Sunday, January 5, 2014

review - The Future of Us


Title by Author: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Series (if applicable): none
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date:  November 2011
Page Count:  356 pages
Source: library
Blurb: 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.

My Interest in this book is: I saw good reviews for this, and stumbled upon it in the library, so thought I would give it a try! Also, it is for the 2014 Reading Outside the Box challenge - "I Just Love a Good Duet" category.

My Review:
Have you ever finished a book quickly because you want to see how it ends (or if it ends the way you think it might), but are saddened that you rushed it, and now you can’t stop thinking about it?  That’s how I felt when I finished The Future of Us.

On the surface, it seems like a light story about a guy and a girl, who are neighbors and have been friends forever, except for the past six months when one of them wanted to take the friendship up a notch.  Then, Emma gets a computer from her dad, which she sees as a “trying to buy my love” kind of thing, since he is married to someone else and they recently had a baby.  Josh’s mom encourages him to go next door to Emma’s house with an AOL cd that they received in the mail, because they don’t have a computer.  The  year, by the way, is 1996.  After Emma creates her AOL account, she sees a Favorites button and clicks on it, to find something called Facebook, which wouldn’t be started until 2004.  Emma signs in to Facebook, and is stunned to find her name and picture of what she might look like in the future.  It turns out that the account is hers from 15 years in the future.

Emma is a bit freaked out and not sure what to make of it, so she has Josh come back over to check it out.  Josh is sure that it is someone playing a game on them.  A few things happen and they both realize that it isn’t some prank that the computer geeks at school are playing on them.

Emma becomes addicted to looking at what her future self is doing, and when she discovers what she does that day affects her future in 15 years, she starts to experiment a little bit.  When she sees that she is unhappy in her marriage, she decides to break it off before it even has a chance to start.  Josh, however, is happy with how his future life turns out.  What skater boy wouldn’t be psyched to be married to the hottest senior girl, living it large in a fantastic house in the best part of town?  Josh gets upset with Emma, though, when she does things to change her future, because it also affects his.

During the week that this story is set, you see the relationship between Emma and Josh, and the relationships that both Emma and Josh have with others.  Emma dumps one boyfriend and gets another, while Josh gets the courage up to date his future wife.  Along the way, though, these two friends wonder what is happening between them.

What I really liked about the book is the commentary on how we share so many banal things on Facebook (in general), and how one thing can be taken completely out of context.  It also focuses on how knowledge of the future can affect you.  I love the possibility of different outcomes to our future that stem from simple actions (like pouring dirty water on a new carpet).  This story also deals with how obsessing on the future can obscure your present life.  There are so many other aspects of this story that you can sit and ruminate on, and I love this story for that simple fact.

Yes, it is a quick read and seems fairly simple on the surface.  But there are a few lines in the book that really get you thinking.  The characters are well-drawn and you get a sense that each person is different.  Emma is uncertain of many things in her life, but her future Facebook self really gets her to think about her present life.  Josh wonders if his perfect life in the future is really perfect for him.

There were a few things that were left hanging out there and not resolved, but I did enjoy the story regardless.  If you are looking for a book that will grab you when you least expect it, and makes you think about your own life just a little, then look no further!  It’s sweet, quick and thoughtful!

Favorite Quotes:

“When the right moment appears, the key is not to let it pass.”  That’s always been my problem. I let moments pass, and then I kick myself endlessly. - Josh

This future stuff is dangerous. We can’t tinker with things, plucking out details we don’t like. - Josh

He knows the real me, and he likes me for who I am. – Emma

When I finished this book, I felt: Very glad that I checked it out! Can’t stop thinking about it!
Rating: 5 Stars
Other books to read by this author or theme: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares  I don’t know, but am going to look into both of these authors now.
Tag: YA, romance, high school, futuristic (in a sense), thoughtful
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