Thousands of years in the future the divide between humanity and technology has become nearly unrecognizable. Each thought, each action is logged, coded, backed up. Data is as easily exchanged through the fiber-optic-like cables that extend from fingertips as it might be through ordinary conversation. It's a brave new world: A world that the Straker Tapes say is a result of many human "upgrades." But no one is sure whether the Straker Tapes are a work of fiction or an eerie peek into an unimaginable past.
Nearly sixteen-year-old Peter Vincent has been raised to believe that everything that the backward Strakerites cling to is insane--an utter waste of time and potential. Since his father is David Vincent, genius inventor of the artificial bees that saved the world's crops and prevented massive famine, how could Peter believe anything else?
But when Peter meets Alpha, a Strakerite his own age, suddenly the theories about society-upgrades don't sound quite so crazy, especially when she shows him evidence that another upgrade is imminent. And worse, there may be a conspiracy by the leaders of the establishment to cover it up. A conspiracy spearheaded by Peter's own father.
Gripping and full of unexpected twists, The Future We Left Behind takes the unsettling questions raised in Human.4, and flips them entirely. What if we knew that the very way we live was about to be changed in an instant, and we could stop it? And what if everything we are sure we know is entirely wrong?
Warning: While I did my best to not give away any spoilers, you might want to avoid reading this book if you haven't read Human.4 (which was a good book, so really should read it).
Imagine that you are a kid living at home (unless you are a kid living at home, in which case just go with it) and your parents tell you to get in the car because they have somewhere special to take you. The last time your parents sprang a surprise trip on you, you ended up at the amusement park so you're really excited. You get in the car and your father (let's assume he's at the wheel) starts driving.
He drives and drives and you notice that you have passed-by the turnoff to the amusement park, so apparently that's not where you're headed. You have your face pressed eagerly to the car window watching as the movie theatre, the ice cream parlour and the arcade all flash by as well. Then you notice the envelopes peeking out of your father's pocket and you get the sneaking suspicion that you've been tricked into a trip to the post office. Even after you recognize the route, which confirms your suspicion, you still can't let go of the hope that maybe your father will suddenly turn off the road and bring you somewhere fun and exciting after all, but no- it's the post office that he is headed to, just as you feared. There, he mails his letters, after which he gets back in the car and drives you home, where you sulkily skip dinner in protest and go to bed.
That's pretty much what reading The Future We Left Behind was like for me.
Human 0.4 was one of my favorite YA reads of last year. I had no idea what to expect when I went in to the book and was delightfully surprised at what I encountered there. So I had some pretty big expectations for The Future We Left Behind, which, as you have probably guessed, were not met.
Unfortunately the author seemed to assume that what worked for book 1 would work for book 2, even with all of the surprises having already been sprung. But this was not the case. What I liked about Human .4 was that I had no idea what was going on and was completely bowled over when all was revealed but replaying all of that in a future timeline, just with different, and more informed protagonists, didn't excite me.
As I continued reading I kept hoping that perhaps the story would focus on some of the interesting details that I had glimpsed as we sped by. For example, at one point Peter realizes that there are people living among them from previous versions of humankind who no one can see, except when photographed. Now I had expected this revelation to turn into something, and I'd been really excited about that. Who exactly are these people? How do they live? How long have they been around? Can Peter find a way to communicate with them? But- no. The story did not follow that tantalizing trail and instead kept stubbornly plowing forward.
I still didn't give up hope that the ending would make up for the rest of the book by throwing in something truly unexpected, but the only thing that surprised me was how disappointing it all turned out to be.
Even the big struggle between Peter and his father fell completely flat. They get into a violent altercation about something that really didn't matter in the least, considering how the story ended. I didn't even see any reason for Peter's beliefs or actions to have been the right ones, as opposed to his “evil” father's, though I assume that was the idea.
And that was another thing that irritated me. The kids in the book are all clever, smart and sensitive while the adults are all evil, bumbling idiots with no compunctions about mowing down children (including their own) who get in the way of their nefarious plans. It was like watching an episode of one of those teen shows on the Disney Channel. It was all just too over the top to be believable in any way.
The book ended in the way that I expected it to, based on what took place so far, and left me with no interest in continuing on to book 3.