The Remedy by Suzanne Young

remedy_suzanneyoung“I can’t remember who I am,” I say. “I’m not sure what’s real anymore.”

Actress. Imposter. Closer. Quinlan’s job is to step in and pretend to be whoever died to help families through the grieving process. She changes her hair, her clothes, and mimics them to the best of her abilities. She gives families the closure they need to keep going on with their lives despite the death of their loved one, but it is always only temporary.

Quinn is very good at her job. So good, in fact, that she can’t always tell her own past from the past of assignments. Quinn immerses herself so fully into her job that it’s hard to pull herself out. Especially on this new case. It’s the longest assignment to date, almost immediately after her last assignment. It might be too soon, but Quinn has no choice. She can’t say no to her boss when it’s her father.

“This isn’t my house. Isn’t my life. I let mine go and now I can’t find it. There’s nothing familiar to pull me back. I don’t know who I am.”

The only person who really gets Quinn is her mostly-ex-boyfriend Deacon. He was a Closer but quit a few months ago, around the time he quit on their relationship. Quinn still loves Deacon, but the last time she tried to let him back into her heart he shattered it. That makes twice where Quinn has felt him pull away. She isn’t sure if Deacon is worth risking her heart again.

Especially when her new assignment consists of consoling the decease’s boyfriend, Isaac. He’s cute, which may be part of the problem. The longer the assignment goes, the harder it is for Quinn to separate her own life from the assignment. It would be so easy to just forget about her life as Quinn and live happily in the dead girl’s world where she is treasured as a daughter and girlfriend. But throughout the assignment, Quinn can tell there’s something different about it.

Maybe it’s the secret about how her assignment died. Maybe it’s the mysteriously missing pages from the diary. Maybe it’s the dead girl’s friend who disappeared from existence. Whatever it is, Quinn is on the case. But the more she learns, the more secrets she finds. If Quinn isn’t careful, she might go so far into her role that she will lose herself in the process.

-Nicole G.

The Remedy is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

Event Recap: Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Tour

summerlovin2.0Over the summer, I had the pleasure to meet four amazing authors at the Mission Viejo Library as a part of the Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Book Tour. These authors include Suzanne Young, Sarah Ockler, C.J. Flood and Jody Casella. Although I haven’t read any of their books yet, I got two at the event (Bittersweet and #Scandal) and I cannot wait to read them! I along with other people asked questions about how they became authors, where they get inspiration and how it affects their day-to-day life.

One question that stood out to me was “How long did it take for you to write your books?” because the answers vary so greatly depending on who you are. For example, for Jody Casella (who used Nanowrimo) took a full year to complete. Meanwhile Sarah Ockler finished her hit #Scandal in 4 years. Jody Casella’s Infinite Sky took three to four years to complete. The funny thing about writing is that its like riding a bike (yes, I know such a cliché simile but yes, I’m going to use it!) at first you’re wobbling, its hard to keep your balance and takes forever. But once you get the hang of it, its a much smoother ride that takes much less time. Just like the simile, Suzanne Young wrote her first book in 4 moths and now it only takes one month for her to finish a writing.

We then asked what these four writers do when they’re not you know, writing. Jody Casella’s only job is to write books although she was once an English teacher at a high school. Sarah Ockler is also a full time writer, as well as CJ Flood. Suzanne Young is a high school English teacher.

More questions followed and so did more answers. These four women are such inspirations for aspiring authors and its amazing to hear each of their stories. At the end of the event, we were given pizza and soda. Quite the way to end such a fun event. These writers were awesome to meet and I’m so glad I went.

-Danielle T., 8th grade

Event Recap: Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Tour Stop

SummerLovin2-squareSummer is finally upon us, and to kick off this time of year the Mission Viejo Library hosted four authors of young adult fiction to come and speak as part of Simon & Schuster Publishing’s Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Tour.

