Book Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Caolyn Mackler
Teens today won’t remember a time without Facebook, but it did exist (really!). What would happen if the year was 1996 and you got your first computer and logged on only to find yourself reading status updates in the future? That is the premise of Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler’s The Future of Us.
The year is 1996. Facebook has not yet been created. Josh and Emma are neighbors and best friends; well, they were until Josh got his signals crossed and made a move on Emma and now everything is just awkward. When Josh lends Emma an AOL cd for her brand spanking new computer, neither one of them is prepared for what is about to happen.
The first time Emma logs on to the computer there it is: Facebook. Except Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. Here Emma can see her status updates some 15 years into the future. She sees that she is married, but not happily. But if she changes one aspect of her future, doesn’t she change every aspect of it – and of those around her? Why yes, that does seem to be how messing with the future works. We’ve all heard of the butterfly effect. So as Emma and Josh obsessively try to fix their future, their here and now begins to spiral out of control.
This was a great concept for a book. You know that every single person would be doing exactly what Josh and Emma do, run home to refresh their status update to see how every little event changes their futures. As the story spirals and the tension builds you, as a reader, want them to rush home and hit refresh. Their anticipation is palpable. Like I said, this is an interesting concept: fortune teller via Facebook.
Then the experiment begins, can they purposely do things to try and mold their future? What about their friends’ futures? And yet, what if knowing the future can somehow affect their present? Would it change the decisions they are making today, like who they are dating and where they decide to go to college? Knowing the future is tricky business.
Josh and Emma are well developed characters that you care about, for the most part. At times Emma becomes quite unlikable in her obsessive ways, but it rings true to the character. In addition to Emma and Josh, the cast of characters is rounded out by the other part of their best friend foursome Kellan and Tyson. Again, these are fully developed characters and a good representation of high school friendship with all the messy complications that come with it.
There are some fun exercises you can do with your teens with this concept, including having them create their own personal status updates of their futures. 3 out of 5 stars. Teens will be looking to read it so you will want to buy it.
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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