The Future of Us takes place in 1996, when neighbours and former best friends Josh and Emma discover Facebook on the computer. The only thing is... Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And the profile pages they're logged onto are their own, fifteen years in the future. As Josh and Emma see their actions ripple across their future, reflected in their profile pages, they're forced to come to terms with their present, and their relationship.
This was a really charming story with a unique spin on time travel that was never really explained. The scientist in me really wanted to know why Emma and Josh had access to this page. Despite not knowing the why or the how of the events, the repercussions of having access to a future self's profile page were actually quite interesting and examined well. I appreciated that not every change in the present had a direct correlation to a future self, sometimes things– like the future children they'd have– were just altered by moments too tiny to quantify.
What made The Future of Us so charming to me was its nostalgia. I was only a kid in 1996, but I still have some memories from that era. I remember using dial-up internet, and when cell phones were something special and people still made mix-tapes. So it was a lot of fun reading about a time when that was the norm. I'm uncertain if it would have the same charm to a younger reader though, somebody without any memories of that time. In that way, it's more like historical fiction, but just a little weird because it's not that historical, and even calling it that makes me feel old!
The only thing The Future of Us really lacked was the kind of suspense and tension that characterized Thirteen Reasons Why, and I was therefore pretty surprised to realize that the story just didn't have the intensity I hoped for. With really exciting stories I'll pick up an audiobook and end up finishing with a hard copy when I find they are taking too long, but I didn't have that problem with this one and managed to listen to the whole thing. I think because the only way the reader really saw the repercussions of the characters' actions were through their profile page, they didn't have the same immediacy to them they usually would. I also thought that some of the secondary characters, like Josh's brother and Josh and Emma's mutual friends, were a little flat.
I enjoyed both the male and female perspectives, or Asher and Mackler's writing, in The Future of Us. I felt like both characters were authentic and dimensional, and I liked how Emma was the one afraid of commitment and Josh was the romantic instead of the stereotypical reverse. The audiobook narrators were also really good. Ultimately, The Future of Us was a fun and endearing book, filled with nostalgia and cute moments that charmed me but just lacking enough excitement and depth to make it really memorable.