Thursday, 21 June 2012

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

The Future of Us
by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Series: None
Pages: 356
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: 5th January 2012
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

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Goodreads synopsis:
It's 1996 and very few high school students have ever used the internet. Facebook will not be invented until several years in the future. Emma just got a computer and an America Online CD. She and her best friend Josh power it up and log on - and discover themselves on Facebook in 2011. Everybody wonders what they'll be like fifteen years in the future. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

When this book arrived, I was ridiculously excited. I was really in the mood for a fun, Young Adult, contemporary fiction read, and with this, I got all three! Plus, I'd heard so many good things about it, that I was confident I'd really enjoy it. Despite this, I hadn't planned on reading it as soon as it arrived - but that's exactly what happened. I have this habit, when I get a new book, to flick through it a bit - maybe even read the opening chapter - and that's what I did with this. Except I didn't just stop at the first chapter, and before I knew it, I was a third of the way through. This should be enough evidence to show you just how gripping this book is!

The premise of the novel is also really interesting - yes, it could be seen as a bit cheesy - but it is actually really entertaining. The story is set in 1996, and follows Josh and Emma; next-door neighbours, and school friends. When Emma gets a computer and AOL internet for the first time, they immediately log on, and the first thing they discover is their facebook profiles, 15 years in the future. They soon realise that, even the smallest thing they change in the present, can have a dramatic effect on their futures. It was really interesting to see how just a small action, like splashing a vase of dirty water on the carpet, could alter the characters' futures so much. Although, the wisdom of doing this becomes questionable, because they don't know whether they're changing the future for the better, or making it worse.
So like I said, maybe a bit cheesy, but definitely entertaining.

Josh and Emma were really great protagonists for the novel. They were quite different from one another in some ways, but similar enough, so that when the chapters switched from Josh's perspective, to Emma's (I love a good perspective switch!), it felt really natural, and flowed really well all the way through. I think that's also part of what makes it such an easy and light read.
I think, out of the two of them, I liked Josh the best. This is mostly because he was a really kind and caring person, but also because I did end up wishing that Emma would make up her mind quite a lot. She was really indecisive when it came to her feelings about Josh, and she was the only one that was really trying to change her future, being convinced that she was unhappy in the future, and she needed to change it now. She just seemed a lot less mature than Josh, and I wanted her to realise that she was going about everything in the wrong way, much, much sooner.
I loved them together though - they just seemed like the perfect couple, and I was really hoping that they would realise this.

There were a couple of tiny, little things that did annoy me about this book. They're not major, but I am going to mention them, because they did irritate/confuse me.
The first point is the one that confused and irritated me, and that is the mention of cell phones. So the story is set in 1996, and cell phones did exist, but obviously they're nothing like the phones we have today.
At one point in the story, when Emma is reading some of the status updates on Facebook, one of them says something along the lines of 'I got your text', and Emma then says "I have no idea what a text is".
Now, perhaps this wouldn't cause a reaction in some readers, but it did with me. One of the other characters, Sydney, has a cell phone, so I know that Emma would have come across one at some point, so I decided that I was going to research cell phones from 1996, and I discovered that a lot of them did have an SMS function. So surely she'd have known what a text was, even if she'd never actually sent one? Was I confused? Yes.

The other point that irritated me a little, was a stereotypical view of the British. And I'm British. I've noticed that a lot of Americans have a fairly idealised and stereotypical view of us English - and when an American author attempts to portray the British, it's often completely off the mark, and can irritate me quite a lot. And yeah, this happened in this book.
It was with Emma again, and again she was reading her future Facebook status updates. One of them starts off with "I can't stand how people in England say "Good day" all the time". Now, I'm English, and I don't believe I've ever said 'Good day' to someone as a greeting (except perhaps in the sentence "Have you had a good day?"), nor has anyone ever said it to me. We say 'Hello', or 'Hi', or 'Hey' - some of us even say 'alright?' - but not 'Good day'. And we didn't say it in 1996 either. We're not stuck in the Victorian era, you know.
Anyway, that's my rant over. Other than these minor irritations, I really did enjoy the book, but I just needed to set the record straight - particularly on that last point.

