It’s 1996 and the Internet is something that most high school students haven’t been introduced to. When Emma’s father sends her her first computer and her best friend Josh brings over an American Online CD-ROM, they have no idea how their lives are about to change. Emma logs on and a site familiar to almost everyone today pops up; it’s Facebook. The only problem? Facebook hasn’t been invented yet and Emma is looking straight into her future; a future she doesn’t like. Josh and Emma grapple with what they see as their futures with Josh set to marry a girl he’s had a crush on and Emma bouncing in and out of dead-end relationships. In a desperate attempt to avoid her ill fate Emma begins making small decisions in her current life that alter the future radically. Josh is afraid she’s going to mess up his own idyllic future and tries to stop her. In the process the two of them find out that what’s going on in their current lives is much more important that what they future might hold. They find that maybe what they want most has been in front of them all along.
The Future of Us uses one main literary device in the telling of the story. It is written from a dual point of view format, with each chapter alternating between the main characters Josh and Emma’s voice. The book is co-written by two authors, with Jay Asher writing Josh’s chapters and Carolyn Mackler writing Emma’s. This was a very effective way of telling the story and getting direct insight into the thoughts and motivations of both main characters. If the story were told from only Emma’s point of view, or only Josh’s point of view, we would lose the depth of the story. Because we are able to see into the minds of both characters we get the full experience of the love story unfolding in the book. Because each chapter alternates with a different author the voice of each character is wholly different and very unique. It really felt like being in the minds of two different people. As the story unfolds and Josh and Emma begin to have feelings for each other, the dual point of view offered a sort of omniscience not provided by a typical first person point of view narrative. The insight into both character’s emotions offers the reader a chance to be all-knowing and understand the outcome before the characters actually do on the page. It’s a very different experience knowing what’s about to happen ahead of time and cheering for the characters to figure it out and come together in the end. The dual point of view works very effectively in the telling of this story.
Although I thought the dual point of view worked well and offered a uniquely different reading experience, I didn’t care for this book all that much. I absolutely loved the idea of two teens coming across Facebook fifteen years before it actually comes to fruition and trying to alter their futures, but I didn’t feel like the idea was very well executed in the book. The two teens in the story come across as very shallow and vapid, only thinking about themselves and never how their actions might affect others, including their other friends and their parents. Emma is a very selfish character who spends a lot of time whining about her future, yet doing nothing in her current reality to make things better. Josh is obsessed with his crush Sydney Mills only because she’s beautiful and popular and takes much too long in the narrative to come to the conclusion that he’s really rather just be with Emma. As a reader I could tell that the book was leading up to having Josh and Emma romantically linked, but it took much too long to get there and dragged a bit. I did appreciate how well-developed the secondary characters of Kellan and Tyson were. Their friendship-turned-romance was much more satisfying and organic than that of the main characters and carried the book for the most part. In the end I wanted to love this book for its amazing premise, but was disappointed with how it was executed. So much more could have been done with the idea. There were just too many sections of the book that dragged and didn’t move the plot of the story forward for me to really get into it.
This book does have a wide range of appeal for readers. Teens today will love it already knowing the ins and outs of Facebook and the Internet, while adults might love it for the trip down memory lane. Set in 1996, the book does an excellent job of setting the scene with vital pop culture references that brought me right back to my own high school days. The authors did an excellent job of staying true to the time.