The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Guest review by Jenny Thomas, VVHS teacher and soon-to-be teacher librarian!
It’s 1996; and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet. Emma, a 16-year-old junior, receives her first computer–a gift from her father who has moved away with his new wife and baby. Emma’s neighbor and former best-friend Josh, brings over a CD-ROM with 100 free hours to AOL. Yes, using the Internet used to tie-up your phone line (almost no one had a cell phone), and it was limited!
The authors do a fantastic job of transporting their readers into 1996–a time in which your computer ran CD-ROMs (not apps), Friends was the hottest show on TV (but you couldn’t DVR it), and you listened to CDs on your Discman (no iPods). Facebook wouldn’t be created for another eight years. . . so how did it end up on Emma’s computer? Through an inexplicable link to 2011, Josh and Emma are able to see their lives on Facebook–15 years into the future. It’s amusing to watch them figure out Facebook (“Why would anyone say this stuff about themselves on the Internet? It’s crazy!”); they read wall posts, see who they are friends with, view their spouses, kids, and jobs, etc. Josh and Emma come to realize that their lives will take unexpected (and some unwelcome) twists and turns. When Emma starts changing the present in an attempt to improve her Facebook future, it changes the future of others, too.
Authors Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler switch off writing chapters from the perspectives of Josh and Emma, respectively. Reading The Future of Us was nostalgic for me, as I was 16 in 1996 and vividly remember the world as the authors describe it–much different from our world in 2012. The Future of Us is light, funny, entertaining, and relatable. I can definitely see this book being made into a movie (the movie rights have already been sold).
Professional reviews of this book have ranged from mixed to positive, which I agree with. While I don’t think the book lived up to its brilliant plot description, I definitely enjoyed reading about our world viewed from the perspective of high school students in the past. We all want to know how our own story turns out, but Emma and Josh’s story reminds us that any of the thousands of small decisions that we make every day could change our future.
Ms. Waddle’s note: I know how much we all loved Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, so I have a ‘save the date’ for you. Jay Asher will be at the Ontario City Library, Ovitt Branch (downtown on C and Lemon Streets) as one of the guest authors for the Teen Book Fest on Saturday, May 5–along with four other great YA authors. More info will follow, but put it on your calendar now! Check out The Future of Us now, and you’ll be able to ask Asher question about both books.