Saturday, 2 February 2013
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Authors: Jay Asher, Carolyn Mackler
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: January 5th 2012
Pages: 356 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
It's 1996 and very few high school students have ever used the internet. Facebook will not be invented until several years in the future. Emma just got a computer and an America Online CD. She and her best friend Josh power it up and log on - and discover themselves on Facebook in 2011. Everybody wonders what they'll be like fifteen years in the future. Josh and Emma are about to find out
How many years ago did I buy Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher? Probably around the same time I borrowed The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler from the school library. These two authors are brilliant at being comedic, whilst also dealing with serious issues, so when I saw a book written by the both of them? Well, I just had to have it.
The Future of Us is - shocker! - about the future. Emma and Josh are in 1996 (coincidentally the year I was born) and when Emma loads AOL onto her new computer, up pops a strange website called Facebook - and on that website, they find accounts for their 30-year-old selves. Over a week they keep going back and forth to the website, checking up on their lives, and they begin to realize that the things they do in the present start to affect what happens in the future - for example, decide you won't go to a certain university? Well, you won't meet your future husband and have those twins and the little girl, then. Some would see this as an ideal opportunity to know what to do to make things turn out alright - others walk precariously around it, worried that even one wrong footstep can send everything spiraling out of control.
I thought both of the authors did a terrific job of characterizing the two different characters. Emma was your average teenage girl, and it was intriguing to watch her change from this girl who roller-blades and plays the saxophone, to this girl who is obsessed by guys and the Internet - something that is all too common for teen girls nowadays. And I suppose Josh was quite your average teenage boy too, except I'm not exactly an expert on how they behave - hello, I have a younger brother and go to an all-girls school. If my brother has taught me anything, it is that most boys sit on their backsides and play on games consoles now - so in retrospect, Josh seemed normal. Both the characters were mostly unaffected by the wave on technology, which was an interesting contrast to how things are now.
Usually when reading collaborated books, the authors have very definite and obvious styles of writing - you can tell which author is which, and who wrote in what character. Strangely, I didn't get this from The Future of Us, which is neither a good or a bad thing, I just found it curious. The authors really did manage to make the story flow as smoothly as possible, and as usual I'm impressed by how the authors managed to keep the background characters the same throughout - especially the best friends Kellan and Tyson, who appeared in chapters both written by Asher and Mackler. There was no difference in their behavior, which enhanced how believable the story was.
I also thought it was very well-written. It took me, what, two days to finish? And that's in between attempting to socialize and school. It had a steady pace, and was easy to slip into no matter whose paragraph it was. I also found that after I'd finished reading it, I just sat back and thought about how my life is right now, and how I want it to be in fifteen years time - and honestly, it did give me a bit of a kick up the ass! I think that if a book makes you look back over your life and makes you realize that some things have got to change now, then it is definitely worth a read! Any book that can reach out and impact the way you see things for the better is worth reading, in my eyes.
Overall, although I did enjoy this story and can't stop giving it praise, there is just something stopping me from giving it a five-star rating - though I have no clue what that something is! It didn't have the wow-factor, per say? But then again, I'm not an overly major fan of contemporary fiction that doesn't deal with deeper issues, like depression and mental health, or suicide, or weight, so I guess the rating isn't surprising. Despite all that, I really did enjoy this story - I now have little nostalgic pangs for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air! I'd recommend this to anyone who loves Asher and Mackler's work, as well as anyone who is interesting in time travel.