Friday, 11 May 2012

Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

The Future of Us by Jay Asher, Carolyn Mackler
Authors: Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Publication Date: November 21, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill (imprint of Penguin Group USA)
Pages: 356
Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary, Time Travel, Science Fiction
Source: Borrowed from Library

Book Description:
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.


I am thoroughly a 90’s kid and in 1996, my sister had just gotten our first computer, which ran ye olde Windows 95 operating system. It was a heavy brick of a machine, with a teeny tiny screen (compared to today’s bigger than you are tall screens!) and cost a fortune to buy! 

Soon after these started showing up in our mail:
(I actually managed to find one remaining in our junk drawer!)

So when there was a huge buzz about The Future of Us and when I looked up the synopsis of the book, I HAD to read it, if only for nostalgia’s sake.

This book completely brought me back to the 90’s and growing up. Especially with the references to dial up Internet access (we had to get a second phone line because we were glued to the computer so often), discman’s (these were crap, seriously no matter how much they slapped “anti-skip” technology on it, it still skipped, I’m looking at YOU Sony) - you were better off with a walkman (do you younger readers even know what these are anymore??), beepers/pagers and kids still playing *gasp* outside?!

But it was such an interesting mix to suddenly have this retro feel clash with something more modern like Facebook. I giggled at the parts where they were trying to navigate Facebook and in my mind I went “oh I know what that is ahaha”.

The cover features our main characters with a bit of a binary computer twist, which was really fitting for the computer basis of the story.

The Future of Us is written in alternating views from two main characters Josh and Emma as they discover Facebook and all the possible routes that their futures can take. When we’re first introduced to the two characters, something major has happened between these two childhood best friends- seriously you know what happens when a girl and a guy who have been friends forever finally hit puberty and hormones are raging? Yup, you got it.

Emma’s character is your typical teenager, she’s a sports star, dating nothing but good looking guys with the IQ of a rock, trying to figure out her future goals and dealing with parental teenager induced drama. So when she finally figures out what Facebook does, of course her first reaction is to find out who she ends up with, then subsequently who Josh ends up with, and then she starts digging into her friends and family, instead of you know useful stuff like what companies to invest in or preventing worldwide catastrophic disasters? Although, there were some definitely awesome twists with what they learn from Facebook about their friends and family.

Josh is more laid back, he sees his future, and for the most part he’s happy with the results. It’s when Emma starts making decisions based on what she sees that’s causing a butterfly effect through the space time continuum (sorry I’ve watched far too many science fiction shows) that he starts questioning if this whole thing is doing more harm than good.

But Emma…oh Emma. At first I was really intrigued by this whole concept, if I could see the future, there’s things I’d definitely look up and probably change if I could. After seeing Emma’s initial future, I will definitely acquiesce to the decisions that she makes to alter her life course, but it’s the subsequent decisions that irk me. After awhile it just seemed like the story was on repeat, and that NOTHING her new lives gave her was ever good enough for her. This also ends up making her doing crazy irrational things that could implode the universe into a black hole!! Okay, I’m being dramatic, but seriously she starts making really bad decisions and dragging her friends down with her.

After some downward spiralling and then finally hitting rock bottom, there’s this huge epiphany on both of their parts (but I have to say I’m very disappointed in Josh’s decision), and it tries to wrap things up in a morally lessoned neat bow. I just felt there were some continuity issues, especially with the secondary characters like Kellan (they dropped a huge bomb) that never fully got resolved.

This is my first Asher and first Mackler book I’ve ever read, and the writing styles combined kept a good tempo, with easy to follow distinct character voices for Josh and Emma and really dynamic supporting characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the flashback to the 90’s and it was definitely a unique way of "time travelling". 

Rating: 4/5 Hot Cups of Tea!
I loved travelling down the 90's nostalgia lane, and it was an entertaining read even if it didn't end up like I wanted.

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