Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Future of Us

Reviewer: Kerin
Title: The Future of Us
Author: Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Primary Audience/Age Group: 13 and up
Genre: Young Adult
# of pages: 356
Publisher: Penguin Group
Year of Release: 2011
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 2  (View Scale)
Recommend? No

Description: Josh and Emma are best friends. Well, at least they were until six months ago when things started getting awkward. But when Emma gets her first computer, a gift from her father, and Josh gives her an AOL CD-ROM, things change quickly.
Once Emma logs onto the internet, she's taken to a site called Facebook. The problem? The year is 1996, and Facebook hasn't been invented yet. Josh and Emma get to glimpse into their future by reading their profiles that were written fifteen years into the future. But things haven't turned out for them as they had hoped or even planned.
And, as they are soon to discover, everything in the present affects their future. What they do and say, now that they are allowed a window to the future, causes their profiles to change with every refresh of the page. But before Josh and Emma can worry about their futures, they'll need to understand how to handle their present first.
Review: When I heard about this book, I was so excited to read it. The story and the plot sounded really interesting and different. And it is. But that's about all the good I can say.
The idea and plot in itself is good, but I had such a hard time enjoying the story with all the swearing, sexual content, and the way the characters acted. It just drove me crazy.
And when I heard about 'two friends discovering Facebook in 1996', I was intrigued at the idea of reading about them discovering their future and seeing the future through past eyes. (Considering I'm a 90s' kid, I have to admit I was excited to read all the 90s' references and also to finally read a book about teenagers that didn't always have an i-Phone, i-Pod, or laptop.)But what little time the characters actually spend reading about Facebook or dealing with it wouldn't cover a fourth of the book, which I could handle. But, it seemed that most of the book was about Emma dealing with boys and trying to figure out who she was married too and how to manipulate the future to work out the way she wanted. The concept was really good, but I'm afraid the story was just a huge letdown.
Rating: I give this book a very firm 2. The language was horrible, and the sexual content of the story went way beyond what I ever expected. There's a line between what's appropriate and not, and this book crossed that line.
Positive: Though I like the plot/story-line of this book, it is really hard to find anything positive to say. Friendship is one value that was stressed in this book though there are some moments those friendships are taken for granted and used. But on the plus side, the characters often realize they are out of line and apologize.
The characters realize their mistakes on several other issues as well at different points in the story and attempt to make up for some of them.
The only other thing I can think of is the moral (what little there is) of the story - and that is that we shouldn't worry ourselves with things in our future. It hasn't happened yet, and we need to enjoy the present and the friends and things we have now because you don't know how things will change. Also, that the things we do and say now will affect our future.
Spiritual Elements: None.
Violence: There really isn't any violence.
Language: The language was horrible; I've never seen the need for cussing. I can tolerate it most times, but the terms were very over-used. There didn't need to be that much swearing to make the story, it was very unnecessary.
Words used: A**, s***, h***, d***, da****. And if I remember right, b**** was used as well. Also, one word that I'm not quite sure is a cuss word but certainly was not nice and needs to be mentioned is sk****.
Sexual Content: Something else that was very overused and completely unnecessary to make this story. Kissing is frequent and talking about sex it seems is casual conversation. In one scene Emma's boyfriend (whom she doesn't even like anymore) keeps trying to stick his hand up her shirt and after a while she lets him (getting 'felt up' as they described it.) In another scene she gives another boy (whom she has a crush on) a neck massage and in turn he offers to do the same, but it's obvious he wants more than that when he starts kissing her neck and shoulders.

One character is in his room in his underwear when Emma walks in, and she makes a comment about his underwear. Boys openly discuss girl's (I will use kinder and more appropriate words) butts and chests and their anatomy. It's commented on about how easy some of the girls are. And likewise, though not as often, the girl's will talk about the boy's anatomy.

Josh's older brother is discovered through a Facebook photo to be in a relationship with a man. Some of the other characters have dated frequently and have been in several relationships that you couldn't even define really as relationships.  A very minor character at one point walks around in the boy’s locker room in the nude. Emma discovers through Facebook one of her friends will end up being a teen mom and, in an attempt to change her future, gives her a condom.

Other: Aside from the language and sexual content, I thought the main characters were pretty bad role models. Actually, scratch that, they weren't even up for the debate of being role models. Emma is so concerned with making sure HER future is happy and she marries the right guy that she pretty much blows it off when she messes up Josh's happy future. And though maybe not intentionally, in the beginning to the middle of the book, she toys with his feelings for her. Then, she gets upset when she has feelings for him and he's dating someone else.
Josh I could tolerate slightly better. He at least tried to do the right thing most of the time though his attitude towards his parents (and Emma's attitude towards her parents for that matter) was pretty mean and unnecessary.
Also, underage drinking and smoking is mentioned several times; and a couple of times the characters made a rude hand gesture.
Recommendation: I would not recommend this book at all, and most especially not for 13 year-olds!
I realize there are teens who would have no problem with the issues in this book, but I for one was pretty appalled. I'm 18, and I felt myself blushing several times during some of the sexual scenes; and while I've heard worse language, that was certainly not something I wanted to read either.
My recommendation? Don't read it. It's just not worth it.

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