Monday, October 3, 2011

The Future of Us, by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler: AIM for memory lane!

The Future of Us
by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Razorbill: New York
ARC reviewed, pub date November 21, 2011

It's 1996, the internet was accessed through the phone line, few people had computers, Jerry Maguire showed us the money, band camp hadn't yet been slandered, and Facebook wasn't even a wink in Mark Zuckerburg's prepubescent eye.  Life-long best friends and neighbors Josh and Emma have been a bit on the outs since Josh let his burgeoning feelings for Emma be known.  Emma's recently remarried dad has gifted her a computer. Josh's mom makes him bring over their AOL CD to install on her computer.  When she does, it loads to a site she's never heard of, something called Facebook, where an woman in her early thirties bears a striking resemblance to her, in addition to sharing her first name.  Even weirder, Josh has an older doppelganger with the same name too.  But every time they reload the page, things seem to change in the lives of these strange same faced and named people.  As they explore the site, Josh and Emma learn more about themselves and realize that the decisions they make change the lives of the people they will become.  This fun book may be best suited to older YA's, and especially towards twenty to thirty somethings who will nostalgically remember well the days when it took forever to log in to AOL...  

I'm calling it like I see it:  teens will totally not appreciate this book in the way it ought to be appreciated.  And it's only because they just can't, the poor lil'guys.   But you know who will appreciate it?  You will, twenty and thirty-somethings, even more seasoned friends. You old bags of bones!

You, you who remember well your shrieks of frustration when your mom picked up the phone and severed the connection when you were furiously AIM chatting away, totally salting your game with blueeyze69boi.  You, who still recall your ridiculous AIM handle (mine was chewi3, don't ask).  You, who remember what it was like NOT to have a cell phone, instead having to share a landline with the whole family, unless you were one lucky SOB.  Those, my friends, were the days.  I think teenagers will be curious, but will they connect?  I'm dubious.  The world 15 years ago, sans technology everywhere, sans smart phones in everyone's pocket, sans Wikipedia, sans the Twitters, sans Facebook?  It's a foreign and quaint concept.   Even scarier, this is like...historical fiction to them.  So they will probably enjoy it!  But older friends:  you will delight in this book as a walk down memory lane.  I bet you haven't thought about the log in whirring sound for AIM in YEARS.

Trust me, ladies and gentlemen, just pick the book up for the nostalgia factor when it drops in November.  It is the perfect accompaniment to your Thanksgiving dinner in your parents house.  The story is okay - fun and a wee bit chastely romantical even - I'm just hoping that there are some revisions before it goes to publication.  There may well be; I got my copy in June and the pub date is November.  There are a few loose ends and things kind of seem hasty at the end.  I'd love to see it a bit more fleshed out, much like the first half of the book.   But regardless of the weird cover (I like the simplicity of my plain blue ARC cover), take the walk down memory lane.  In a piece of meta marketing, the book even has its own Facebook page!


Sam @ Parenthetical said...

Oh wow. You're right, I will read this right away, because I am a sucker for 90s nostalgia. (My screen name was Sam[my phone number], because no one had explained yet why that was a terrible idea. I spent all my time on the X-Files AOL boards, on which the term 'shipper was invented. You're welcome.)

Sverige said...

Great audio book for a family road trip with older kids, especially if the parents and kids all use Facebook. Fun story reminiscent of the "Back to the Future" films, only the Delorean has been replaced by a mysterious computer link to the not-yet-invented Facebook (takes place in the late 1990's). This story may even inspire some profound discussions about how we affect our futures with every action.

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