The Future of Us by Jay Asher

Did you ever read that Ray Bradbury short story, A Sound of Thunder? It was assigned reading for my 10th or 11th grade English class, and has always stuck with me. The basic premise is that, in a world set in the near future, a time machine allows people to take guided tours of the past. A hunter on a safari to track and kill a Tyrannosaurus Rex accidentally falls from the levitating path that he has been told to stick to, crushing a butterfly beneath his boot. This one small change in the past snowballs, and when the hunter returns to his own time subtle changes can be seen everywhere.

Jay Asher’s young adult novel The Future of Us is like a more modern-day version of Bradbury’s 1952 story. Fast-forward to 1996 when Emma receives a free AOL CD-ROM (doesn’t that sound so dated?) and tries it out on her brand new computer. Once she’s logged in, a strange blue icon appears connecting Emma to a cluttered and confusing website called Facebook where someone with her own name and hometown is posting information about herself. (As you may know, Facebook didn’t debut until 2004, some 8 years later.)

Emma and her friend Josh slowly figure out how to navigate the website, and realize that the Emma and Josh on Facebook are surely their future selves. Or perhaps just versions of them? The two high-schoolers begin to make small changes to their lives based on what they see of their futures, changes that then effect the future being reflected back at them.

While officially a young adult novel, this is an interesting read for adults as well. I zoomed through it in a couple of nights and enjoyed thinking about the possibility of time travel through the web.

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