Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Future of Us (review)

3/5 stars

For me this book is just okay.  It had a really interesting concept.  A high school girl in 1996 sets up her computer then sets up AOL.  For reasons (unexplained still at the end of the novel) she finds Facebook already in her favorites.  When she logs on she finds the her own profile 15 years in the future.

She looks at her future on Facebook and bemoans that she's not happy.  So she tries to change her future.  And it works!  Her new future seems better than her first future, but she's still not satisfied and tries to change it again.  For me this was frustrating to read.  Emma did not seem to understand that maybe the problem wasn't the men that she eventually married, but the problem was her.

I could already tell what kind of facebooker Future Emma was.  I'm sure you've all met this type before.  The "My Life is So Bad Please Pity Me," facebooker.  Unfortunately, I know a lot of these people.  Sometimes I've even asked Facebook to only show me their "important updates" because the whining gets out of control.  They're almost as bad as the overly religious Facebook posts that are my personal pet peeve (this week I'm downright angry over one that said "Share if you love God. If you Love the Devil Keep Scrolling).

My main issue with this novel is Emma.  I just didn't like her.  She is a believable 16-year-old, but that's not always a good thing.  She is so selfish throughout this book.  She doesn't care who her decisions effect.  With Emma it's all about her happiness.  For me she crossed the line when she tried to change Kellen's future without her consent (even though Kellen looked happy in the future).

1996 Emma is discontent and whiney.  Her life isn't perfect but nobody's is.  By the end of the book I'm not even sure that she understands that the problem isn't the men in her life, the problem is her perspective on life.  There's a glimmer of hope, but she still seems to base her future potential happiness on the boys in her life.

The book ends with future Emma deleting her facebook account.  Emma philosophizes that maybe future Emma is somehow tuned into what past Emma is feeling.  Say what?  Shouldn't Future Emma remember Present Emma?  That seemed to be a huge logic fail.  If the ripples of Present Emma's choices effect her future, then how could her future self not remember discovering Facebook in 1996?  And if Future Emma didn't remember then how did Present Emma have such an impact on her life?

Time travel is always tricky.  This book doesn't attempt to go into the science behind it (thank goodness) and completely ignores most of the conundrums it presents.  If you're going to write a book about seeing the future these details need to be included.  Ignoring them feels lazy.

The book is a thoughtful look at how even the smallest choices impact the future.  It just needed a more likable main character and more thought put into the implications of time travel.

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