July 4, 2014

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

“I don't know exactly what it is, but it looks like interconnected websites where people show their photos and write about everything going on in their lives, like whether they found a parking spot or what they ate for breakfast."

"But why?" Josh asks.”

-from The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

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The Future of Us is a compelling story by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler in which two teens from the 1990s obtain access to Facebook. When high school sophomore, Josh, gives his friend Emma an America Online CD for her new computer, they just think it's great that they can use her phone line to get onto the internet. But what is this web page called Facebook? And why is there a girl 15 years in the future named Emma who looks like an older version of Emma? When given the opportunity to peek into their futures through a series of status updates and photos, Josh and Emma begin to change the way they see themselves and the actions they take to ensure their futures.

The idea for this novel is absolutely wonderful. The execution... not so much. While I did enjoy listening to the audio book of The Future of Us, the general arc of the story fell flat before I reached the halfway point. The book essentially goes through a cycle where Emma does not like her future based on one vague status update, so she goes to great lengths to make a change that will affect her future outcome. At first it was interesting to see the butterfly effect, but she goes through this cycle so many times that I really didn't care for her and how superficial she was by the end of the book.

Josh, on the other hand, is a much more stable character. Granted, he likes the future he sees and doesn't want to do anything to change it. The way he explores and navigates his life knowing the outcome is more interesting than the way Emma tries to constantly change hers. Unfortunately despite both their efforts, I don't think either of them ever realize that Facebook is just a highlights reel of life and not necessarily the real thing. Sure, they would be able to see if they are married and if they have children, but I wish the authors would have taken better care to reinforce the negative ramifications of Facebook throughout any era.

The Story of Us is definitely entertaining, but I think the premise could have been so much more. At the very least, I wish there would have been more '90s references. It could have been a lot more fun in a lot of different ways, but it was just underwhelming to me. Maybe the aimlessness of the story is due to the fact that this book was co-authored, but either way I didn't love it or hate it.

Bottom Line: An exciting premise with an underwhelming execution. Not the worst book, but nothing as life-altering as it sounds. Meh. 3/5 Stars.

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