In Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler’s novel The Future of Us, it’s 1996 and Emma has just gotten a new computer. Her friend Josh gives her an AOL CD and when she gets it all hooked up she finds a link to something called Facebook. She and Josh investigate it and it appears it’s a webpage where people post all sorts of weird details about their lives. The thing is that they are both on it, fifteen years in the future.
This is great for Josh because Facebook says he’s married to the hottest girl in school who’s never even noticed him before. Emma on Facebook is unhappy though. And then Emma and Josh discover that changes they make affect the future they can see. There’s a good bit of conflict between Josh who wants to maintain that future he sees, and Emma who is scared of what hers holds and wants to make sure it doesn’t come to pass.
It’s a really clever idea for a book of dealing with knowledge of the future. They can’t put together a whole life from what they’re looking at on Facebook, but what they can see is changing things. It’s a good story about relationships and how they work themselves out too. The alternating chapters between Josh and Emma’s perspective worked well, highlighting their different concerns. The rest of their friend group is also well-developed. These kids do a lot of dating and it comes off in a very mature (yet recognizably high-school) way.
What I was less a fan of was the clear signposting of “This is 1996!” I realize that the target audience probably needs the details so they don’t forget why no one is using an iPhone, but especially in the opening chapter it was pretty tedious to read about cool new Windows 95 and cordless phones and “Friends” and listening to Green Day. I mean, I get it, it was just annoying to me. That wears off pretty quick though, and I liked the book as a whole.