Friday, October 28, 2011

Read This, Watch That: Facebook Edition

A conference kept me from having time to promptly devour this new book, luckily Katie was there to snap it up and get you the review!

Read This:
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Release Date: November 21

I’ve been mulling over this review for a few days, struggling with how to sell you on the premise (read: 2 kids in 1996 gain access to their future selves’ Facebook accounts), because maybe even more than vampires and werewolves and mermaids, I find the idea of “knowing the future” sort of a stretch, maybe even a little gimmicky at times. Which is exactly why you should read this book, because not only did it overcome my skepticism, it completely annihilated it and left me laughing frequently, pondering the issue of “destiny”, and tearing through the chapters anxious to discover what would happen next.

Emma and Josh have been neighbors and therefore best friends for just about forever. Or at least since the 1980s. Now it is 1996, they are in high school, and things between them are a little weird. But you can’t ignore your neighbor, especially when said neighbor (Emma) just got a new computer and your Mom is sending you over to give her a disk with 100 free AOL hours to access the Internet (Josh). And for reasons that are never explained (probably because it is unexplainable), the AOL disk also comes loaded with Facebook--a website that wouldn’t be invented for several more years--as one of the “Favorites”. Suddenly, Josh and Emma have access to information about their lives 15 years in the future. And it’s hard not to let the future interfere with the present. But if you know the future, is it possible to change it through the present? And if the future is malleable, should we let it dictate our decisions here and now?

Authors Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why) and Carolyn Mackler (The Earth, My Butt, And Other Round Things) are sort of a writing dream team. I honestly couldn’t tell where one author’s voice ended and the other’s began. The voices--alternating between Josh and Emma’s points of view--flow together seamlessly and authentically. Emma and Josh are tackling some major questions about life and destiny, but they are also just two very normal teenagers trying to cope with high school, family, and relationships. It’s the melding of both the Big Themes with normal high school life that make The Future of Us a book about Facebook that is worth putting aside the computer and any skepticism for a few hours and losing yourself in a compelling story. It might even give you something to think about the next time you go to post a status message.

From Wikipedia under their creative
commons license

Watch This:
The Social Network (PG-13)

And while we’re on the topic of Facebook, we may as well revisit the story of the college student who made it all happen. The Social Network is the story of Mark Zuckerberg, beginning in 2003 when he was a Harvard undergrad student. And while we all know his future (he is the youngest billionaire in history, after all)--it turns out that, as with Josh and Emma, Facebook has been the source of more than a few personal (and legal) issues for him as well. This movie is loaded with snappy dialogue (thank you, Aaron Sorkin) and offers an interesting look at both the beginning days of social networking as well as the pitfalls of success.

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