The Future of Us takes place in 1996, when the world was just getting introduced to the internet. Emma and Josh are best friends and upon putting an AOL disc into Emma’s new computer, they find themselves on a strange site called “Facebook”. Their curiosity gets the better of them as they view pages with their names on it and pictures of themselves looking older – 15 years older. They soon get caught up in seeing what their future holds, and how what they do today could change their future selves.
The idea isn’t a unique one… it’s like the theory of the butterfly effect; where the slightest change – a flutter of a butterfly’s wings – could cause a ripple effect that changes more substantial events. What Asher and Mackler have done is to put names to this time-travelling-type story. By quantifying it with nostalgic mentions of AOL discs and Facebook, it allows the readers to feel more connected to the book.
My initial feeling on the book (all of 2 chapters in) was a bit eye-rolling. It felt that the authors were trying too hard to insert nostalgic references, just for the sake of mentioning “old” things. There was one sentence or two in particular where it felt really contrived… where, and I’m paraphrasing, Emma would put the AOL disc into the computer, tie a scrunchie in her hair and strap a Discman onto her arm as she goes for a jog. (Hm. I don’t know about you, but Discmans were prone to skip quite a bit on its own let alone strapping it to your arm for a jog! Even the “sport” models!) Thankfully, the book’s 90’s references were a bit more spaced out and seamlessly used into the story as the novel went on. I wonder, though, how much of it might actually be lost on many of the Young Adult readers. Those who are in their early to mid-teens would have just been born in and around 1996 and probably have no idea what most of the nostalgia is all about.
The Future of Us is an entertaining, quick read. The characters are engaging and it definitely leaves you wanting more. For how much the book is about the futures of these two best friends, a lot of it is situated in their present. What’s also interesting to consider is potentially how dated this book will be in another 10-15 years at the rate of changing technology now. There could easily be a sequel where kids are reminiscing about the days when there was some strange site called “Facebook” that everybody posted random stuff about themselves on!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ (3/5 stars)
The Future of Us is currently available in stores.
Check out the book trailer!