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In The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, two '90s teens get a glimpse of their future selves via time-bending access to Facebook.


BOOK REPORT for The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Cover Story: Binary Solo!
BFF Charm: Yay & Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: He Said, She Said
Bonus Factors: The '90s, AOL, Facebook
Relationship Status: That Book I Hooked Up With At My Class Reunion

Cover Story: Binary Solo!

I totally dig this cover, with its binary code showing us a picture of two blurry individuals. It's respectable and attractive.

The Deal:

What would you do if you could see your life 15 years in the future?

It's 1996, and Emma has finally gotten a computer with internet access. Her used-to-be best friend and next-door neighbor, Josh, loans her an AOL CD-ROM, which will give her a hundred free hours if she signs up for their email service. But when she loads the CD-ROM, a strange page appears: it's something called 'Facebook', and it shows someone with Emma's name posting about her marital problems and what she plans to cook for dinner.

At first Emma is convinced it's a prank, but then she asks Josh to come over to help her figure the whole page out, and they find Josh listed among her "friends." They don't know how, but they are looking at themselves in the future. And over the course of the next few days, the decisions they make in the present affects what their future selves post about. Will they change their futures, or let the future change them?

BFF Charm: Yay & Yay

I liked both Emma and Josh instantly, but it was due to their different personalities that I really enjoyed reading this story. Their personalities might have felt a little typical in terms of gender roles, (he's laid back, she's uptight) I couldn't help but like them as teens and wonder what they would be like as adults.

Where Josh is pleased with his future, and given the self-confidence to actually make it happen sooner than it perhaps should, Emma is understandably neurotic, and I couldn't help but feel for her as each decision she made seemed to have worse and worse affects on her future self. Emma, I would have devolved into a hot mess a lot sooner than you.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

I can't say too much here without spoiling things, so I'll just tell you that there's some really sweet longing and that what I hoped would happen did.

Talky Talk: He Said, She Said

The chapters alternate between Emma and Josh, written by Mackler and Asher, respectively. It's interesting to read from the perspective of two different characters who are not written by the same person. It gave each of the characters their own unique voice in an interesting way -- that I truly felt that they were BOTH the main character. And that made me root for both of them -- even when what they wanted were different things.

Either you squee'd when you read the premise, because it's about time for a '90's throwback (and seeing your future on Facebook? Brill!); or perhaps you cringed inwardly like I did, because this could have just been so bad. But then I started reading, and was surprised by how quickly I bought the whole story, got nostalgic for a decade that didn't offer a whole lot in the ways of good music or fashion, just kept turning the pages, because I had to know what was going to happen to these kids!

Bonus Factor: The '90s

Oh man. Since most of my young adult life was spent in the '90s, it holds such a place of sentimentality and wincing embarrassment. They don't overdo it, but there are enough references to Dave Matthews and Alanis Morrissette being played on a discman to make me chuckle -- and also send up a silent prayer of thanks to Steve Jobs.

Bonus Factor: AOL

It's really kind of amazing that America Online didn't go bankrupt sending out all of those little start-up discs. I remember when it was really cool if you got one -- before they started coming in the weekly mailers. I think my dad has them hanging in the trees around his garden to keep the birds away.

Bonus Factor: Facebook

Some of the most enjoyable parts to read in this book were when Emma and Josh would try to understand Facebook, and why/how people over-share in their status updates. It was fun to take a look at just how much our social constructs have changed in the last 15 years, and to recognize that not all of these advancements are necessarily positive, because if you really do need help deciding whether to have mac and cheese or meat loaf for dinner, there might just be a bigger problem. And duh, go with the mac and cheese.

Casting Call:

Evan Peters as Josh

I've been so impressed of late with Evan Peters, I have a feeling that I'll be casting him all over the place.

Taissa Farmiga as Emma

And since we know they already work well together, let's just cast both of these kids and give them a break from all the weird.

Relationship Status: That Book I Hooked Up With At My Class Reunion

I wasn't even going to go to my reunion. But I did. I did, and I met this book (I say "met" because I have no recollection of ever meeting it before, even though we graduated together). We were both "late bloomers" -- that is to say that we both grew into our nerviness -- and were able to drink our way through shared reminiscence (even if we weren't a part of each other's individual memories) of our high school malcontent. It's no surprise that it turns out both this book and I are a lot happier than the prom queen and the star quarterback, so we cheered to that, too. And then we went back to this book's hotel room and had sex. Because we are adults. And it was way better than the homecoming dance and prom combined. Because we're adults. But since we're adults, we said a cordial goodbye the morning after, with no plans to look each other up, because while a walk down memory lane is a nice place to visit, neither of us need to live there.

Oh, and we're Facebook friends now.

FTC FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my review copy from Penguin. I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (damnit!). The Future of Us is available now.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.