Title: The Future of UsAuthor: Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Publication Date: November 21st, 2011
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
The year is 1996 and Emma Nelson has just set up her first computer. After she signs up for AOL, she finds herself on a website called Facebook, which asks her for her e-mail to sign in. On the website, Emma finds herself looking at the profile of a woman named Emma Nelson Jones. She looks like an older version of Emma, but her status updates reference things Emma has never heard of. When her next-door neighbour Josh comes over to look at the website, he writes it off as a joke. Emma and Josh used to be best friends, but have drifted apart since Josh admitted that he wanted to be something more. As Emma spends more time looking at the site, she becomes more convinced that this woman is herself fifteen years in the future. And future Emma doesn’t look like a happy person. Once Emma realizes that the smallest things she does can change her future, she tries to change things so she can be happy in the future. Josh’s future, however, appears to be perfect. But is it really what he wants? As the two teens get to see small glimpses of their futures, they wonder if seeing what the future holds is really worth it.
This is a fun book if you don’t take it too seriously. The concept is creative, but initially I felt like it could be a hit or miss. Written by Jay Asher, the author of Thirteen Reasons Why and Carolyn Mackler, author of The Earth, My Butt and Other Round Things, the narration switches each chapter. The two characters have been friends for ages, but Josh’s feelings for Emma put a wedge in their friendship. Emma Nelson (isn’t that a Degrassi character?) goes from one boyfriend to another without ever getting attached. Josh is a skater who goes with the flow. Anyone who has spent at least five minutes on the Internet knows that pretty much everyone thinks the 1990’s were the greatest thing ever to happen to humanity. If you’re looking for nostalgia, then The Future of Us is for you. There are lots of references to popular culture (maybe a little too much, it felt a little forced sometimes.) This book comments on modern society and raises a lot of questions: would you change your future if you could? What do the few sentences of our status updates say about us? What would I have thought fifteen years ago if I had seen my present Facebook page? How do our simple actions today affect the future? The plot was interesting, although the writers could have worked more with the creative concept they thought of. Why were Emma and Josh able to access the Facebook of the future? Because of the absence of an answer, I’d say this book isn’t really science fiction, but no other label fit for the genre. I love a quick read that goes by fast, and The Future of Us was that. Asher and Mackler are both good writers, and their sections flowed well together. Mainly character driven, the plot focuses primarily on the relationships of the characters and how Facebook has affected them. There wasn’t a strict plot, but because of the unique premise that didn’t matter too much. The characters were a bit superficial and I couldn’t understand why they only cared about who they ended up with when they were able to look into the future. While these things might make it seem like I didn’t enjoy The Future of Us, I actually did. It was original and easy to get caught up in. While it might appeal more to fans of teen realistic fiction than fans of sci-fi, it’s definitely worth reading.
“I've always protected myself when it comes to love. And maybe that's the problem. By not letting myself get hurt now, it ripples into much bigger pain later.”