Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Release date: November 21, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Group, Inc.)
Book Links: jay asher, carolyn macklergoodreads

from  It’s 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They’ve been best friends almost as long – at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh’s family gets a free AOL CD in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they’re automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. And they’re looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.
By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they’re forced to confront what they’re doing right – and wrong – in the present.


my take:  The story premise is what made me pick this up – what would you do if you could see 15 years into your future?  Would you try to save the world, corner the stockmarket, or see if you married well and were deliriously happy?  And what would you do if your life seemed … unhappy?

Emma is upset that her future life seems to be miserable, and experiments with small changes that effect her future posts.  I suppose I did not like Emma very much – she seemed very self centered.  She let her gross boyfriend grope her even though she was planning on breaking up with him … ugh, why did she do that?  She kisses Josh just to mess with their future timeline, even though she knew Josh had a thing for her and she burned him big time 6 months previous when he’d revealed it … not very nice.  What she reads into her innocuous facebook posts is that she is married to a loser … so she decides not to go to the college where she meets him.  But the future guy she marries instead is even worse … so she changes something else … on and on it goes until it’s so mixed up I couldn’t keep it straight.

I really wanted a lot more emotional development from Emma, or maybe make her a little more considerate of Josh. She does look up her best friend Kellan on Facebook, and try to prevent her from making a major mistake; but she does it by slipping a condom in her jacket pocket instead of actually talking to her about her love life or preventing pregnancy.

I liked Josh.  He was an easygoing, laid back skater dude, and even though Emma spurned him he came over to help her when she discovered “Facebook” on her computer and thought it was a mean prank.  When he found out he would be happily married to the hottest girl in school, with a good job and (eventually) three kids, did he get a swelled head and lord it over Emma because she rejected him?  No, he did not.  Even his interactions with his “future wife” were sweet.  Yep, he was a nice guy.

My other big disconnect was the whole “opening up a future Facebook with an AOL CD-ROM” thing.  I must have gotten hundreds of those things in the mail, but I never got a wormhole to the future in mine, ha ha.  Actually, I just wanted a little more explanation on the hows and whys of that.  And alllll the ’90s references were there - Diskmans, dial-up noise, skateboarding, beepers, Alanis Morissette and Dave Matthews Band.  Got it.  Actually, the funniest bits were when Emma and Josh tried to make sense of all the modern day references – what is Glee, Netflix, and what horrible thing happened to planet Pluto?

The idea that every decision you make influences your future was really interesting.  I could see the potential for this story being so much more than it was, but it fell a little short for me.  I liked it OK, but wish I had liked it better, because there were so many great reviews out there they made me want to give it a try.

See you in the STACKS,

5 Responses to “Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler”

  1. Nancy,
    I have to say I agree. I pride myself on being a HUGE Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler fan and so wanted to love this book with every fiber of my being…but found it only okay. However, David Levithan interviewed Carolyn and Jay (for me-I filmed) -and the interview is fascinating, so in terms of writing process, it’s pretty cool. I’m letting Stacy work on that for me though so THANKS STACY – get excited to see it when it debuts!

    I LOVED the 90′s references–such nostalgia for my tapes, DMB, Discman etc., but I didn’t embrace the characters as much as I wanted to. The ending was satisfying though…

    So I’d say-it’s a quick read to get your nostalgia on, but not something that you have to drop everything to read RIGHT NOW!

  2. Tori Scott says:

    Eeek! I haven’t read this one so I had to kind of skim the review. I hope I like it. I saw that you said the concept had “potential.” I’ve heard mixed reviews, so maybe they’ll write a second one in which things are 100% awesome. Yes? :)

  3. Nancy says:

    Sarah – I think you summed it up perfectly for me! Can’t wait to see your interview!!!

    Tori – They are a great collaborative duo, so yes I hope for more from them!

  4. Autumn says:

    I’m a big Jay Asher fan, but this book is going to be featured in one of our “Didn’t Finish” posts. I really didn’t like it. The idea of it was good, but it wasn’t working for me at all.

  5. Katie says:

    I had such mixed feelings about this one as well! I loved the 90s references – YM magazine! – but feel like so many of them were probably lost on teen readers. Plus Emma drove me nuts with the way that she always thought other people were responsible for making her unhappy in the future. Helloooo – if you’re always upset, the problem just might be you! Oh well… it wasn’t a favorite but was still a fun read!

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