The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Published: 21 November 2011 by Razorbill
Pages: 356 (hardcover)
Genre/s: Young Adult, Contemporary/Fantasy
Source: Own library
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.
In 1996 I was 14 years old. I remember what life was like before the Internet, I remember 'getting' Internet when I was 16 and I remember what a dial-up Internet connection sounded like. So I was incredibly excited to read The Future of Us - pop-culture references from the 1990s are my favourite.
The problem is, there actually weren't that many pop-culture references in The Future of Us. What there was in The Future of Us were two characters that I didn't particularly like, nor find very realistic. If I like the characters, I can overlook a lot of other faults, but it just wasn't happening for me. Josh wasn't particularly interesting and Emma pretty much spent the whole book complaining about her future husband/boyfriend and trying to change who she ended up marrying without even knowing more than what a few status updates hinted at.
The second thing that really irked me was their complete lack of interest in the futures of other people in their lives. Now, if I had discovered a Facebook page of my 30 year old self, I would have searched the shit out of it, trying to find out how the lives of my family and friends and those horrible bitchy girls at school turned out. I would have searched for pages of my favourite movie stars and singers to find out future gossip, looked through peoples photos and walls. After all, when I first had Internet access at home (and OK even now!), I was completely addicted.
At one point, Emma does make a list of all the people she wants to look up on Facebook, but Josh talks her out of it. And that didn't make a lot of sense to me either - on one hand they are immaturely self-absorbed, and on the other hand are mature enough to think that it might not be a good idea to look up other people. The whole thing just didn't sit right with me - it was all a big contradiction.
Thirdly, there are unresolved plot lines and it's not just small stuff - it's big stuff that they found out about the two people they searched for other than themselves and there's no resolution, despite the fact that they were actually life-changing events.
The Future of Us had so much potential that I just didn't feel was realised - a few more pop culture references, more realistic behaviour, less obsession from Emma about boyfriends and husbands and tying up those plot lines would have made this a much more enjoyable read for me.