It was time for me to find a new Young Adult novel. I had taken a break after reading the Uglies series, partly because I wanted to feel a little bit like a grown-up. Partly because after reading the Scott Westerfeld series (too) soon after finishing The Hunger Games, I was dystopia-ed out. But mainly, because of the holidays and, well — life — I wanted to be reading books I could actually put down. (Apparently, relatives do not like to believe they are less interesting than our imaginary friends.) Also, there was the whole ‘Good will towards man’ thing butting up against too many all-too-convincing totalitarian futures.
So after taking respite in the past and in food, which are pretty much interchangeable and equally pleasurable amongst my people, I decided to see what the Young Adult universe had to offer in the new year.
What I found in The Future of Us was a pleasure on many more levels than I expected. The premise alone is addictive — teens in 1996 accidentally stumble upon posts from their fifteen-years-older selves on this crazy thing called facebook. But as any fan of speculative fiction will tell you, a fabulous premise does not a satisfying execution bring …
Happily, The Future of Us delivers. Emma and Josh, two teens whose otherwise idyllic friendship has been temporarily derailed by the mixed-messaged and confounding hormonal booby traps we like to believe get cleared up in older age, discover that the AOL CD-ROM Josh’s mom is more than happy to pass along to Emma somehow gives them a glimpse into their future lives.
Emma and Josh alternate chapters written by two acclaimed YA authors, Carolyn Mackler and Jay Asher. But what could have come across as an amusing writing exercise is given real weight and heft by these two. Mackler and Asher know that life can be plenty perilous without a televised fight to the death or state-sanctioned aesthetic upgrade. (Not that the novels that go there aren’t absolutely mind-boggling; still, it’s good to remember that the comparatively humdrum little things always mean a lot, as well.) Some may wonder why Emma and Josh don’t cash in on what is to us so obviously the wave of the future. Others may feel that the teens are infuriatingly short-sighted, but I think that’s part of the novel’s charm. Knowledge is only as good as our ability to process it. How many of us at 16 could have fixed the problems that our thirty-something-year old selves couldn’t for the life of us get our heads around?
Put this in the un-put-downable column and snuggle up!