Monday, February 20, 2012

The Future of Us

I loved the premise of The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. In The Future of Us, two teenagers in 1996 stumble upon their facebook pages fifteen years in the future.

Being very close to the age of the book's two main characters, it really made me think about what my 15 year old self in 1996 would have thought about my current facebook page. I think my mind would have been blown by the fact that I live in Wyoming (not sure I really even knew Wyoming was a state in 1996), but I would have been thrilled with the pictures of my dogs.

Sadly, I thought the execution of the book's plot felt short of what I'd hoped it would be. I had a hard time liking Emma. My reflections on my life-past and present were really what made this book for me. My facebook page would have told my 15 year old self that I was supposed to be in Wyoming, married to Evan, and what I was doing, but not what had gotten me here. As Emma and Josh found out, even the tiniest things in 1996 changed their grown up lives.

(One of those tiny changes that I think about that could have changed my life dramatically was when I first came to Wyoming. It was part of a college exchange program. Prior to arriving here, UW sent me a letter telling me my dorm information. After my dad and I had left to come out, another letter came with different dorm information. My mom who was still at home, told us the change so I moved into the new dorm. A couple weeks after I got there, I called my would have been roommate who was wondering what the heck happened to me. As far as she and her RA knew, I had just never shown up--they didn't know my info had been changed. I met some great friends including Evan on my floor in the dorm. I'm sure I wouldn't have met them if I hadn't lived there. What if my mom had come with us and wouldn't have been there to get the mail? What is it'd taken another couple days to show up--after I'd moved into the first dorm? How different would things look today? And really, how many of these thousands of little things got us to exactly where we are?)

Overall, I thought it was a great book for self-reflection, but the story was merely ok.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska by John Green is a young adult novel set at a boarding school in Alabama.

As a former boarding school student, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with books set in boarding school. I loved boarding school and think it was a really great thing for me so I like reading books that remind me of it. On the other hand, I get frustrated at how life in a boarding school is portrayed. Looking for Alaska was no different that other boarding school books in this aspect. While there were parts of the plot that I found realistic, there were parts that really annoyed me because of the unlikelihood they would ever happen.

Looking for Alaska definitely had some of these gimme-a-break moments, including how the main event of the novel happened, but at the same time, something similar could have happened with actual adult supervision around. (But really, where were the adults in this book?!)

I really loved Miles's desire to go to boarding school: to seek the great perhaps. I think my desire to go to boarding school and to Wyoming come out of this idea. What great adventure would I find?

I enjoyed Looking for Alaska, but it was more of a downer than I expected. For a happier Green book, I really enjoyed An Abundance of Katherines.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Taft 2012

Taft 2012 by Jason Heller is the story of William Howard Taft reappearing on the political scene for this year's presidential election. Somehow Taft had fallen asleep in 1913 on the way to Woodrow Wilson's Inauguration and then awoke in 2012.

Taft is shot by the Secret Service for walking around the White House grounds when we awoke from his 100 year sleep. Shortly after, they discover that he really is President Taft so he's given Secret Service protection and allowed to explore modern day America. He meets his great granddaughter, Rachel, who is serving in Congress as an Independent Representative from Ohio.

Taft 2012 is a pretty funny indictment of our modern political system. It's also the story of a man who has suddenly experienced life with everyone he knew gone. Taft feels grief for his long dead wife and he comes to terms with his relationship with teddy Roosevelt. This is a good election year book with an interesting premise.