Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn

Book cover of The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
I can’t help but think that the sales figures for The Future of Us are derived directly from the gimmicky plot. It’s a strange concept to write a novel about, even for YA – but it obviously intrigued a great deal of us enough to buy it. Unfortunately, it was executed so poorly that I have to wonder why it’s received so many glowing reviews.

Summary: 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. 

I like Jay Asher – I read Thirteen Reasons Why and loved it, so why is this book so horribly, terribly written? Aside from anything else, that book dealt with serious issues in an adult way, while this one… this one’s about Facebook. But hey, I wouldn’t have bought it in the first place if I didn’t find that interesting. Even the sub-plots come across as shallow and immature, so the teenage-centric theme had no chance. All the characters seem to think about nothing but boys/girls, the Internet or parties and it does wear thin after a while.

My primary irritation was the complete and utter lack of explanation. Emma loads up the Internet on her computer for the very first time… and suddenly There Is Facebook. I know, I know – it seems like my own laptop does that 99% of the time, but at least I’m dimly aware that it’s my own fault. The not-overly-short novel doesn’t explain at any point why she can suddenly visit the Facebook of the future or how it’s shown up on only her computer. More than that, Emma doesn’t even wonder herself. After establishing that it’s not a practical joke, she isn’t even mildly interested in the fact that apparently she has Super Facebook Powers. I love dystopian novels and books about time travel, but I do like to have a reasonably feasible explanation.


I liked the whole concept of every tiny action having huge repercussions in the future. The genders and ages of Emma and Josh’s children alter frequently depending on how they have interacted with their future spouses that day. Unfortunately this is where Emma really comes into her own. She just can’t stop whining. After investigating her future spouse, she whines that he isn’t attractive enough or they live in the wrong city, so she goes out of her way to change her future, uncaring about the consequences for Josh or anybody else. She’s obsessed with a certain guy at her school and is determined that Facebook will name him her one-day husband. Unlikeable, complaining main characters are a pet hate of mine and Emma epitomises everything that annoys me.

InstaRomance. Hate. So, we know that Josh likes Emma since before the book even began; it says that on the blurb – so I suppose we can excuse him from having to believably fall in love with her in front of our eyes, since hey, theoretically he already has. Emma only sees him as a slightly awkward friend until well, suddenly she doesn’t. There’s so gradual build-up or any form of realism, it just kind of… happens. Literally.

I don’t know, I guess. It’s more than readable – I got through it in just a few hours, but that was partly due to my desperate need to Read. Something. Else. I had hoped it would deal with the interesting concept in a manner a little less shallow. I just can’t help but think it could have been so much more if the writing style wasn’t so basic and clunky.

Visit Jay Asher’s website here, or find him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. What a quirky idea for a book, it's a shame it didn't work out. Emma sounds very annoying to say the least!

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about your lupus (it runs in my family too) but so glad that you found solace in books. There is an American writer whose novels were highly influenced by her lupus, Flannery O'Connor. Maybe you'd like to take a look to her works!

    I wish you the best!

  3. Jana says:

    Oh man… I was so excited for this one! It's too bad it wasn't as good as it might have been, had the execution been better. Drat! I was curious about this one. Not anymore, though!

    – Jana @ http://thatartsyreadergirl.blogspot.com/

  4. Hanna says:

    @Jana – I don't know, I wouldn't dismiss it completely. It has got A LOT of good reviews. Maybe I was just irritable that day, but I didn't think it lived up to the hype. But hey, it's got to be popular for a reason, right?

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