by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
It's JAY ASHER. I was soo excited to hear he had a new book coming out! :)
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.
My Expectations: I read reviews for this book… and as I was reading them, I was scratching my head thinking “how could you not love this? It’s JAY ASHER and it sounds amazing and and and…” but after reading it for myself (you should all read this book for yourselves, btdubs, don’t just listen to me) I get it.
Delivery: It was good. It was round and solid and good. But not great. I was underwhelmed
Put-down-ability: 3/10, read it in 2 sittings
There’s some great stuff regarding The Future of Us, so let’s start first with the rather fascinating premise. I’ll admit, when I first heard of it, I was kind of skeptical… but then when I thought about it, I was completely won over and convinced it will be amazing. And it kind of was (kind of…). I loved the idea of 90’s kids* logging on to AOL** and discovering facebook. Because on one hand, I thought this was also an insight to the slight ridiculousness that follows Facebook and Emma and Josh point out things like that (the “why would I ever bother updating such a mundane status”) but it also offers the wealth of opportunities a glance into your future profile might be, and this essence was captured very well.
A big factor I thought would be hit and miss was the way Facebook was presented (things like wall posts, profile descriptions, etc) but this was handled very well. It was realistic (for a time like the present, which makes me question the timelessness of the book***) and was a great set-up for the story. I really thought seeing how small decisions could alter the future was interesting and thought-provoking in general, and may have sent me into a semi-neurotic mode considering every little action I do…
The main characters, Josh and Emma, never stood out to me, which was a huge reason I wasn’t completely won over by the book. Granted, this book takes place over the course of a week, which for me, made it less believable when I thought ‘big picture’ as opposed to ‘life changing week’. Josh and Emma’s interactions never had time to fester (as I usually find with most arguments), there was a lot of fight-and-make-up within 24 hours****, and it happened a bit too often for my liking. Another thing is that I just never cared about them. I found them pretty realistic and well rounded, but there just wasn’t something about them that made me sympathize or really actually like them, pulling my attention away from being completely immersed.
I did find their individual storylines were much more interesting, because I could more easily put myself in the character's shoes and see scenes and nervous thoughts, etc, playing out. The secondary characters didn’t do much for me either, they felt so… stock. It makes me genuinely sad saying this, but I just never felt any spark with them. It was like a pleasant subplot that I just brushed off whenever something else came up.
The writing style was also something I was kind of disappointed with***** because it’s been a while since reading 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, but I remember loving it. However, with The Future of Us, I found the sentence structure somewhat stilted, and it lacked flow and rhythm, and never for me, reflected a fully realized character.
Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
Recommended for: most YA readers actually, this one can have a really broad audience!
Acknowledgements: LOL! Very funny and creative, though short :) 4.5/5
7.4/10 – because the more I think about it, the more I think that it just didn’t do it for me. It was a solid read that kept me mostly engaged, it had a very cool premise but the characters never engaged me, nor did the writing. I’m slightly put-off by my own reaction, and it isn’t because of high standards. Just overall, I’m disappointed that I didn’t like it more, but I would still be in a bookstore and happily point out “hey, this book is by great authors and it’s about Facebook! You should read it!” and I’m sure some teen will pick it up and love it more than I did.
* this book was categorized as historical fiction… there is slightly too much wtf-ery attached to that sentence because I feel ridiculously old and I’m still a teenager!! I'm sorting this into 'contemporary fiction, thank you very much.
**AOL!! You’ve got mail!! Welcome! Goodbye!
***I say this because I’m thinking if someone talked about a book focused on MySpace I’d scoff and probably not read it.
*****which is, of course, a totally personal preference
Jay Asher's blog / twitter
Carolyn Mackler's tumblr / twitter / website