All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

The Future Of Us – Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

on May 12, 2013

Future Of UsThe Future Of Us
Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Simon & Schuster
2012 (originally 2011), 356p
Read from my TBR pile

It is 1996 and Emma’s father has shipped her a brand new computer, partially to help soothe the possible wound of a new baby sister with his new wife and the fact that he lives far away. Josh, Emma’s neighbour brings over an AOL CD that he had so that Emma can get online and start exploring this relatively new thing called the internet.

So Emma gives it a go and installs the CD. Once connected, she opens a page and finds herself confronted with something called Facebook with what is clearly a picture of herself, but 15 or 16 years into the future. At first she thinks it’s some sort of bizarre prank and so does Josh although they can’t figure out how anyone could possibly have managed to do something like this. But the Facebook page remains there everytime Emma connects and then all of a sudden, she begins to notice something.

The page changes. Emma-from-the-future can be changed – by Emma in the present. Emma’s actions on a day to day basis can have an effect on what is happening to her in the future. Not only can Emma and Josh see Emma’s destiny but they can also see Josh’s – and Josh is more than pleased by what his future looks like. He begins to berate Emma for trying to change hers, lest it change his.

Emma and Josh used to be best friends – but things have been undeniably weird for a little while now since one of them got their wires crossed. Logging on each day to check how their futures have altered has given them a chance to regain their closeness although Emma is quickly becoming obsessed with her future and how to get the perfect outcome. Perhaps she needs to let go and see what is right in front of her in the present.

I remember hearing about this book when it was first published and I knew it was something that I wanted to read. My parents got the internet in 1998 when I was in year 11, about the same age as Emma is in this book. I remember the painful dialling in every single time you wanted to do something and what it was like to get continually bumped off the internet every time someone attempted to call the house. I also had a free AOL CD or two in my past and used my free 50 hours or whatever it was that they came with. This book brought back so many memories, which was rather sweet. I have to admit that if, like Emma, I’d logged on and faced a glimpse of future-Bree, I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from taking a peek at the page. And at the page of everyone I knew. And like Emma, I might’ve attempted to change things that seemed less than ideal. It’s hard seeing yourself fifteen years into the future and knowing that you’re miserable. If you think there’s something that you can do to change that, so that you don’t marry that deadbeat, or move to that city or lose that job, it’d be mighty tempting to try and make that change happen.

So on one hand, I thought this book was rather fun. It’s a great idea, blending the not-so-distant past (that may as well be a millennium ago, technology wise) with the now. I loved that portion of it. I loved Josh’s incredulity at people making mundane status updates about what they had for dinner or “vaguebooking” about how they were feeling. He couldn’t believe that anyone would actually bother to put stuff like that out there, or that people would want to read it. And most people would’ve probably felt the same way in 1996. This book doesn’t even touch on other social media – Twitter, Instagram, etc. There are many ways now in which she can share the most intimate yet mundane details of our daily lives. And yet not that long ago, this sort of thing would’ve been almost unbelievable.

However, this book lacks something – a certain punch. Emma is okay as a character, she’s a little self-absorbed and this shows in her obsession to change her future and make her life as perfect as possible. There seemed better ways to change it than the ways in which she goes about it in the novel – every time she changes something, in the future she ends up married to someone else. There would be easier ways to avoid this than totally changing your college preferences, for example. I appreciated that she was concerned for her best friend in the future and did what she could in order to change her future, which would probably make years of her life very difficult, although perhaps rewarding in the end. Occasionally her attitude got on my nerves, particularly towards her parents but then I remembered how obnoxious I was at fifteen years old and concluded that she was probably relatively realistic!

However what I didn’t love was her friendship with Josh. Quite often I’m a huge fan of the childhood-besties-turn-more story lines in YA but this one just felt so lacklustre! There was no feeling there, no chemistry. And the fact that Josh was a year younger was a bit strange to me – Emma was 15 or 16 (perhaps 16 as she was old enough to drive) and Josh was 14 or 15. I remember boys that age and the last thing I wanted to do was date them. They just seemed so different and even though their conflict arose from one of them being interested and the other not, the way in which this changed was so abrupt and clumsy. I never got the impression of the tide turning, of feelings changing… It just felt left field and awkward and out of no where. It wasn’t something that I read and felt comfortable with, it just seemed like it was thrown in there to tie up the ending neatly but it just didn’t ring authentic for me at all, which was a shame. The rest of the book was quite interesting.


Book #120 of 2013



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