Two things about hopes and dreams in The Future of Us: Everybody has different dreams, and dreams change. Josh and Emma are in prime dreaming territory: High school is a time of exploration and figuring out who you are, and since a lot of their life hasn't happened yet, there are so many different paths for them each to consider.
But when Josh thinks his life pans out as a dream come true, and Emma decides to try to tweak her future to satisfy her current dreams, well, things get messy in the present—until they realize that the best way to make their dreams come true is to invest in making sure their lives are meaningful right now.
This book argues that dreams don't matter—it's all about building the here and now.
This book argues that dreams do matter—it's just that the only way to attain them is to focus on the present.
In The Future of Us, Emma and Josh experience all sorts of chains and shackles, metaphorically speaking. High school is the culprit: Cool kids rule and everyone else drools, parents monitor their every move, and once they find out what their lives are doing to be like in the future, well, everything just feels that much more high stakes. Here's the thing, though: Despite all of this, Emma and Josh are totally in charge of their lives. So while they feel trapped by the future at points, ultimately they realize that they're the ones running the show. Yay.
In this book, we're only as trapped as we let ourselves be.
We're all trapped by the future—whether we pay attention to this, though, is up to us.
Communication is the name of the game in The Future of Us. Whether we're watching Emma and Josh awkwardly interact as they struggle to get their footing after stumbling over romantic feelings, witnessing Emma's status update spews in the future, or joining Emma's mom's crusade to get her to pick up the phone and call her dad already, communication—and miscommunication and failure to communicate—abounds in this book. But so it goes in the teen years, right? With or without Facebook in the mix.
In The Future of Us, Emma and Josh both have to learn how to interact with each other as well as other people who are important to them.
Social media is presented as the least effective form of communication in The Future of Us.
Ever heard the expression fake it 'til you make it? In The Future of Us, Josh and Emma are teenagers, which means they're both in a stage of life where this is pretty much the go-to mantra when it comes to identity. Since they haven't left their parents' houses yet, they have a lot left to learn about themselves. As it stands, though, a big part of the book is watching them each learn bits and pieces about themselves, often realizing that what they think they want isn't always what they actually want.
The way the story ends is a nice way to acknowledge this: Romantically, what they both want has been by their sides the entire time. But hey, no one ever said growing up was easy.
Emma's and Josh's identities don't change, they both just become more in tune with who they are.
Emma and Josh each change over the course of the story so that, by the end, they each occupy different identities from the ones they start out with.
The Future of Us is a story about time travel—so naturally time's kind of a big deal. But this book isn't just concerned with the future. Emma and Josh spend a lot of time thinking about the past, back before things got weird between them, and they both ultimately discover that in focusing on the future, they're getting way ahead of themselves. The only reason the future exists is because of the present, after all, so while this book visits the future over and over again, ultimately the time that matters most is the here and now.
Before they discover Facebook, neither Josh nor Emma really thinks about their futures at all.
The story starts in the middle: after Josh and Emma's fall-out, but before they discover the future. This makes sure the present takes center stage.
Love is in the air and on the Internet in The Future of Us, but to mixed success. Kellan and Tyson can't seem to figure out what they want from each other; Josh and Emma are struggling to regain their friendship after Josh's romantic revelation before the book opens; and Emma cannot seem to leave her future alone based on her dislike of the husbands Facebook shows await her. And that's really just to name a few of the ways love is woven into this story. While we see love in all sorts of forms, both good and bad, one thing is always true: It ain't easy… until, of course, it is.
This book doesn't believe in true love—that's why Emma has so many different future husbands.
This book totally believes in true love—it's been Josh all along for Emma, she's just been too scared to realize it.
Technology is a huge deal in The Future of Us, and not just because Facebook pops up in a decade it has no business being in. This story is full of heirlooms from the 1990s, like pagers, color monitors, and the magical sounds of AOL. And here's the thing about the 90s: Technology was creating a new world then, a.k.a. the world we live in now. The Internet was just beginning its rise to world domination, so by taking a few steps back in time, our authors help us really appreciate how quickly—and how much—the world has changed since then.
More than anything, technology in The Future of Us is a commentary on communication.
The Future of Us doesn't argue against technology so much as it argues for moderation with technology.
Emma and Josh are in high school, which is kind of a mini-society insofar as each person fits into a role and plays a different part. And because everyone is trying to figure out who they are, there are lots of different stereotypes in high school: the band kids, the jocks, the popular kids, and so forth (for more on this, be sure to check out the "Character Clues" section). But while this theme definitely overlaps a bit with identity in The Future of Us, here we're focused on social categories and how they can be limiting. Nobody completely fits into a mold, after all.
Josh and Emma are able to be best friends because they knew each other as neighbors before becoming schoolmates, and as such, social groups don't influence their friendship.
Every character in this book fails to completely fit the social mold they're cast in.