“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?”

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What’s your story?

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“Every story starts somewhere.” Such simple words, but resounding with so much power and truth.

I think it’s safe to say that every booknerd out there has, at some point, drooled over the library Beast gives Belle in the Disney animated classic, Beauty & the Beast. And what are the books in the library filled with? Stories. And who wrote these vast stories? Somebody.

That’s all it really boils down to, isn’t it? That somebody got an idea and took the time to write it down. And inspiration can strike you anywhere at any moment, if only your mind is open to it. Whether it be a realistic notion or something completely out of this world, all stories start from that one little brain spark.

And I recognize that not everyone has the creativity to be a writer—we can’t all be gifted with awesome right brain activity levels—but even the simple act of journaling can give you such an amazing outlet.

One of my favorite sayings that came out of the mass hysteria that is Harry Potter is: “It all started with a book.” Even Walt Disney’s insane world has the slogan, “It all started with a mouse.” All it took was someone to take the glimmer of an idea and water it until it blew up and grew into a worldwide phenomenon.

It is success stories like J.k. Rowling, Walt Disney, Stephen King and John Green, which give me the inspiration to keep at it. Because my story matters. And so does yours.

“Twisted”—A Book Review

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Twisted is another exceptionally thought provoking read by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Tyler was your average fade-into-the-background teenager, until he gets busted for vandalizing the school grounds with graffiti. In order to pay back the debt, he spends all summer doing manual labor, which in turn grants him with a killer smokin’ bod.

Back at school with his new physique, Tyler is now attracting the kind of attention he has only ever dreamed of. Most specifically, Bethany (his long-time crush) is noticing him.

Sounds like the perfect high school year, right? 

Perhaps it could have been, but not for Tyler. His home life still sucks, with a verbally abusive father, and a mother who pretends like it isn’t happening. And also, it turns out that the school hottie, Bethany, is still the stuck-up, pretentious, bitch that she always was.

Like things always seem to do in high school, a bad rumor—involving Tyler taking suggestive photographs of Bethany—quickly spirals out of control. So not only does Tyler become the object of high school bullying, but he still continues to take verbal assault from his dad at home.

Twisted does an amazing job of getting inside a troubled teen’s head, and showing the reader that even though you can’t necessarily see it on the outside, someone could be going through hell on the inside. A perfectly painted narrative urges you to ponder your actions of taking out your frustrations on others, because no one can guess at how damaging the side effects may be.

I give this book four out of five stars.

#portkeyproblems

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So, I’m listening to the 4th Harry Potter audiobook (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and I’m at the part where they are getting ready to go to the Quidditch World Cup, gathering around the portkey.

While the portkey is being described to Harry about how it’s always some old ordinary and uninteresting looking object so that a muggle won’t come and pick it up, that’s when my Sarah brain takes over.

In my head, I keep seeing those road side crews who pick up trash along the highway coming along with their pokey stick thingys and stabbing a portkey, which thrusts them unknowingly into some crazy ass location, such as the inside of a pyramid, or a dragon’s lair.

Needless to say this image has been cracking me up all morning, so I thought I would share 🙂

“The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”

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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken was an exceptional YA read. This novel will keep your mind grasping at straws, and your eyeballs devouring the words on the page.

 A disease called IAAN has swept across America, killing children starting at the age of ten on through puberty. All of a sudden, young children are literally just dropping dead. But it’s not the dead kids the adults fear—it’s the kids who live. The kids that survive the disease have varying mind powers and, as always, grownups fear what they can’t explain. They have labeled the remaining kids as Psi and they are rounded up and shipped off to “rehabilitation camps.”

 

“Abilities. Powers that defied explanation, mental talents so freakish, doctors and scientists reclassified our entire generation as Psi. We were no longer human. Our brains broke that mold.”

 

These rehabilitation camps, however, are more like Jewish concentration camps. Kids are herded into a classifying colored group based on what ability they posses: Blue=telekinetic, Green=sorters, good at math, photographic memories, Yellow=control electricity, Red=fire, Orange=the most dangerous of all…the ability to enter and control your mind.  

Thus, our main Character Ruby was taken and placed in a camp the day after her tenth birthday. She is labeled as a Green, but she has a secret…she was wrongly sorted. The day of her tenth birthday, she did the unthinkable—she erased herself from her parents’ minds. It was an accident, and she didn’t know that she was doing it, but her parents freaked nonetheless when they woke up to a strange little girl in their house that they had no recollection of. And poor Ruby had no idea what she had done; but still, the PSF’s (Psi Special Forces) promptly came and took her away.

When Ruby manages to make the doctor at the camp sorting her believe that she is a Green, she gets placed with the other Green girls at camp. Eventually the Oranges, Yellows, and Reds disappear…they are too dangerous to have around, for not all Psi kids are good and innocent. There have been many incidents of Reds setting fires, Yellows blowing things up, and Oranges convincing the PSFs to open fire on their comrades.

 Ruby, like all of the other children of her generation hates her life, and wishes more than anything that it’s just one big nightmare—but knowing deep down that it isn’t. This is her life now. But, one day while slaving away in the fields of the “self-sufficient” camp Ruby works at, the Calm Control goes off (a sort of dog whistle white noise that only Psi kids can hear), but this time it’s painful effects are worse than usual, debilitating her completely.

With the help of an odd source, Ruby manages to escape and eventually ends up with a ragtag group of kids who have also managed to escape the confines of camp. There’s Zu, a mute eleven-year-old Yellow girl, Charles “Chubs”, a studious and very cynical Blue, and Liam, the kind-hearted leader, with the purest soul, also a Blue.

These four escapees are on a mission to find the Slip Kid, who is said to help other Psi kids get in touch with their parents (for not everyone’s parents flipped out and thought of their kids as monsters, wanting them sent far away from them). Sticking together, avoiding Skip Tracers (bounty-hunters, basically) and PSFs who will do anything to capture all kids and throw them into a camp, this team forms a special bond, slowly learning how to live again. And more importantly, to believe that living is actually worth the effort. That they are worth it.

 

“It doesn’t make you a bad person, you know—to want to live your own life.”

“My mom said once that education was a privilege not afforded to everyone, but she was wrong—it wasn’t a privilege. It was our right. We had the right to a future.”

“Maybe nothing will ever change for us,” he said. “But don’t you want to be around just in case it does?”

 

This tumultuous adventure will have you digging into your soul and questioning the basic rights of a human being—no matter how young or small—and analyzing the irrational behaviors fear can induce. What it must be like to be a young child and have your own parents, the people who are supposed to be there for you no matter what, look at you like you are some kind of monstrous creature. And even worse, to have to face the own darkening thoughts in your own head as a cast aside of not knowing how to control your powers: “They weren’t afraid of themselves; they weren’t crippled by the weight of what they didn’t know.”

This harrowing story receives five out of five stars from me! The sequel, The Never Fade is set to be released in late October, and I cannot wait!