Lauren Fidler's Reviews > The Future of Us

The Future of Us by Jay Asher
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it appears, sadly, that jay asher is cursed with truly fascinating ideas but shitty follow through.

the premise here is sort of spectacular: two teens in 1996 are miraculously granted access to their Facebook pages fifteen years in the future for one crazy week at the end of their junior year in high school.

that's got potential.

but instead of it being a compelling study about learning how to be better people who don't necessarily post everything about their lives on the net ("Emma is wondering where her husband is - he's been gone for three days!") to learning how to date the people they want to be dating.

seriously.

it takes these crazy boy-girl next door-ers 16+ years (and one very, very long week) to figure out that they're, like, so totally meant to be. actually, scratch that. it takes emma, like, one week and one totally hot senior with big breasts to hit on josh for her to figure out that josh is all the man she could ever possibly want or need.

for right now.

seriously?

the universe opens up a mystical portal of information that permits its viewer a glimpse into the future and it is solely for the purpose of getting two high schoolers together?

no.

look, i get it. it's "deeper" than that. it's about emma learning to open up that frigid little heart of hers and let people in. it's about josh not doing what his mom and dad tell him to. or his brother. and finding out what he really, really, super-especially wants out of life.

right.

because at 16/17 that's a completely realistic expectation.

i guess it doesn't particularly surprise me that the teenaged characters gravitate to the superficial drivel in their lives - "oh, look, babies!" "hey! i'm married to the hottest girl in the world! score!" - what surprises me is that this is all the book seems to be about.

and what about the supporting cast? we get flimsy glimpses into the home lives of these kids, and those dynamics could have been far more engaging, you know, had they not been so one-noted. emma's mom is a marital nightmare, latching herself onto man after man after her divorce. emma's dad has a new wife, a new baby, and, presumably, a new life in florida, away from his daughter and her baggage. josh's brother is, apparently, gay, but denying it. at least in the present. in the future he's out and proud. of course, he's the one that tells josh that he needs to figure out what he wants and go after it, everyone else be damned. coming from a closeted man, the advice fails to deliver quite a punch.

and, also, if josh is a "go with the flow" type of guy, when his brother tells him to do this thing, isn't he just going with his brother's flow, so to speak? blech.

josh's parents are the most awful of the group, monitoring his life like some weird parental KGB. they won't let him have internet, he has to give his AOL CD to emma in order for them to use it. when he shows up late to school, they call school and have a message delivered to him that he must stop by after classes so that they can lecture him appropriately about his slacker attitude.

it seemingly has nothing to do with his affection for tony hawk and everything to do with their neurotic need to control him.

and that's it. there's no real resolution there at all. they're just terrible people who crush their sons' spirits. great.

but the biggest affront, fictionally speaking, is the kellan subplot. at some point, early in the week, emma gets it into her head that Facebook allows her to stalk everyone, not just herself, and she catches the fact that her bff gets pregnant in high school. there's no real confirmation either way as far as the text goes, just emma's blatant attempts at teaching her friend good birth control in the hopes she doesn't get knocked up in the back of someone's truck at the big senior bonfire.

yeah, that's really where this thing culminates.

i could also write a novel about the gratuitous cultural references that permeate the text. anyone who quotes DMB is not a friend of mine. and "crash into me" is nausea-inducing. the fact that emma salivates for "dave" makes me hate her even more.

although, admittedly, it does explain a lot about her personal failings, in some ways.

i don't know.

it's really not a bad book, it's just not a very good book either. i expected more from asher, whose 13 Reasons Why was poignant if a little imperfect.

this novel feels as hollow as a facebook status, a glimpse into a future that speaks more of the shallowness of humanity than the reality of the present, text that lacks both sufficient backstory and conclusion and one that forbids its reader to fully engage with its reader in any truly meaningful way.
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