Book Buddies is a discussion-style review that takes place with one of my two buddies. (Learn more and see past reviews here) We both read the book and then have a private discussion about it. We post our discussion as a review on the last Wednesday of each month. You’ll be able to see our similar/different opinions on the overall book, characters, writing style, etc. – just like a regular review. The first half our discussion will take place right here, and the second half will be on Kaitlin’s blog! (Link below)
The Remedy by Suzanne Young
Series: The Program #.5
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia
Published by Simon and Schuster on April 21st 2015
Also by this author: Just Like Fate, The Program, The Treatment, Hotel Ruby, The Epidemic, The Adjustment, The Complication , Girls with Sharp Sticks
Format: Hardcover (416 pages) • Source: Library
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
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.
View Kaitlin’s part of the discussion here.
Some spoilers ahead!
In the climax of the book, Quinn becomes too entangled in Catalina’s life and can’t remember who she is anymore. Did you feel for her in that moment, or did you feel like she was straight up deranged?
Kaitlin: I obviously don’t understand much about this “being a closer” thing because I thought Quinn was overreacting a little. The thing is, it’s not like whenever you go into an assignment you’re brainwashed. It takes time to adjust to being a new person but over time it becomes easier to live the life of someone dead. Plus, she has been a closer for so long, you would think Quin knew how to pretend to be someone without actually thinking they were that person rather than themselves. I also had to consider the fact that she wasn’t “Quinlan McKee” for 2 weeks. That definitely could have messed with her head a bit. I don’t know! I feel like it was a bit of an overreaction seeing as all you need to do is pretend to be someone but I don’t understand what it’s like to be a closer haha.
Lauren: I know what you mean! I wish we saw some glimpses into her other assignments so we could see if this was a “regular” thing for her. Did she usually get THAT attached and engrossed in the person’s life? Or was this situation different for some reason? I think that there’s obviously a good reason for keeping the assignments far away from each other and she went into this one too quickly, but I definitely thought she was a bit crazy. She literally thought she was the real Catalina. I think some of it also had to do with being with Catalina’s boyfriend.
Are you glad you read them in this order? Do you think it would have made a difference for you if you read them by chronological/timeline order instead of by pub date?
Kaitlin: I honestly don’t really care on which order I read these books. There wasn’t crucial information I needed to know in order to read The Remedy or the Program. If there was that probably would have affected the way I see The Remedy because of the fact that it would feel like I was missing information when reading (which I would be if there was information I need in the Program in order to read the Remedy). If I did just start this series though, I would have probably read the books in order of publication date. So yeah, I am pretty happy with the fact that I read the Program duology before reading The Remedy.
Lauren: I agree. I like to stick with pub date usually, for a couple of reasons. Some people read this series as each book came out, and the author published them in a specific order… In my mind, that’s the way they should be read. If I read the first book when it was published I would have no choice but to read this book last. I’m not sure it would have made a big difference if I read the duology first though, now that I’ve read all three. If anything, I would have had a little more information about how everything got started.
How does this story tie into some of the theories we’ve talked about for how the epidemic and the program got started? Do you have new theories, especially about Virginia Pritchard?
Kaitlin: This book doesn’t really answer questions how the epidemic started other than a few mentions of Arthur Pritchard. I don’t know the full story of Catalina’s death but Virginia definitely had something to do-whether it affected Catalina’s mood change or even her death. I want to take a guess and say Virginia probably does have some kind of effect on the epidemic and how it began. If she could have an effect on someone like she did with Catalina and cause her to kill herself, then her and other people definitely could have done that to more people.
Lauren: I’m not sure what my theories are yet because I’m usually pretty bad about guessing what’s going to happen in books! I can tell that she has SOMETHING to do with all of it, especially because of who her father is. I just don’t know how one person’s happiness (or sadness, I guess) can impact so many people so quickly – to the point of an epidemic. There has to be something else going on there.
The whole book seems to get turned on its head towards the end – especially in the epilogue. Were you shocked by some of the events, specifically about what Quinn learned about herself and what the readers learned about Deacon?