First to speak was Jody Casella, the author of Thin Space. This book is about a boy whose twin has just died in a car accident. As he is a survivor of the crash, he feels that his brother’s death was his responsibility, so he spends his time walking around with no shoes, trying to enter the thin space between the living and the dead world to make things right. This is Casella’s sixth book, and though she is not a twin herself, the losses that she has had in her life allow her to make the loss in the book realistic for readers. Casella had always wanted to be a writer and though she chose teaching as a career at first, she let that go to pursue writing. Now, she spends pretty much every day in her pajamas, except when she has to walk her dog, working on multiple projects. (Sounds pretty comfortable!)

summer_lovin_leila01The next author who spoke was Sarah Ockler, who described her newest book, #scandal. This book is about an introverted high school girl whose best friend gets sick right before prom and asks her to go to the dance with her boyfriend. This causes problems since the girl has secretly had a crush on that boy for several years. When a picture of the two of them gets posted online, the girl has to deal with the aftermath. Ockler came up with the idea for this novel based on her own experience with people who had shifted relationships and much of their lives to online connections. When asked about the hardest part of writing, Ockler responded that the revision process is probably the most difficult and time consuming. In her spare time, she reads YA literature exclusively as adult literature has become a bore for her.

Next, the audience heard from Suzanne Young, the author of The Program and its sequel, The Treatment. This series is set in the near future where teen suicide has become an epidemic, and the government has set up the Program to erase teens’ most scarring memories. It deals with the theme of how you would live your life without a memory. Would you make the same friends? How would you respond to certain events? Young stated that the idea for these novels was actually derived from a commercial listing the side effects of a particular drug. That got Young thinking what the world would be like if everyone took that drug. Young is currently a high school teacher, and she says that when her books come out, her students are very excited that she is a published author. Her students can receive extra credit if they attend her book signings! She even lets some of her senior students comment on the storyline of a soon-to-be novel to get input to help her write.

summer_lovin_leila02The last author to speak to the audience on Sunday was C.J. Flood, who complained of being jet-lagged from her journey from England. Infinite Sky is her first novel, just like this was Flood’s first trip to the United States and her first time trying a Tootsie Roll, which surprisingly, she strongly disliked! Infinite Sky is about a girl who has to deal with her mother being gone, her father not acting right, and her brother being depressed. The story starts out with the girl attending a funeral, but you won’t know who she’s mourning unless you read the book. This story comes indirectly from Flood’s own life, since her parents got divorced when she was eight years old. At the moment, Flood does not work on multiple projects, but in the future she hopes to do so and to be able to write books faster, like the other authors in the panel.

Overall, this was a fantastic event. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the lives of these authors outside of the book writing. They were very encouraging to aspiring writers and gave attendants a sense of the pride that one feels after publishing a novel.

And, to top it all off, there was free pizza and soda at the conclusion of the event!

– Leila S., 8th Grade

Event Recap: Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Tour Stop

SummerLovin2-squareAs part of Simon & Schuster Publishing’s Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Tour, four YA authors came to the Mission Viejo Library on June 22 to introduce their new books. Still looking for a summer reading list? Search no more. Try out The Treatment, #scandal, Infinite Sky, and Thin Space, by their respective authors Suzanne Young, Sarah Ockler, C.J Flood, and Jody Casella. Here come the next big hits of the year!

All of these books feature teens, as do most YA books these days. The Treatment by Suzanne Young tells of a near future where a suicide epidemic has resulted in the creation of a program that wipes a person’s depression, along with their memories. The only known reversal of the process is the Treatment, a small pill which brings back memories, and it’s over this that our good and bad guys clash. Suzanne writes a very unique thriller, playing on the question: Without our memories and experiences, are we still the same person?

While we are on the memories theme, #scandal by Sarah Ockler reminds us that social media can preserve memories all too well. On prom night, Lucy is photographed kissing her best friend’s boyfriend. When someone posts these pictures to Facebook, things quickly spiral out of control. Soon, Lucy becomes the victim of bullying and shaming at her high school. This book is best described as a mesh of Sherlock Holmes and Mean Girls.

In Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood a band of gypsies set up camp near Iris’ home. She befriends a gypsy boy named Trick, and slowly falls in love. However, the two families clash, as Iris’ father is convinced they only present trouble. Soon, trouble indeed presents itself. When the emotional rollercoaster runs loose, you’ll be reminded of Romeo and Juliet.

