17 January 2012

The Future is Now

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Macker (November 21, 2011, Razorbill)
Review by Kelly Lucas

ATTENTION 80's [and early 90’s] BABIES*: You need to read this book.

It's 1996 and Emma just got a computer (with Windows '95!). Josh, Emma’s best friend and the boy next door, gets a CD for an AOL trial. They put the CD in the computer and Facebook of 2011 pops up on the screen. With their future lives.

I put this book on my Christmas list without even knowing what it was about because I adore Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why. That never happens. I always know. I was very excited Christmas morning, but still didn't know what it was about. I read the back cover and was hooked. I love books that play with time**. I started reading that day and couldn't put it down.

Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler do a wonderful job putting you in 1996. It's a huge part of the book. Emma listens to Dave Matthews on her Walkman [remember those?] and only the rich, popular girl has a cell phone. If you start to forget that you are in 1996, Asher and Mackler add a reference to remind you. I was only 7 in 1996, I don’t remember much, but I remember my friends getting their first computers and dialing into AOL. I didn’t just love the references made throughout the book. I loved how Asher and Mackler depicted the lifestyle of 1996 so well. Emma, Josh and their friends didn’t focus on being online or on their cell phones all the time, but called each other on their house phones and went out to bonfires. Josh, like many teenagers in the 90’s, was a big skateboarder and Emma runs after school. It was life without the Internet. Remember that?

Lately, I feel like I have to read fifty pages to get into the core of the book. Not with The Future of Us. Asher and Mackler didn’t keep me waiting and within pages, Josh is bringing Emma the AOL CD. Emma installs it that night to find Facebook on her screen moments later. I was hooked from page one and did not want to put it down. When I finished, I turned the page and saw the next page blank. I freaked out. I wasn’t done, yet! Don’t get me wrong, I loved the ending. I just wanted more from Asher and Mackler!

While I love Jay Asher and 13 Reasons Why, I have never been a fan of Carolyn Mackler. Jay’s writing of Josh was just like Clay from 13 Reasons Why - so real. You couldn’t help but fall for Josh and be on his side, to keep going on with their lives and forget the future Facebook predicted. I was less than amused with Emma. Honestly, she annoyed me. Facebook sucked her in and she became obsessed. She was so over-concerned with how her life turned out that she was starting forget to live in the moment. I immediately saw myself and my obsession with Facebook in her, and it scared me. I didn’t want to forget to live in the moment.

If there’s one thing I took from this fantastic novel, it’s that we can spend too much time time online, worrying about people who we don’t really talk to in real life. Since reading this book, I’ve taken a step back from Facebook. Unlike Twitter, I feel fake on Facebook, putting my status up for the world to see. Yet, it’s not for them, it’s for me. On Twitter, my followers follow me because they want to hear what I have to say. Twitter comes into the real world with me as I work, study and play; Facebook is a distraction.

So thank you Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, you didn’t just give me a great book, but part of my life back.

*But really, everyone should read this book.
**Time lords are cool.


  1. The one bookish criticism I had was that dial up would never get along with modern Facebook. Back in 2009, we still had dial-up and it refused Facebook's advances completely. All I would get was a dead, empty screen with a Facebook logo at the top. But then, that is part of the MAGIC of the book, so I just went with it! I really enjoyed The Future of Us, I finished it today!

    1. I'm replying to you, Laura, because I CAN. FINALLY.

      Also, this is probably a book that I will check out from the library once they have it. I'm intrigued by "future Facebook" and the destruction it causes. (I'm not sure it can be much more than the destruction it potentially already causes, but it sounds interesting.)

    2. It really is interesting, and I think you will enjoy it!

    3. It was a newer idea, which is completely refreshing when everything is dystopia and vampires. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it because it was something DIFFERENT.