Friday, 13 January 2012

Book Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler.


Product details:
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books.
Paperback, 356 pages.
Release date: January 5th 2012.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Ages: 12+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

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.


A fun slice of nostalgia, The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler takes its readers on a journey back in time, to the days when teenage angst was soundtracked by Alanis Morissette, when Seinfeld was a show never to be missed, when cell phones were still a luxury item, and when no one had ever heard of Facebook.  It’s time to go back to the nineties…

It’s 1996, and the internet is still in its infancy, but for teenagers Emma and Josh, the future has arrived, courtesy of an AOL CD-ROM which, after it takes a couple hours to load, shows Emma her Facebook page…Fifteen years in the future. Emma and Josh are intrigued, and confused. How did this happen? What does it mean? Whatever happened to Pluto?  And why are people talking about what they had for dinner in their ‘status updates’? Who cares about this stuff?

Believe me, Josh, I ask myself the same question every day!

I remember these days so well. I’ll never forget the pain of dial up, living in a one phone line house and having to restrict my internet use to a half hour every day. I had flashbacks to those times every time Emma’s mom interrupted her browsing time because she needed to use the landline. It wasn’t so long ago, but look at how times have changed. Could you live without your cell phone, or your Google, or you Facebook? I could live without Facebook quite comfortably, but I’d miss Twitter. This book makes you think about how reliant we are on technology these days, and how it all happened oh so quickly. Most of all though, The Future of Us is just pure fun.  What I would have given as a teen to see myself fifteen years in the future. Emma, in particular, made me laugh with her actions, even though I didn’t take to her character. She’s self-absorbed, shallow and selfish, which makes her, if not likeable, then at least entertaining. With the help of the ‘refresh’ button Emma and Josh quickly discover that their present day actions can change the lives of their future selves.  But while Josh doesn’t want to go messing around with his destiny, if Emma sees something she dislikes in her future, she will do whatever it takes to change it. So from future husbands, to jobs, to children, to favourite meals, nothing is safe when Emma’s around!

There was so much I could relate to in this book. I loved its concept and all the nostalgic touches that are incorporated in the story. But I wanted to know more.  I bemoaned the fact that the authors never explored how or why this happened to Emma and Josh. It’s obviously not the story the authors wanted to tell, but it’s the story I wanted to hear. I also wondered how younger teens who don’t remember this time at all would relate to the book.  Would the whole concept of a life without cell phones and a speedy internet connection be totally alien or uninteresting to them?  The Future of Us will find an audience in older readers of YA for sure, but thankfully there’s plenty for a younger teenage audience to enjoy too.  A story of friendship, romance and finding out what’s really important in life, The Future of Us is a heart warming coming of age story.

17 comments :

  1. Aw, this one sounds like fun! The concept is really cool. Thanks for the review, Leanna.

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  2. I'll never forget the pains of dial up either or that annoying noise that came up with it! I like your point in your review, where would we be without technology these days? Media has pretty much consumed us now and it would be interesting to see how the book did that! I was sort of ambivalent towards this book but now I want to read it!

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  3. I remember those days of dial up...took ages to get to any web page and the noise was horrible to listen to! I thnk I would enjoy this - but as you point up I'm off the right age to have been a teenager in the 90s and still reading YA now. :)

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  4. I'm reading this now and it's like set exactly the same time I first used the internet! I have been wondering though if it makes that much sense to teens now. I think this is definitely the type of book you have to just enjoy and not look too deeply at too.

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  5. Dang this makes me feel old..as I graduated high school in 92 and college in 96.

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  6. I just read the first 30 pages of this and I loved it. But I do wonder if people who weren't teens in the 90s will really get it.

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  7. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I loved taking this trip down memory lane and thinking about all my memories from the 90s. This book is a lot of fun and it made me think too. Great review, Leanna!

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  8. This was cool wasn'T it? Very nostalgic while reading it too. Awesome review!

    Giselle
    Xpresso Reads

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  9. This one sounds so fun! I remember dial-up too - the torture! I didn't really use the internet as much back then though :P. I'm not sure how much I'd take to Emma, but I think I'd really enjoy thus one! Great review, thanks :).

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  10. I have this one on my list. It sounds fun and interesting. I would love to read a book taking place in the 90s about the world we live in now. I imagine fb would seem crazy! I can't wait to read this one. Great review!

    ~Jess
    http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com/

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  11. I've read this one too and I totally agree with your thoughts. I loved the concept! Great review as always :)

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  12. Can't wait to read this one, so getting it on payday! awesome view!!

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  13. I love the 90s, mostly for nostalgic reasons. I want to read this book purely because I want to talk a walk down memory lane. But the rest of the boo? Eeeh, I'm not sure I'm all that interested in the actual plot. I, too, wonder how a book like this would be received by younger readers. The different experiences of those who lived pre-internet and post-internet really is like living in a totally different worlds :P

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    Replies
    1. I love the 90's for those very same reasons! :) I'd love to hear what younger readers think of this one too!

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  14. I absolutely loved the premise for this book, but not the execution. Sad to say, I didn't ever end up caring enough about Josh and Emma in the present to worry about their futures. Shame, because I really wanted to like this book.


    Smiles!
    Lori

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  15. This one sounds like so much fun, I think I'll really enjoy it :)

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