Our final book is Thin Space by Jody Casella. It tells of two twins, Austin and Marshall. When Austin dies in a car accident, Marshall is consumed by survivor’s guilt, and begins falling apart. In his desperation, he begins searching for a thin space, where the walls separating the worlds of the living and dead are thin enough to cross. Overall, this book has a somewhat dark mood, like the still silence after tragedy.

summerlovin2.0Besides showing off their new books, these authors also gave us insight on their writing process. Often times, authors come up with ideas based on their own life experiences, and make a story out of it. Characters can come from anywhere: family, friends, people you meet at the grocery store. Of course, the next step is to actually put the story together. Writing is looking at the wall and daydreaming– until the storyline makes it onto paper. Sometimes, authors work on multiple projects at a time as the publisher reviews the book.

Most of these authors started out as part-time writers and gradually built up confidence. So, to any aspiring writers out there, keep pursuing your dreams, even if it’s in small steps at a time. Did you know Suzanne Young started by writing murder mysteries in sixth grade? Who knows– maybe one day you’ll publish a book for us to review on here.

-Phillip X., 8th grade

Book Review: The Treatment, by Suzanne Young

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“The girl I used to be is dead-The Program killed her. And for better for better or for worse, I’m what’s left.”

Starting where The Program left off, Sloane and her boyfriend James are on the run. They barely survived The Program, an organization that “cures” teenagers from depression by stealing their memories, isn’t ready to let them go.

When forced to team up with some rebels, Sloane and James have the time to ask themselves who they are. Without their memories, so much of their past is unknown. How much of their life is a lie? The good news is, they have an orange pill, more commonly known as The Treatment, that can bring back their memories and ensure those memories will be safe from The Program forever. The bad news is, there are two of them and only one pill, a pill The Program won’t rest until they find.

This book felt less dark than the first. Since they have been “cured,” suicide is more a thing talked about other people doing rather than the main characters contemplating doing themselves. Instead, they learn to accept that they must live for the present, leaving the past behind them, if they ever want to live for the future.

It always seems more hopeful, at least for me, when characters are on the more instead of isolated in a single area when they are being hunted down. There are plenty more places to hide and ways to evade, but when The Program needs to keep their 100% success rate, it could only be a matter of time. If or when they are caught, it won’t be the same as before. Because this time, The Program won’t merely take their memories. This time, their personality will be sucked out of them as well.

I don’t think it is necessary to read the first book in the series. All crucial elements of The Program is revealed over the course of the novel, whether referred to directly or indirectly varied. Other than understanding the characters and their situation better, I think it would have been more interesting for me to learn along with the characters the past events and who people are versus who they claim to be.

Even so, I believe the mature content of the book she be reserved for older teens. Depression and suicide, even in a futuristic world, still seems so terrifyingly real.

This review is based on an advance reader’s copy. The Treatment, published by Simon & Schuster, will be available in bookstores everywhere on April 29.

-Nicole G., 10th grade

Book Review: The Program, by Suzanne Young

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“I’m going to die if I don’t cry right now. The sorrow is going to rip through my chest and kill me.” p. 43

The Program by Suzanne Young is unlike any book I have ever read before, set in a dystopian society with one key change to the world today. It takes place in a time when teen suicide is high, the government institutes The Program to “cure” depression. It also strips your memories and the essence of who you are.

“Would we commit suicide without The Program, or does it drive us there?” p. 63

Sloane has seen suicide firsthand, her brother’s. James, who is both her boyfriend and brother’s best friend, was also there. Now they live with survivors guilt. They both support each other and need each other to survive. Are their promises enough to withstand The Program?

It is never a matter if The Program will find you, but when they will. They will be free of The Program when they reach 18, but will they last that long? Can Sloane hold on to her love for James if her past is taken from her forever?

This is not a happy, light read kind of book. It deals with harsh topics plaguing society to this day. It is written in a way that feels so real, I have to remind myself it is only a story. I honestly had to put the book down a couple times just to cry; it was so sad.

Yet, I needed to know what happens next. The worst part is having likable characters that can’t fight back. At least, not at first. Even when it seemed hopeless, there was always some part of me that wished things would get better. You have to read the book to find out how it ends.

Due to the topic, this book is recommended for older teens. If you want a book that is deep and meaningful, (and will make you cry) this is the book for you.

-Nicole G., 10th grade