Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: The Future of Us

The Future of Us
By Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

Published:  November 21st 2011 by Razorbill
Read from:  January 19 - 21, 2012
Number of pages: 356
Source:  HS Library
Find it on:
goodreadsindie Bound

Summary: 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.

The premise of this book is what drew me in. Getting a chance to see your life 15 years in the future via facebook (which in 1996 was a LONG way from being invented) sounded interesting.

First let me give you bit of my personal background I grew up in the ‘90s. I was born in the early ‘80s and I can say I was a child of the 80s all I want, but, I don’t really have a strong memory of the ‘80s *outside of Saturday morning cartoons and Disney movies*.  The ‘90s, however, I lived through and remember most of it pretty well. In 1996 when this story was taking place I was 12 years old, so I was able to connect with pretty much all of the pop culture references the book had to offer, and that is what I LOVED about the book. I remember getting  AOL disc in the mail ALL the time, the old Windows 95 screen savers, seeing Toy Story in the theaters, and much more.

I feel to truly appreciate these references the reader needs to have living memory of the ‘90s, so I’m not sure if teens will really understand and appreciate all the pop culture references that were in the book. With that being said I think this book would be better enjoyed by 20-30somethings who actually remember 1996.

Another thing I found interesting about the book was Emma and Josh’s reactions to facebook. Everything from wondering why the website is filled with such trivial information like what they had for dinner that night, to reactions to future events. I literally laughed out at the following passage:

Josh Templeton
Helped my son put together a model of the solar system today.
may 8 at 10:26 am . Like

    Terry Fernandez
    We did that last year. Made me feel nostalgic for Pluto that was always my
    favorite planet.
    May 9 at 8:07 am . Like

    Josh Templeton
    Poor Pluto! :-(
    May 9 at 9:13 am . Like

I flinch “What the hell happens to Pluto?” (page 79)

I remember how facebook went crazy when Pluto was demoted, and I can absolutely see a 30-something helping his kid with this project and posting something like this on facebook, but what is priceless is 1996 Josh’s reaction to this statement.

I also thought the authors did a good job of creating future Josh and Emma through facebook. Josh is a bit more reserved when it comes to his facebook post. He doesn’t post often but when he does it’s usually something important in his life. His wife is expecting, photos from vacations ect. And Josh in 1996 is pretty laid back and goes with the flow so the 2011 Josh is a believable future to the Josh we know in 1996. 2011 Emma on the other hand is addicted to facebook and post constantly and its borders along the lines of too much information and filled with lots of drama. She’ll post everything from what it was she had for dinner the previous night to how she is worried that her husband who hasn’t come home in 3 nights is being unfaithful to her. (Now I personally wouldn’t put stuff like this on the internet, but I’ve got a few facebook friends who post like this so it’s pretty believable.) 1996 Emma is also obsessed with facebook, and how unhappy she appears to be in her future which is why she tries to change her future.

The story itself is pretty common, when you ignore the fact that they are able to get on to Facebook 8 years before the website was even launched. Emma and Josh have been friends as long as they can remember, then Josh dose something to change all that and they hardly speak anymore. But then something (facebook) brings them slowly back together and you know how it goes. Really it’s the whole facebook concept that sells this book; I can only imagine what my 13 year old self would think of me today. I can only hope I wouldn’t disappoint her and that she wouldn’t try to change my life.

Final Thoughts and Recommendation:
This book was enjoyable, not my absolute favorite but I really liked the concept of seeing your future self via facebook before it was invented.  the story was not what I was expecting, but overall the book is a good contemporary story (with a little science fiction thrown in) . I think this book would be best enjoyed by people who are in their 20's and 30's who actually remember the 90's because there are quite a few pop culture references that might not quite hit home with a teenager.  That being said I don't think current teens will dislike the book.  In fact many of the students I work with in the Library who have read this book have enjoyed it.

My Rating:

1 comment:

  1. I agree that this book is best enjoyed by people our age. I first got AOL in 1995 and remember wish much fondness the "You've Got Mail" theme. And the dial up modem. The story was okay, but didn't stand out to me.


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