Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Future of Us - Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

I was incredibly dubious about this book to start off with. It had the ingridents of what could be a book I would enjoy. YA? Tick. Contempory? Tick. Set in 1996? Sounds good, tick. Possible romance on the cards from the sound of the blurb? Tick.
So why was I dubious? Well, because one of the co-writers was Jay Asher. And I was so disappointed by Thirteen Reasons Why, his previous book. I mean, it wasn't totally awful but I just finished the book feeling 'meh' to a book with such a powerful storyline. I just did not like the book.

So after seeing this book being reviewed on the blogosphere with mixed reactions and glancing at a few covers in the bookshop that I work in, I was starting to get intrigued by this book despite the author. A couple of weeks ago, I saw this in the library and after finally picking up the book, reading the blurb and a couple of pages, I decided to give it ago because this was the type of book I absolutely love. I just hoped it met my expectations.

Synopsis: The year is 1996, the internet is only a year old and less than half of all high school students in America have actually used it. Only some even own a computer.
Josh and Emma have been neighbours and best friends for years. It was only until the previous November that everything changed which has made it awkward to be around each other - especially as they share friends. When Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail, Josh gives it to Emma to install on her new computer. However, when they log on, they discover Emma's profile on Facebook. Facebook will not be invented for another 8 years.
The year is 2011 and practically all teenagers have a computer and use the internet daily.
As Josh and Emma start to look at their profiles from 15 years time, they find their futures out - both good and bad.

Review: So I started this book with quite high expectations, despite not being a fan of Jay Asher's last book.The idea seemed really interesting - finding out your destinies in 15 years time? I know we all wonder what life will be like in that time period. So this book needed to deliver to get a big five-star from me.

And it did. Sort of.
This book was not absolutely terrible like a lot of reviews I have read make out. I can see why some would see it as average. But personally? I didn't think it was that bad really. MUCH better than the boring narrative I found in Thirteen Reasons Why, anyway.
The chapters are relatively short so I found I read this book pretty quickly without getting bored at all like I sometimes do when I read in one session for a long time.

I am a 90's kid, I was born in 1995, a year before the book is set. I would be 18 months when Emma and Josh are the same age of me now, it makes it much more interesting to compare my adolescence to their own. Mine is full of exams, coursework and social networking while their's seems to be of sport, parties and spending time at home, while preparing for their 'finals'.
In this sense, this is what really drew me in to compare the lives of the two decades of teenagers and see how different or similar they are now. And in some ways, this happened.
The aspect that MAKES this book is the technology references that are subtly added for those nostalgic few  who remember these devices. Seeing the total lack of knowledge of these devices was hilarious at times. Some of my favourite examples was Josh proclaiming 'What's a blog?' after seeing a status where his future self had referred to posting photos on his blog - this equalled a small ironic chuckle, as a few years ago, I too would have been clueless of what a blog is.
There are then more ethnic and serious issues shown to display HOW MUCH the world has changed really in ten years EG: 'We just learned in Sociology that they don't allow same-sex marriages anywhere in the world' - okay, so this is still true in some places but still.
It is what makes this book and for those that remember the 90's or early 2000's - this book totally takes you down memory lane.

A lot of people criticise the characters, especially Emma for being annoying. And to some extent, I can see this. She is quite whiny, becomes obsessed with Facebook and her future - but this is the whole point. She becomes obsessed like teenagers these days are. A lot of my friends have had to either change their password or deactivate their account on Facebook just to get some revision done. It's awful really.
This book makes you think about that and more. Why don't we go back to a time where computers were rare and the Internet was like travelling commercially to the Moon? Why do I go on Facebook so much - a site I detest and find absolutely ridiculous? In this face, it's interesting and like I said, makes you think a lot about your own usage of the internet, but Facebook especially.

This book really engages you and with the short chapters, this became shortly a quick read, even with college. You are drawn into the story and wonder what will happen. The things that happen in the book may seem quite absurd or silly but like the Facebook issue, it makes you think about how you can impact your future. If I didn't write on the blog anymore, would that impact on my future work career or getting into university? Would the blog help more with that? It's so weird to think about these things.

The book is not perfect, by any means. Jay Asher's writing here appealed to me more than in Thirteen Reasons Why but there was still something missing unlike the other amazing books I have read.
The thing that caught me in this book from beginning to end was how it made you think and after reading it, I do think of it ever so often when I visit Facebook.
I would recommend this to anyone that remembers the 90's fondly for a bit of nostalgia, a little bit like watching the pop culture references in Clueless, I think. This book was pretty good and I really enjoyed reading it. I know I definitely don't want to find out my future.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website: Carolyn Mackler  |  Jay Asher
Pages: 356
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Challenges: Historical Fiction


Review of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

THIRTEEN REASONS WHY and THE FUTURE OF US are also being made into movies by Universal and Warner Brothers with Selena Gomez starring in Thirteen Reasons Why - click here for the details

3 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this book although not as much as you. I thought it was average. I am 2 years younger than these characters, so I completely related to their world. It was interesting to read a review from someone who wasn't a teen in the 90s. I mostly loved it for the nostalgia.

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    1. I think the nostalgia of the book is what draws people the most. A little why I love Clueless because of all the pop culture references I recognise from being a child.

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  2. I love this book. And easy read and kept my interest throughout. Jay Asher is becoming a favorite of mine.
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