Overall, the book is a really enjoyable one, as long as you don't try to take it too seriously. It's meant as a bit of fun, and that's exactly what it is. It's a light-hearted, fun and amusing romantic comedy, and I loved pretty much every moment. I definitely recommend picking it up!


Emily said...

The Future of Us is a really cute book! I really liked it too :)

Tabitha said...

I almost bought this book at the bookstore yesterday, and now I kinda wish I did! It sounds pretty great. I'll definitely need to get it the next time I see it!

Thanks for the great review. (:

caroline.taylor078 said...

I read this at the start of the year and loved it, I was actually a teenager in 1996 so it was easy for me to remember loads of stuff it mentioned, I agree about the 'Good Day' thing, I have never said that and have never had it said to me either, however I didn't know what a text was back then, I didn't actually have a mobile until about 2001. I'm glad you enjoyed the book as I saw a video you did when you were a bit into it.

Chocolate Chunky Munkie said...

Great review Dani!! I think after reading your positive review it's going to have to go on the wishlist :D

Loves xx

Pen to Paper said...

Caroline: Wow, okay... Maybe it's just alien to me, that someone wouldn't know what a text is. I just thought I'd research cell phones in 1996 and see what they were like, to see if text messaging was around then, which it apparently was. I shall take that back then :P
But GAH, the Good day thing really irritated me - to the point where, even though it was quite a small thing, I still remembered it when I finished the book, and came to write my review notes :P

Jen: You can have my copy next time I see you :) xx

Chocolate Chunky Munkie said...

Thank you hun, it sounds like a good book!

Jaycee said...

The only time I've said Good Day is in an Aussie accent - well very ishy Aussie accent, but that was more of a G'day, so like you said they got us so wrong in that, I do wish they would research this "English character" more as this kind of nonsense can spoil the whole book for me as I feel the author has let themselves down & how do I know other facts in the book are not incorrect.

Pen to Paper said...

Jaycee: I hadn't thought about imitating Australians... not that I do that much. And again, that's probably a really horrible stereotype for them as well!
Thankfully, there were no English characters in the book, just this one mention, but it did end up sticking out for me. Still enjoyed the rest though!

miscellaneous said...

I think this might be an enjoyable read. it's fun to see a small thing like facebook updates incorporate in the story. i love the idea anyway. great review.

Grace Lo said...

I thought that The Future of Us was great, too, although I do have a few objections to some things in your review such as the texting thing. Although it is somewhat logical to think that if something existed, that many people would know what it is. I for one did not know what html was until a few months ago. Of course, it may be due to my own ignorance of technology *sigh* But overall, I still think that your review was very thoughtful and had great points c:

girlwiththehazeleyes said...

oh my gosh this book looks really really interesting i hope i can find it at my local library!! (:

Suz said...

This book sounds great! I am always looking for a fun, light read so this definitely appeals to me! It's also good to know that people in England say hi and hello just like Americans :) Thanks for this great review!

~Jennifer~ said...

I love the cover of this book and am really wanting to read it. It sounds interesting and original. Great review!

Cassi said...

I want to read this so bad!!

ZaraAlexis said...

You're completely right about the text issue and the "Good Day" comment! I've never heard someone from Britain to actually say it myself and my cousin lives in Liverpool! LOL. I read the book, too, and I also liked Josh more than I did Emma (I actually found her a little immature and too self-involved)! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

grace crawford said...

I absolutely loved everything about this book. It was clever and made me look up the Dave Matthews Band. The only thing I didn't like was that it didn't tell what happened to Emma and Josh. It would have been cute to have their Facebook pages in the back to see what happened to them. But I swallowed this book up in an amazing less than 24 hour period. Buy and enjoy:)
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