Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

Title: The Future of Us
Author: Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publisher: Razorbill
Length: 356 pages
Original Publishing Date: November 21, 2011
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: Audiobook from the library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.

Main characters: 2/5

Emma got on my nerves. Don't get me wrong, I liked her transformation by the end, when she came to her senses. But she was sooo frustrating. It's that line that I've discussed between having a realistic character and having a likable character. That's a thin line and Emma crossed too far into unlikable. She was a little shallow and a little self-centered, and that just ended up hurting a lot of people and creating a lot of problems for herself. I will admit, however, that for most of us, this is more realistic than we might think. We should all be able to relate to Emma on some level, even if we still hate her for her flaws. Asher and Mackler just needed to tread the line more carefully so that we could still relate to Emma, even while recognizing her flaws within us.

Josh was sweet but sometimes a little bland. He was so content to sit back and let life guide him instead of choosing his own future (the complete opposite of Emma). At the end of the day, he was just a little too unremarkable for me, and not a very memorable character.

Secondary characters: 3/5

Kellan was vivacious and funny. Her relationship with Tyson was hot and cold, but I liked how she knew what she wanted and was open to everything. She was a good foil to Emma, which accentuated a lot of the character traits and conflicts in the novel.

Tyson seemed like your typical jock and, unfortunately, we didn't get to know him very well. His quips and jokes made me laugh but I wish he had been more developed.

The few other secondary characters were relatively unmemorable. Sydney, Josh's parents, and Emma's mom were brought up but I didn't feel like we ever got to know them in any meaningful way. Emma's mom had an interesting interaction with Emma that was probably the most relevant to the plot, but it wasn't used to the full extent that it could have been.

Writing style: 2/5

I didn't have any huge problems with the writing style of Asher and Mackler, but similarly, I felt like the writing style was nothing special. My biggest concern was the pacing. I was listening on audiobook, which normally keeps me engaged more, but I found myself zoning out and not paying attention because it felt like the same thing was happening over and over again.

Plot: 2/5 

I liked the idea of where the plot was headed overall, but I'll be honest, I thought that the delivery of the plot was pretty heavy-handed. The lessons that Emma and Josh learned were thrown in my face and it was incredibly obvious. Some subtlety would have been appreciated here.

Further, the pacing combined with the lack of major plot elements makes a cool premise lose a lot of stream. I had been so intrigued with the idea of Facebook and a sort of "time-travel", but the conflict itself was relatively petty. For a story that could have been pretty intense and action-packed, it seemed very trivial and catty.

Ending: 2/5

The ending was mediocre. I felt like there was a lot that needed to be discussed and the conflict was simply skimmed over. While some parts of it gave me the warm fuzzies and made me smile, I was overall a little disappointed in the execution of the idea and also in the obviousness of the "lesson" that they learned.

Best scene: Probably the final scenes

Reminded Me Of: Thirteen Going on Thirty meets The Social Network

Positives: The premise, Kellan & Tyson, the warm fuzzies at the end

Negatives: The obviousness of the lessons, Emma, the pacing, unmemorable secondary characters, Josh's blandness

Cover: I can't decide. I like the concept, but I don't know if I like the outcome...

Verdict: What a cool premise! Ultimately, it just fell a little short for me. 

Rating:  4.4 / 10 (3 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

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