“The Future of Us”—A Book Review

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The Future of Us written by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler was kind of a letdown for me.

I won’t say it was horrible, because it wasn’t. It was really well written and smart, but all-in-all I just felt kind of “meh” about it.

The setting is the year 1996, when the internet is just becoming prominent and not many people have their own computer in their home. Emma received a computer from her dad for her birthday (sort of a guilt gift since they don’t see each other often since the divorce) and she uses her neighbor Josh’s AOL CD to create an email address. Then a mysterious website pops up on her computer prompting her to enter her email address and password.

The website is facebook, which wasn’t founded until the year 2004. On facebook, Emma sees the profile and constant status updates of her future self. She gets excited and wigged out by this all at the same time and soon calls Josh over for examination. The two quickly become obsessed with their future selves’ profiles and constant status updates and changes.

The thing is, Josh future is pretty ideal and awesome. Emma’s, not so much.

The duo soon discover that they can change their future statuses by making minute and resolute decisions in their current lives. Emma keeps doing things or making mental decisions NOT to do something so that her future status will change. Josh gets kind of annoyed at this, because he doesn’t want the decisions that Emma is making to affect his seemingly perfect future. This goes back and forth in switching narrations from Josh and Emma’s points of view for the entire novel.

It was weird (and kind of surreal) to hear all of the 90’s references in the books about things that children of the 90’s grew up with (like walkmans, for example). But truthfully, I think the references are way lost on today’s generation of young adults. The people most likely to pick up and read this book are teenagers—since this is a teen book—and they were mostly raised in the 21st century, which is rapidly becoming overcome with the latest technological advances.

Like I said, the book wasn’t complete crap, but it just didn’t “wow” me. I guess my standards were set pretty high for Jay Asher after reading his debut novel, 13 Reasons Why. I give this book 3 out of five stars, mostly just for the fact that it was well written.

 

I did find this to be a very amusing quote, because it helps to paint the picture of how diluted and relevant personal connections have become.

“Why does it say she has three hundred and twenty friends?” Josh asks. “Who has that many friends?”

“By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead”—A Book Rant

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By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters just didn’t quite hit the mark. I feel like it could have been a meaningful and deep story, but the main character was too damn annoying for me to feel sorry for her.

Daelyn has been bullied at her old school and tried to take her life by drinking bleach. It didn’t work. Her parents found her and rushed her to the hospital. Now she can’t speak because her throat is still in recovery and she is starting at a new Catholic school.

When she starts this new school, Daelyn decides that she will not make any friends. She will not look at or talk to anyone…because what’s the point in trying to make friends when she plans to kill herself—and actually succeed this time.

Daelyn stumbles upon a website that starts a countdown timer for 23 days. During this time period, it essentially guides her through the steps of purging her life of nonessential things and cleansing everything so that she will be ready to end her life when the timer runs out. Every day she logs into this site and blogs about her life, and reads other blogs about people who are getting ready to commit suicide as well. It gets pretty heavy, as some bloggers talk about being raped and abused.

Then there is this kid who starts sitting with Daelyn every afternoon at the bench outside of her school, where she waits for her mother to pick her up. His name is Santana, and he absolutely will not give up, refusing to leave her alone like she asks. He even ends up getting her to relent and come over to his house one afternoon.

Daelyn resists Santana as much as she can, because it’s too late to let people into her life, right? Throughout the entire book, even as she starts directly interacting with Santana, she still logs onto the suicide site everyday and continues with her preparations to kill herself.

I’m sorry; I just could not get into this book. In my opinion it was entirely ineffective. The main character actually has parents who are trying to be there for her and she is completely stubborn and won’t let them help her. And she likes this Santana kid, but is too f*cking obsessed with her suicidal plans to let him be the friend he wants to be. So she has all of these people (who are not the people from her other school who bullied her) trying to befriend her and help her, but she is too stuck her own pathetic head and feeling sorry for herself to even try to put forth any effort at life. Thus, in my opinion the main character was just whiny and lazy, and by the end of the book, I just kept thinking to myself, “Oh my God, just do it already so I can stop reading about it.”

I feel that books such as Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Hold Still by Nina LaCour were much more affective in their delivery on the issue of teen bullying and suicide.

I give this book two out of five stars.