Book Review: The Future of Us – Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

Title: The Future of Us
Author: Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
ISBN: 9781595144911
Pages: 356
Release Date: November 21, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: Teen/YA
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

The year is 1996 and the internet is just starting to become popular.  For teens Emma and Josh, they instant message with friends and set up email accounts using AOL’s free trial.  But when Emma stumbles upon an unfamiliar site, blue and white with the word Facebook in the corner, she’s baffled.  She’s even more confused when she sees herself, fifteen years from now and miserable.  Emma vows that she will not let herself become that sad woman and tries to change her future, heedless of what else she might be creating or destroying.

Review:

Though The Future of Us is a YA novel, aimed at teens, in some ways I feel that’s not its actual audience.  Instead, I think that my generation is the target audience for the book – those of us who were teenagers in the mid-nineties, who remember the free AOL CD’s, spend hours on AOL Instant Messaging, and lived for the “You’ve Got Mail!” chime when we logged into the program.  While teens now probably can’t fathom living without always-on internet and Facebook, I can very much imagine how I’d feel as a teen, logging into AOL and seeing my current Facebook profile.

While I think I’d be very pleased with what I found, Emma is not.  It’s not that she’s not popular or she’s picked on in school, quite the opposite, in fact.  But she hasn’t found real satisfaction in her life.  She doesn’t really like the guys she dates and she reassures herself by thinking that her post-high school life will be fulfilling and happy.  When she discovers her future self on Facebook and finds that all is not well, she’s understandably shattered.  She decides to change her future and does so in very clever ways.

It’s amazing how much The Future of Us feels like the ‘90s.  From the pop culture references to the technology, Asher and Mackler really do an excellent job bringing that period to life.  I was constantly chuckling at the book, recognizing people I knew back in high school in the characters.  There is a bit of teen angst that I didn’t love in the book, but overall, Asher and Mackler do an excellent job probing the meaning of happiness.  What does it mean to be happy, and what are the consequences of each small action we take, or those we choose not to?  I loved this discussion, as well as the thoughts it provoked as I was reading.

Overall, The Future of Us is a fun, enjoyable read that readers who remember the ‘90s fondly will love.  Though it is a YA book with teenage characters, I’m not sure how much today’s teens will get out of it, as they may become bored with the constant references to pop culture they don’t understand.  Emma and Josh are solid characters, though not without their overly fair share of angst; I enjoyed this trip down memory lane and appreciate that the authors took so much care in bringing my teenage years to life in this book.

Other books by Jay Asher:

Thirteen Reasons Why

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Comments

  1. I’m way past the target audience, but I have a feeling I’d enjoy this book too.

  2. I’m way past the target audience, but I have a feeling I’d enjoy this book too.

  3. I loved this book for the same reasons. And it was just a fun story. 🙂

  4. I loved this book for the same reasons. And it was just a fun story. 🙂

  5. Definitely agree that the book seemed to have a better audience with people in our age range — those who came of age in the ’90s! Remembering those AOL CDs and the incessant dial-up sound while waiting to log on is hilarious. I was thinking about the movie “You’ve Got Mail” the other day, and how it already seems so incredibly dated… technology moves so quick. (But I love that film, anyway!)

  6. Definitely agree that the book seemed to have a better audience with people in our age range — those who came of age in the ’90s! Remembering those AOL CDs and the incessant dial-up sound while waiting to log on is hilarious. I was thinking about the movie “You’ve Got Mail” the other day, and how it already seems so incredibly dated… technology moves so quick. (But I love that film, anyway!)

  7. I think I would relate to this as well, and have this book waiting for me. I don’t think my kids would really get it, because life online has changed so much in the past 10 years, but I am sure this would be one that I loved. It’s a really clever idea for a book. Loved this review.

  8. I think I would relate to this as well, and have this book waiting for me. I don’t think my kids would really get it, because life online has changed so much in the past 10 years, but I am sure this would be one that I loved. It’s a really clever idea for a book. Loved this review.

  9. I’m 17 years old and I tried reading this book yesterday. I was born in 1995 but I to remember not having internet when I was a child so I do think that I can relate to this book (computers were huge and it was annoying when trying to call a friend but you couldn’t because they were online). Anyways, I really didn’t like this book it bored me so after reading for a while I went ahead and skipped a few chapters so I could see if it got any better. It did get better but I was upset because it seems like all the books I’ve been reading aren’t very good until the end. It’s like the climax, falling action, and resolution all happen within the last few chapters of the book. I’ll just say one thing, I predicted the ending from the first chapter and I’m happy I skipped so many chapters.

  10. I’m 17 years old and I tried reading this book yesterday. I was born in 1995 but I to remember not having internet when I was a child so I do think that I can relate to this book (computers were huge and it was annoying when trying to call a friend but you couldn’t because they were online). Anyways, I really didn’t like this book it bored me so after reading for a while I went ahead and skipped a few chapters so I could see if it got any better. It did get better but I was upset because it seems like all the books I’ve been reading aren’t very good until the end. It’s like the climax, falling action, and resolution all happen within the last few chapters of the book. I’ll just say one thing, I predicted the ending from the first chapter and I’m happy I skipped so many chapters.

  11. I am in the target group for this book. A lot of the references in like music I miss parts of but parts like computers and beepers I totally got. I’m 18 but probably any younger kids wouldn’t get the references I don’t think. Even though I know I am missing aspects of it was fun to read because I remember when I was younger while reading it.

  12. I am in the target group for this book. A lot of the references in like music I miss parts of but parts like computers and beepers I totally got. I’m 18 but probably any younger kids wouldn’t get the references I don’t think. Even though I know I am missing aspects of it was fun to read because I remember when I was younger while reading it. The end is really predictable though.

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