Thursday, 5 January 2012

Review: The Future of Us - Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Published: January 5th 2012, Simon & Schuster
Pages: 356 pages, paperback
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): It's 1996 and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet. Facebook will not be invented for several more years. Emma just got a computer and an America Online CD-ROM with 100 free hours. When she and her best friend Josh log on to AOL they discover themselves on Facebook... fifteen years in the future. Everybody wonders what life has in store for them.

Josh and Emma are about to find out.

My review: I spent most of 2011 looking forward to The Future of Us; it's a novel that I knew I would love before I even cracked the spine. I just love the premise so much, there are so many possibilities for the plot and I think it's a book that is definitely going to create a lot of discussion between readers.

The obvious element to comment on is the 90s nostalgia that The Future of Us brings; it's impossible to read this one without remembering the days of yesteryear and it was so much fun being reminded of so many little details that bring me back to my childhood. I was aged between three and thirteen in the 90s so it really was the decade that I grew up. Even the description of loading the AOL CD and the sound of dial up took me back to days spent surfing AOL chatrooms with my best friend (and getting into flame wars with fellow Buffy fans, naturally).

I loved the music references as well and might have spent an entire afternoon with Dave Matthews Band on repeat to really set the scene. They're one of my favourite bands as it is so to have them unexpectedly crop up in a YA book made me a little overexcited. Some of the funniest moments in The Future of Us arise when Josh and Emma muse exactly what their future status updates mean - Josh wondering what might happen to pluto was probably my favourite moment and Emma pondering what 'Glee + Netflix' might mean was brilliant.

During the first third of the book, however, I did feel as though the 90s references were being a little shoe horned into the story. I began to wonder if Asher and Mackler wrote down a list of every memory they had from the 90s before they started writing and swore they would include every single one. I'm also interested to see what younger readers make of the 90s references as I do wonder if certain throw backs will have quite the same resonance to, say, fourteen year olds who weren't born until the decade drew to a close. It's like when I watch 80s movies (something I do on pretty much a daily basis); I love them with every fibre of my being but I can't quite have the same feeling of nostalgia that my mum and aunt do when they see shoulder pads and spandex on screen or in print.

The split narrative was a great device and I think it worked even better as each writer handled one character's chapters. I really did come to recognise Josh and Emma's voices quickly and never found it confusing to remember whose chapter I was on. It was interesting to note Mackler and Asher's different styles but rather than this being an issue, I think it helped to make the voices seem even more authentic.

One criticism I did have is that I felt the characters were slightly underwhelming, especially the secondary characters, Kellan and Tyson. I wish their relationship had been explored in a bit more depth, as I think it could have made a much more interesting subplot than it did. Taking away the main plot of Josh and Emma and the newly discovered Facebook there isn't too much else in the way of storylines, which I didn't necessarily mind but I definitely would have liked to get to know Kellan and Tyson a little better. One thing I did appreciate, however, is that Kellan and Emma were both independant, strong female characters. Hooray!

The Future of Us is an easy, breezy read that will leave you with a smile on your face and a little thought in the back of your mind about what you would do if you had the choice to see your future. Would you try to change things or do you believe that whatever happens, happens?

First line: 'I can't break up with Graham today, even though I told my friends I'd do it the next time I saw it.'

Read if you liked…: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

Rating:
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Total: 17/20 (A)

5 comments:

  1. I love this book - that is all :D

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  2. I need this purely for the awesome cover and potential 90s nostalgia!

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  3. I need this book! cant wait til I get paid, its being bought straight away! even if it is the other halfs birthday next month! ;)

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  4. I've been meaning to read this...I love the premise to death. Since I was just a kid in the 90's, though, I probably won't get most of the references. It sounds good!

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  5. Drat, Drat, Drat!

    You are seriously making me kick myself now - I picked this one up today but chose another one instead. :(

    Ahh, the memories of AOL and the sounds it made, the chat rooms and the blocking of the phone line - good times hehe!

    Fantastic review, adding to wish list - drat! drat! drat!!!

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Thank you kindly for the comment, you sweet thing.