The Internet. It is so big I have not yet found the end of it, and that is not for lack of trying. What really slows my Internet exploration is Facebook. I can be quite distracted by Facebook. Mostly because my sisters post 8 million photos and I have to go through and make sure that all the pictures of me are not too silly. They almost always are, but that is okay, I am exceedingly silly. The point is, if there was a point to this at all, that the Internet before Facebook was slightly less distracting. There was also less of a chance of people finding out things about you, like your favorite muffin or just how much you love cats. But what if you stumbled upon your Facebook page before Facebook even existed? What if you saw your future via status updates and decided that you did not like what you saw? Would Facebook make you change your future? That is what Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler explore in The Future of Us.
Emma and Josh are two normal high school students just trying to survive in 1996. This is before iPods, before smartphones, and in a time when less than half of American high school students had ever used the Internet. So when Emma’s dad sends her a computer and Josh’s mom receives and America Online CD-ROM, Josh’s mom naturally gives Emma the CD. Seems pretty basic, right? Wrong! Emma logs on to discover herself on Facebook, fifteen years in the future. She can see where she goes to college, who she is still friends with, and who she is married too. She convinces Josh to come over (no small feat, she did reject him stunningly six months earlier) and they peer into his future as well. Knowing your future could be pretty cool, right? Get to see if you made all the right choices and such. But Emma hates her future. She is set to go change her Facebook page entirely, and she really doesn’t care what she has to do to ensure her perfect future. But can Josh let her change her future when it could ruin his own?
My attention was grabbed and held by this book because of the attention to detail. It may seem silly, but all the little mentions of things like Discmans and Green Day and how cool and new cellphones are is what kept you rooted in 1996. If you do not remember that, it can make the Internet and the discovery of Facebook less amazing. In order for you to be wowed by how far in the future they are seeing you need to be solidly rooted in the past. The teens in this book were all wonderful teens in terms of characterization. Even the bit players who you only met briefly were nicely fleshed out in a way that made them more than two dimensional caricatures. Parts were a little bit predictable, but that did not make them any less satisfying when they happened. In fact, most of the time I spent wanting them to happen, so I was always very happy when the predictable finally occurred. That sentence might not make sense right now, but if you read the book, you will see exactly what I mean.