Linna's Reviews > The Future of Us

The Future of Us by Jay Asher
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Nov 28, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: disappointing, for-review, contemporary
Read in January, 2011

What if you could log on to your computer one day and see your Facebook profile– decades into the future? Emma and Josh are about to find out, and Facebook hasn’t even been invented yet. The discoveries they make bring up difficult choices: what if you decide that your future isn’t everything you wanted it to be? Do you try to change it, or should you let fate run its course? Because every day Emma checks her profile, the details are different depending on her actions in the present. While she is disappointed to find herself jobless with a possibly cheating husband, Josh has everything he could ever want. He’s happily married to the most popular girl at school, living in the best neighborhood in town.

The possibilities are staggering, and it’s definitely a fascinating premise. It’s fun to go back to the nineties, especially since it seems not so long ago, but the way internet and technology changed how we live is kind of crazy in comparison. There are plenty of not-so-subtle hints that love reminding you of the setting, and it’s pretty fun to see the two characters discover this mysterious Facebook thing. Once the novelty wears off, however, there’s nothing to truly carry the story; the conflicts and possibilities are not compelling enough, and midway through the book I that slow, sad feeling that I couldn’t bring myself to care about their situation.

That’s the one glaring area where THE FUTURE OF US is really, really lacking– the characters. Maybe it’s hard to settle on personalities and keep them consistent in a collaboration, but Emma and Josh are so void of character that it’s hard to care what happens to them and their futures at all. It’s almost shocking how little effort was put into making any of the cast a fully-rounded person, instead they’re all just kind of… there, carrying out actions of the cool concept of the book. There’s also the mandatory best friends with one or two defining traits (‘smart’ or ) but I really couldn’t stand how I finished the book and all I was left with was the impression that Emma is quite whiny, while Josh is nice and likes to skateboard.

Of all the cliched elements in contemporary novels, That Bad Thing That Happened can be a great way to add suspense to a story, or it can just be a lazy way that just screams plot device. It’s more of the latter in this case. In both POVs, you’ll be told again and again that they used to be friends, until That One Thing happened. Then you’re left desperate to know WHAT HAPPENED, ALREADY??? until the very end until the big flashback reveals itself; it’s used in Cracked Up to Be, Sweethearts, and a ton of other books with varying results, and let’s just say that it’s not all that suspenseful here.

It's just not that much more than average. I’ve heard great things about both of these authors, but just because it’s a collab doesn’t mean you can completely forget about expectations that readers might have from your previous works; I can’t help but feel that there wasn’t a huge amount of effort put into THE FUTURE OF US. The writing is also pretty minimalistic, and it’s not that it should be over-the-top and flowery, but something other than basic actions would make it more of an engaging read.
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