What do you think of when you remember May of 1996? At the time I was 14 and in love with the boy down the street and playing softball. When I read a review of “The Future of Us” in People, I knew I wanted to read it to go back in time just for a bit. I did not realize that this book was Young Adult, but I suppose that fact made the book more basic and faster to read. I sped through this in 2 days. The book focuses on the friendship of two-life long best friends and neighbors Emma and Josh. It is the week before Memorial Day weekend, and Emma receives a computer as a gift from her estranged father. She is adjusting to new life with her mother and step-dad, so she is excited to get the internet at her home. Josh has an AOL disk with 1000 free minutes on it (remember those?!) and brings it over. Apparently, Josh and Emma had a blow to their friendship 6 months earlier, so the two are trying to re-build their friendship. When Emma logs on to AOL, she sees a strange website called Facebook on her links page. Surprisingly enough, Emma and Josh now have the most popular website of our present day in their hands, fifteen years early. Can you imagine what you would do if you were 15 and Facebook just magically showed you your future? I probably would have imploded. I used to drive by my crush’s house multiple times a day just to get a glimpse of him. I thought this was a great concept, but the book was executed in a strange way.
First of all, the character of Emma is really annoying. I know, I know, I was a teenage girl once and I too was super annoying, but she is shallow and thoughtless. She only dates boys who are hot and she doesn’t give any bit of herself to find true love. Ummm…. ok you are fifteen. Fifteen year olds are not capable of holding back with all of those hormones. Give me a break. Also, she is whiny and just not likeable throughout most of the book. As she looks at her future Facebook postings, she deems herself insane since she posts very personal posts and even says, “I must be crazy in the future because why would I say this on a public website?” Exactly. The girl is dependent central on what boy likes her and if she can have a good husband or not. Gag. Her best friend, Kellan, is just as ridiculous. I forgot how insane teenage angst can be even when it is pathetic.
Josh, however, is very likeable and sweet. He finds out that he is destined to marry the prettiest girl in school, which sends him over the edge as you can believe would happen to any person if they knew that. (I know I would have died knowing a future hook-up to take place in college when I was high school… just saying!) There are two other main characters named Tyson and Kellan, who play as the foils. These two can’t seem to make up their mind if they should be together or not.
I really enjoyed imagining myself back in high school in 1996. The subtle reminders like Dave Matthews Band’s latest CD release “Crash” (which I had given to said down-the-street-crush) to renting VHS tapes on Wayne’s World and even having family night of recording TV shows and watching them together. It seems like every generation gets nostalgic about their youth. My one real complaint of the book was the character’s names. None of these names were popular in the 90’s (well, except for Josh which is always popular.) I graduated with a class of over 400 and there wasn’t a single Emma or Tyson. In fact, the name Kellan is not a name I have ever heard before. Now if Emma’s name was Jennifer, then I would believe it more.
This is a quick time-capsule of a read, which I enjoyed to a point.
Jen’s Rating: ***