Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Future of Us: Facebook > Magic 8 Ball?

As one of my New Year's "resolutions" (yes, like most, my resolve to stick to my resolutions is...flexible) is to Facebook less and read and review more, it seems fitting that my first review of the year be of Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler's The Future of Us.

Set in 1996, high school junior Emma's gotten her first computer and a CD for America Online from her former best friend/still next door neighbor, Josh. Expecting to set up a newfangled 'email' account and participate in some 'instant messaging,' Emma's startled to instead find herself on a website called "Facebook". And to find pictures of a 30-year-old woman who looks a LOT like Emma might in 15 years...

The Future of Us is one of those two-person, first-person narratives by two authors - Emma, written by Mackler, Josh, written by Asher - and while I do enjoy seeing events from different perspectives, these types of books (my favorite of which being Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist) always take me out of the story and make me wonder how the authors write these. Do they simply write a chapter, send it off, wait for the next chapter, read it, then continue the story? Do they first agree on an outline of where the story will go? Do they let the writing take over? Do they flip a coin when they disagree? Are there ever any fist-fights? ALL THESE QUESTIONS.

As for the story itself: I did find it a bit cliched/predictable, though I enjoyed this quick, fun read. HOWEVER: It's set in 1996, which, incidentally, was the year I graduated high school. Emma and Josh did/heard/listen to/watched/talked about things that were my life at that time, but I wonder if much of it would register with teenagers today. What I do think will resonate are the questions posed by the story: would you look if you could see what your life would be like in fifteen years? Would you try to change it if you didn't like what you saw? How might 'knowing' the future change your behavior in the present? What do your status updates say about you?

Those questions have stayed with me for days, and have made me rethink a couple of status posts, which could very well be a good thing!

Overall, I enjoyed The Future of Us and am considering introducing it for a book discussion - did you read it? What did you think?

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