Kaitlin: I was definitely a lot more shocked about Quinn’s past rather than what I learned about Deacon. I actually read the epilogue very slowly, thoroughly and covered the paragraphs I hadn’t read yet just so I didn’t look ahead and spoil myself (something I do too much of). What made me have a more shocked event about Quinn’s discovery rather than Deacon’s what was the fact that the writing and events leading up to Quinn’s discover scene was a lot more tense and had an “OMG TELL ME WHAT IT IS ALREADY!” feeling to it. Finding out about Deacon was less exciting and shocking because it’s simple: I was too confused and wanted to find out on what was happening and kind of didn’t pay attention to what was being said rather and more to what was happening and what is the purpose of this meeting?! (I did reread the epilogue just to make sure I understood what exactly was happening) Both events were pretty shocking, but I did find Quinn’s discovery more shocking…
Lauren: I agree! I was more surprised by what we learned about Quinn. It’s funny you say that, about reading ahead, because I ALWAYS do that! I find my eyes drifting to another paragraph on the page and getting ahead of myself. I did fall victim to it a little bit during the epilogue because I had read something on a blog that said how crazy the epilogue was… and I wanted to see what was going to happen! Overall I wasn’t completely shocked for some reason, but Quinn’s revelation was crazy. I honestly can’t even imagine how it would feel to find out what she did. She literally figured out that her entire life has been a lie. I would imagine that she spends the upcoming book trying to figure out her real identity. She’s always been a closer, but she never knew exactly how true that was! Poor girl. She has no REAL identity.
I found an interesting discussion question the publisher’s website that may be interesting: Quinn writes to Isaac, in a moment of uncharacteristic emotional overflow, “I have feelings, you know.” What about her dynamic with Isaac brought out these authentic emotions? Quinn knows, from extensive training, that she must keep her real self hidden during assignments. Why has she deviated during this particular assignment? What are the triggers?
Kaitlin: Such an interesting question! I definitely think it’s because of the fact that she has never had a “boyfriend” when doing what she does. This whole assignment pulled a bunch of strings and the fact that Quin had a boyfriend was something only someone who had done closing for THAT long could pull off. Before the actual assignment began, she was a bit curious about Isaac and the fact that it seemed like he hated her guts really brought into affect of Quin breaking her character.
Lauren: There were a lot of factors in this closing assignment that were harder for her. She’s never dealt with a boyfriend figure in the past, so that was a major issue. She had no idea how to help him get over her girlfriend, so it made her step even further into that relationship. I think she didn’t know what else to do. I also think it was waaaay too much for her to go into another closing assignment so soon after finishing one. She had no time to regroup and become “herself” again in between. I think overall her emotions were running higher than usual and that impacted them spilling over a bit.
Do you think there are any merits to the remedy that the closers provide? Quinn says that she’s an “empty vessel” for people to pour their emotions into. Do you think that’s fair for her to have to do? Would something like closers work in our society, or is it too crazy?
Kaitlin: First, I think closing in our society would definitely not be a good idea so we can just get that out of the way for now. Too weird, too many legal issues, and please. Who would let a stranger sleep in their house? I do think closing is effective in some points though. It really won’t be able to help the people who are too deep in their pain to even think about closure but to the people who didn’t get to say goodbye, it could help. People should also do closing for as long as they can handle. It was a little too much for me to know that Quin had been a closer for what? 10 years? I can’t do that. Pull a facade for 2-4 days at a time for 10 years. No no no. If she could handle it, by all means do as many years as you will! But having someone force you to do handling is too much and just not healthy.
Lauren: I think role playing usually works pretty well in therapy, but you’re right – this system is way too much. I could never imagine trying it out in my family or being a closer. I can see how she’s able to be an “empty vessel” for people to use in whatever way they need, but that’s way too draining! I could never do that. Therapists dealing with grief and family issues can help with role playing for therapy and I think that works well in our society. Closing is too weird and it gives me the creeps.
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