Monday, February 13, 2012

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

The Future of Us

Author: Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Publisher: Razorbill

3½ out of 5 stars

Welcome!  You are now on the internet.  It’s your first time, and the year is 1996.  You can hear the soft, insistent whirring of the America Online CD-ROM as it spins in your CD tray.  A new message appears on your computer screen, and you can’t hide your excitement, as you hear, “You’ve got mail.”  The internet is the latest innovation, and you get to be one of the first to use it.  Your computer hums and crackles, and the vast possibilities of being online are just a click away.  But with one click of the mouse, what if your future were to change along with it? Click…

Emma and Josh have been next-door neighbors and best friends their entire lives.  They’ve grown up alongside one another, but that all changed when Josh read things the wrong way.  Now Emma and Josh barely see each other, let alone speak to one another.  But if anything can bring the two together, it’s the internet.

When Josh brings over an America Online CD-ROM with 100 free hours for Emma’s new computer, more than what they expected comes along with it.  Emma is shocked and bewildered to discover a little website called Facebook when she logs on.  The only thing is, Facebook hasn’t even been invented yet, and what she’s seeing is definitely not taking place anytime soon, but fifteen years into the future.  All Emma and Josh can do is watch their lives play out before their eyes, but they don’t necessarily like what they see on the screen.

As Emma and Josh learn more about their future selves, they also realize that they have a certain amount of control over their futures.  It is their lives after all.  But as Emma and Josh tinker with the mysterious workings of Facebook, not all the changes are for the better, some of them are worse, far worse.  Facebook is showing them things that they never could have imagined and don’t quite know how to fix.  Is Facebook here for good?  Will Emma and Josh be able to take control of their futures before they get out of hand?  All is revealed in Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler’s futuristic story of two teens’ trying to navigate their own lives in, The Future of Us!

The Future of Us mixes old and new to open up a window into a world of possibilities.   Things were constantly changing as Emma and Josh updated their statuses in the future, and struggled to cope with the changes in the present.  Set in 1996, it’s difficult to envision a time when the internet consisted mainly of sending emails and instant messages.       I suggest The Future of Us for older teens, as it does deal with some mature topics.

The Future of Us dealt with changes in both the future and the present, all the while opening up seams in the fabric of Emma and Josh’s lives.  Emma and Josh slowly realized that they had a certain amount of control over their own futures, and that they could dictate their own lives.  However, the more and more they obsessed over the future through Facebook, the less they lived in the here and now.  In a way I felt that The Future of Us spoke to our current generation as well, and that its time to step away from the computer before we miss out on what truly matters in the world around us.

Facebook played a large role in the story of The Future of Us, but Emma and Josh’s relationship with one another was an underlying storyline as well.  Everything Emma and Josh did stemmed from what they saw on Facebook, but their actions also came from their feelings for one another.   It was nice to have more to look forward to than just the time Emma and Josh spent on Facebook.  Emma and Josh’s complicated relationship with one another, and their playful banter made The Future of Us a light, fluffy read compared to Jay Asher’s previous novel, Thirteen Reasons Why.

It was interesting to see how decisions that Emma and Josh deliberately or accidently made in their present affected their futures in such a minute or drastic manner.  They could go from changing what they ate for dinner, to creating entire new lives for themselves.  The two of them were playing with fire, and they had to be careful not to get themselves burned.

Being born in 1997, it was hard for me to imagine what it was like living in 1996, even though it wasn’t too different from our own lives today.  It would have been nice to see even more instances of that time period throughout the book to make it feel more authentic, but it helped me relate to Emma and Josh’s situation even more, as I could identify with their surroundings.

The Future of Us is a light, romance that also deals with living in the here and now.  With seamlessly blended writing and a combination of old and new, this is a story that will get them thinking about what really matters in life.  Join Emma and Josh as they navigate the World Wide Web and click through their futures in, The Future of Us!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

Check out Jay Asher's website at
Check out Carolyn Mackler's website at


  1. What an interesting book concept. As someone who was growing up as the Internet begin to find a place in every household I would be curious to re-experience that through this book. Great review Tessa!

  2. Another great review, T.B.! I really liked your introduction to this one. I can vaguely remember 1996, as I was 5 at the time. You make me feel so old, haha :) I don't know if this book is really my kind of thing, though. I just don't find a book that uses facebook as a main plot point to be that enticing. I'll have to take your word for it. Thank you for the review!

    Lilly @ BookLungs


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