The Future of Us review

I actually read this one a while back, but as it’s a perfect summer beachside read I’m posting the review now…

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Published January 2012 by Simon & Schuster Children’s books (UK)

 

 Book jacket blurb:

It’s 1996 and very few high school students have ever used the internet. Facebook will not be invented until several years in the future. Emma just got a computer and an America Online CD. She and her best friend Josh power it up and log on – and discover themselves on Facebook in 2011. Everybody wonders what they’ll be like fifteen years in the future. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

The review:

Did you ever do that thing where you take your name and the name of a boy/girl you fancy, cross off the letters you have in common and tally down to calculate the percentage chance of it working out between you? (Oh come on, surely it wasn’t just me and my friends?!) Well anyway, imagine that instead you could bypass all uncertainty, log on to your future self’s Facebook account and find out for sure who you would end up with? Better still, with the information that you discovered, what if you could begin to manipulate current events to shape that future? That, in a nutshell, is the premise of The Future of Us.

But there is so much more to it than that. Written in a light, easy style and riddled with culture references, Asher and Mackler’s time-travel adventure with a twist sweeps you off your Nike Air Max and plants you firmly back in the mid 1990s, in an almost innocent time before mobile phones and iPods, when kids listened to Dave Matthews bootlegs on cassette and called each other from their landlines (No! How did they ever cope?!). Reading this book made me want to root out Dookie and Jagged Little Pill and relive the ‘good ole’ days’, as future Emma refers to her high-school days in the book.

There’s also something quite nostalgic in reading about a time before Facebook. Emma and Josh’s struggles to grasp what ‘status updates’ and ‘walls’ are all about might be laughable to us Facebook-veterans, but it does make you think about how well ingrained the social network has become in our lives. It also made me just a tiny bit thankful that Facebook wasn’t around when I was a teen – there are certain greasy-haired, brace-encrusted photos of myself I would definitely not want to have been tagged in!!

You could argue that the time travel aspect of the story isn’t fully explained and explored – Emma discovers Facebook on her computer and doesn’t really question how it could have got there. But then again, I think I would have been bored by a lengthy explanation of the quantum physics of time travel. Don’t get me wrong, those things have their place, but I don’t think that’s what this book sets out to do – it simply gives the reader a ‘what if?’ scenario and the real fun is in figuring out what you would do if you could see into the future, and whether you would even want to anyway.

At its heart, though, it’s a story about friendship and how it can be tested by the changing tides of our high-school years – Josh and Emma’s friendship was definitely what kept me turning the pages to the end, and the dual narration, switching between Emma’s and Josh’s voice, complemented this perfectly and kept the pace up.

The book also has a really strong message about living in the now and appreciating what you’ve got – I won’t give the ending away, but that message in itself is enough to make this book the perfect, light-hearted read to enjoy one day on the beach.

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1 Comment

  1. Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books I Read In 2012 « library4delinquents

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