Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: The Future of Us

Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
It's 1996 and Emma's friend Josh has just given her an AOL CD-ROM to go with the computer her dad bought her. When she creates an email address, she accidentally stumbles fifteen years into the future -- onto her future self's Facebook page. Once they get past thinking the page is an elaborate practical joke, Emma and Josh realize that they can see their futures -- and what they see isn't what they're expecting. As Emma tries to change the future and Josh tries to hang on to it, each of them must take a step towards what they want now.

I'm just old enough to be totally spazzing out about a book set in the 90s. All the references! The sly future in-jokes! I'm old enough to remember 1996, in a very child-like way (because, um, I was SIX) but honestly I don't think the time period is going to throw off a lot of teen readers the way you might expect. Even if someone doesn't remember the particular reference or year, they'll easily find their footing amidst all the music references and VHS-talk. This book has a cool mix of being slightly old-school and offering up Back-to-the-Future-style shenanigans; this is where it's true appeal lies. The premise is pure AWESOME.

Beyond the premise, I didn't always love the two main characters, Emma and Josh. Emma, who goes a bit crazy with trying to change her future, is a bit prickly. She seems to know exactly who she doesn't want to be, but has no idea who she does want to be and there were many points in the book where I just got irritated with her as I felt like she kept missing the point. She could be a little dense. Josh, on the other hand, is the ultimate Nice Guy. He's got a crush on Emma (or did, at least) and finds it easy to go along with what she and her other friends suggest without making many decisions for himself. If the book had been reliant on the characters alone, it would have been an okay-but-bland read. Luckily, this wasn't the case. Some readers might not love that the future world Emma and Josh discover can be changed by the decisions they make in 1996, but I thought this was a great part of the book and brought into play some incredibly interesting themes having to do with happiness, personal responsibility, and the ripples that seemingly small changes can create in the future. Though I sometimes felt like Emma went too far in her small-changes-big-ripples idea, I liked that this part of time-bending-warping stuff (whatever you call it) was brought up.

There are quite a few subplots in this book - most of which would be spoilers to talk about - and I did find myself wishing the book had dealt with them better in the end. While some were things that really didn't need to be resolved, the ending seemed to come too suddenly and there were loose ends that I wish had been tied up a bit neater.

But The Future of Us isn't about it's subplots, or it's ending, or even Emma and Josh, really. It's about seeing your future and figuring out what to do if you don't like it - or if you do - and it's about remembering the now even as you're focused on what comes next. This is a quick, immensely fun read, and though it feels lighthearted, it will leave you thinking.

The Future of Us comes out Nov. 21st.


  1. Was it different enough from Gimme A Call?

  2. Jackie
    I actually haven't read Gimme A Call, so I can't say. They sound fairly similar though.

  3. It's been about 2 years since I've read it and I still think about TRW. And since reading Tangled, I've been wanting to read another book by Carolyn Mackler as well. So when I found out these two authors collaborated on a novel, I was itching with anticipation to get my hands on it.