skill - she can "become" anyone.
Quinn is hired by families to take on the short-term role of a deceased loved one between the ages of fifteen and twenty. She's not an exact copy, of course, but she wears their clothes and changes her hair, and studies them through pictures and videos. Soon, Quinn can act like them, smell like them, and be them for all intents and purposes. But to do her job successfully, she can't get attached.
Now seventeen, Quinn is deft at recreating herself, sometime confusing her own past with those of the people she's portrayed. When she's given her longest assignment, playing the role of Catalina Barnes, Quinn begins to bond with the deceased girl's boyfriend. But that's only the beginning of the complications, especially when Quinn finds out the truth about Catalina's death. And the epidemic it could start.
I decided to read this novel again in order to refresh my memories on some of the smaller details, before I picked up the sequel. It had been almost a year since I read this, and I could only remember the general plot and the basic elements of the characters. The Program is one of my favourite young-adult series, but unfortunately the prequels have not yet lived up to my expectations.
The first time I read this novel I was going to give it three stars because I did not like the plot. The idea of a family hiring a "replacement" to their deceased child was astounding to me, and something I could never imagine how it would help the family. I am not sure whether it is because I have since taken many psychology classes, or just because I was already familiar with the world, but I better understood and appreciated the way these doctors were dealing with the grief. Although I am still not a huge fan of this concept, in the real world at least, I like how it was done in the novel - especially that there were members of society who were completely disgusted by it.
I envy Suzanne Young so much because she has a remarkable ability to create an atmosphere that I can feel, using only words. All of her settings and characters were vibrant and alive, but she was also able to make the reader feel like they were in the setting with Quinn. Quinn was a good character to read, she was strong and independent, but knew when to reach out for help.She has been working in this field for a long time, but deep down she wanted to have a normal teenage life - which made her more susceptible to attachment. I did not enjoy her father's character because I could not imagine my mother putting me in the situations Quinn was in. Her partner Aaron and ex-boyfriend Deacon were great friends for her that kept her grounded, and provided some helpful advice and much-needed humour to the story.
The ending was just as amazing reading it the second time around, and it was not until I was more than halfway through the novel that I remembered what the twist was. This novel was so captivating, I felt like I was reading it for the first time. Suzanne Young is an amazing writer, and I will read anything that she writes.
I believe that I would have liked this novel much better if it had been shorter. There were a lot of interactions and scenes that I did not feel were necessary except to add length, and taking these away would have made it a much quicker read. I am very excited to see where this story progresses and only have a few ideas of what could happen - but no idea how it will end. I really hope that it ties in nicely to The Program, but that we reach a satisfying conclusion with these characters.