The Future of Us, by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (2011)

Genre: Science fiction
Interest level: 12-18
The Future of UsThe premise of this young adult novel is terrific: In the mid-1990s, two teens discover their facebook pages 15 years in the future. The Internet is so new they use a dial-up modem that ties up the phone line, and it takes 90 minutes for the CD-ROM to initially load. Emma uses a Discman when jogging and ties up her hair with a scrunchie; there’s a tape player in her car; teens carry pagers instead of cellphones and need quarters for the payphone. I was tripping over the 90s references. Boy, I really wanted to like this book. The authors have each written well-reviewed novels (Thirteen Reasons Why and The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things, respectively), and a collaboration combined with a terrific premise seemed a sure thing. Well, they fall short on the delivery. All the characters really like Emma, and I can’t see why. She is self-centred and hypocritical, picking up boyfriends based solely on good looks and discarding them for not caring enough about her. Oblivious to her own shallowness, she leaps on Josh for daydreaming about dating the senior he’s apparently going to marry, according to facebook, and keeps callously ditching future husbands she doesn’t like by making minor changes in her present. (Really? Spilling water today jeopardizes my future? I should be more careful.) I still think the plot has great potential, and enjoyed a lot of the book. I particularly liked their puzzlement over facebook posts: “Why would anyone say this stuff about themselves on the Internet? It’s crazy!” But with too many 90s references, an annoying heroine, and silly plot devices, what could have been a great story falls disappointingly short in these authors’ hands.
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