It's hard to believe that 10 years ago, there was no Facebook. We didn't live to take the better, more exciting profile picture. We didn't endlessly overshare our lives in sentence-long status updates. There was no one writing on our Walls, "liking" our posts, or tagging embarassing photos of us. It wasn't nearly so easy to "stalk" the people we knew back when. In fact, it was nearly unimaginable to think that we'd share so much of our lives in a place where everyone could see. Imagine how much you could find out about yourself if you stumbled upon your future Facebook page years before Facebook was even invented, and then you've stumbled upon the clever premise of The Future of Us.
It's 1996 when Emma gets her first computer, and when her next-door neighbor, Josh, stops by to volunteer one of those America Online 100 free hours CD-ROMS, Emma dutifully waits out the hours long install, and dials up to the internet (Ah, the good ol' days!). Upon logging on for the first time, Emma mysteriously stumbles upon, you guessed it, a Facebook page for a woman that seems stunningly like her. In fact, it is her, only 15 years in the future. Thinking it's a stupid prank, Emma demands that Josh look, too, and soon the pair are wrapped up in their future lives which are being all-too-easily altered by even the smallest ripples of what they are doing in 1996.
The Future of Us is a clever tale that should have wide appeal. Readers from my generation who remember logging onto AOL for the first time with the sound of a dial-up modem ringing in their ears will get a kick out of all the vaguely nostalgiac references to the things that remind us of our own teenagerhood. I mean, who doesn't get a laugh out of the stone ages when we had to get off the internet if we wanted to make a phone call, at least until we got that coveted second phone line? Today's teenagers should fall in love with Emma and Josh, neighbors and former best friends whose relationship has grown more than a little awkward since some signals were misread and hearts were broken. It's easy to relate to these two teens who are neither super popular nor super losers.
Whether you're young or old, it's not hard to understand Emma's obsession with whether she'll be happy in the future and Josh's desperation to hang on to a future that's beyond his wildest dreams. The suspense of waiting for their next look into their futures keeps the pages turning even as the tension of preserving or obliterating their Facebook futures drives the two friends apart. Asher and Mackler's story pops with realistic dialogue and is a fun read that reminds us that happiness isn't out there somewhere waiting to happens, sometimes it's right in front of our eyes.
The Future of Us hits bookstore shelves November 21st.