Also by this author: The Program, The Treatment
Series: The Program #0.5
Published by Simon Pulse on April 21, 2015
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, YA
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, sometimes 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.
The Remedy is a prequel to The Program duology, set in the same world but with different characters. I read the duology just last month and instantly fell in love with the way Suzanne Young tells stories. She has a way of just bringing you in, in, in, and then twisting everything around that you thought you knew. And this prequel does the exact same thing. Although I for sure had some hesitations on this one. But let’s talk about it.
[Disclaimer: I’m not trying to but there may be some accidental spoilers to the original duology. So if you haven’t read those, here is my review for The Program and for The Treatment. So read the reviews. Then go read the books. And then come back. Or if you want to press on without reading the books, here is your “Swim at Own Risk” sign.]
Quinn is a closer. When a family is grieving over the loss of a loved one, a closer will go in, dress up, learn mannerisms, and essentially be that dead person so the family is able to gain closure. They’re able to say the things they needed to say, to hear the things they still need to hear, and ultimately to give their goodbyes and move on. And Quinn is one of these people. She has been her entire life. It’s all she knows and that’s so interesting because all she knows is a life pretending to be other people.
Suzanne Young is queen of building characters who are unreliable due to not fully remembering everything. In the Program, people were physically manipulating and drugging the memories out of Sloane. Here, Quinn has lived so many different lives, it’s hard to know what is real and what isn’t. And I love this. In The Program, it was really gradual and we knew a lot of the things that they was forgetting. This book was different though. We didn’t really experience Quinn’s life beforehand so when her memories are coming…she doesn’t know if they’re real. And we don’t really know if they’re real. So it’s a very interesting reading experience.
One thing I liked about this book is that I feel as if Young had to carefully and deliberately work at each word. Quinn is literally acting as a daughter to a grieving family. She pretends to be the girl who just passed away. Because of this she calls the parents “my mom,” and “my dad.” But there are times when she’s just thinking when she uses the “my” pronoun and times she uses “your” or “their” instead. It seemed so deliberately chosen for each one. And the pronouns progress! Ah, I’m such a nerd. I’m freaking out about the progression and change of pronouns in a book. AND I DON’T CARE. It’s awesome! Even if you hadn’t picked up on this slight thing, the smallest of words can have the largest of impacts in our minds. Without us even knowing. It affects how we perceive Quinn and the characters around us. *sighs* Words are beautiful things. Even the pronouns.
And the epilogueeeeeee. Oh my word the epilogue. If Young is queen of unreliable, complicated characters, she’s absolutely master of the universe at amazing mind-twisting epilogues. I talk about this in The Program review, too, but they’re just so good. I was actually getting antsy towards the end of the book because I knew the epilogue was coming and so I knew everything I believed was about to be crushed under Suzanne Young’s mighty pen. And yes, it happened. And now I need the sequel to the prequel. Oh my goodness.
But there were some more hesitations to this book than the other two. First, I knew what was going to happen the entire time. Not about the crazy epilogue, obviously. But about another big aspect of it. And I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’m going to use this handy dandy spoiler thing. Don’t click if you don’t want to be spoiled. View Spoiler »But obviously Quinn was going to start to lose her own identity in the midst of all the other lives she’s lived and false memories she has. There were clues from the beginning. Like the early mention of closers disappearing, leaving their real lives. And then all of a sudden they’re sending Quinn out on a super-secret “this-isn’t-supposed-to-happen” mission. Those two things were like a bells in my head, “*Ding!* Quinn is also going to lose herself in this big, secret, out-of-the-normal, this-is-against-protocol mission.” But at the same time, even though I figured it was going to happen, I still freaked out with her while she started to lose herself. And then the people around her started to forget who she was and I still freaked out. I think there was a moment where I just shut the book for a minute because I couldn’t handle Isaac thinking she was Catalina. Bah. « Hide Spoiler Wow, that was my first time using the handy dandy spoiler thing so that’s exciting. And while this problem was still an issue for me, I still freaked out and the plot was still suspenseful so it wasn’t a huge problem. Does that sentence I just wrote even make sense? I don’t know. Movin’ on.
I just realized for my other problem I’m going to have to get spoilery on you again. Hmmm. How can I phrase this? My second problem is kind of the same thing as the first but in a different respect. Okay, actually I don’t think this really spoils anything. Because we know The Program and The Treatment are about the giant epidemic that is suicide. One in three teenagers kill themselves. And then The Remedy is before that. I don’t know how much before that, but it couldn’t be more than a couple of years at the most. But suicide is practically never mentioned. It’s hinted, hinted, hinted at. And I think Young expects us as readers to know because (hopefully) we’ve read the first two. But the characters seem so oblivious to this. If it was such an epidemic, how did they keep it secret? Especially to closers, people working in the grief department, working closely with people who may be depressed due to loss of loved ones. I don’t get that. I know that suicide and depression are problems today and in this series, I’m assuming it’s so, so much worse. So this was my biggest issue with the concept at hand.
BUT. Despite those issues, this book was super good. I enjoyed the new set of characters and am excited to see where they go in the sequel. I enjoyed seeing the precursor to the Program and the storyline Young created behind her original novel. I enjoy the suspense and the crazy epilogues. So read this series! If you like dystopian, you’ll like this.