The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Razorbill, 356 Pages
Released: November 21, 2011
It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.
By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.
"He broke your heart! How can you call it love when he hurt you so badly?"
Kellan pops another fry into her mouth. "It was love because it was worth it."
I loved the nostalgia factor to the book. 1996 was probably one of the first years fully in my memory, where I was old enough (I was 9 that year) to understand and process and have interests and be aware of my life - and this brought me back to a pretty good place. The music wasn't what I listed to (long live 90s R&B jamz!) but it still elicits some strong memories, and I loved all the other references.
Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only thing I really liked. The story is ok, revolving around a typical scenario of best friends and the awkwardness of one wanting more. But it was underdeveloped and very unexciting. There weren't any scenes I was particularly attached to, nothing that made me gasp or cry or really feel anything.
The premise of seeing the future via Facebook is interesting, and it's a fine literary device - but it felt like they could have done so much more with this. Having access to everyone's future? Seeing the details of your life? Seeing the changes you make in your life? Emma touched on it when she purposefully altered things, but not much else was done. It felt like Josh and Emma were supposed to play two very different views on seeing Facebook, but nothing ever came of it. Their feelings and actions just weren't strong enough.
I also found Emma to be incredibly selfish and bothersome and frankly, stubbornly cynical. Everything was about her future, her life, her likes, her husband(s), her unhappiness. She never had a positive view on anything! I just wanted to slap her through the pages and tell her to find a silver lining or look on the bright side!
A disappointing foray, but still an ok story in itself. The derision Emma and Josh have towards Facebook is amusing and tacked on the +.5 rating.
2.5 stars / 5