I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs
Published by Albert Whitman Teen on April 1st 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fiction, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Young Adult
Buy on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, BAM, Publisher
Elena Martinez has hidden her eidetic memory all her life--or so she thinks. When powerful tech giant Aether Corporation selects her for a top-secret project, she can't say no. All she has to do is participate in a trip to the future to bring back data, and she'll be set for life.
Elena joins a team of four other teens with special skills, including Adam, a science prodigy with his own reason for being there. But when the time travelers arrive in the future, something goes wrong and they break the only rule they were given: do not look into their own fates.
Now they have twenty-four hours to get back to the present and find a way to stop a seemingly inevitable future from unfolding. With time running out and deadly secrets uncovered, Elena must use her eidetic memory, street smarts, and a growing trust in Adam to save her new friends and herself.
Elena, a foster kid who fell through the cracks long ago, is contacted by a giant corporation by the name of Aether Corp with a job opportunity that could change her life for the better. Instead of following in her father’s footsteps and ending up in prison, she could go to college and have a real future. All she has to do is sign a non-disclosure notice, walk through a portal that will send her ten years into the future and return with data related to some super secret research for a tidy sum of cash. Sounds easy! Except Elena and her new team mates Zoe, Chris, Adam and Trent sense there is more to the situation than the scientists are telling them. Too late Elena learns that the truth is darker and more dangerous than she ever expected.
Elena’s team is warned to not check in on themselves in the future, but when things go wrong and the team end up sent thirty years into the future they turn to their older selves for help. Their foray into the world to find their “future selves” leads to an exploration of a world that has changed in ways the team never expected. I absolutely loved Future Shock’s technology that not only plays on Google Glasses, but also develops a new economic system based on fingerprints and virtual credits. Even cars have been altered to a new form that is both exciting and believable. I felt like Briggs researched not only current technologies but their expected trajectory towards new, innovative reincarnations which the science fiction nerd in me couldn’t help purring over.
Briggs created a world that not only Elena found disorienting and familiar, but the reader has similar reactions to the descriptions of creative futuristic technologies.
Future Shock is a fantastic mix of time travel adventure, murder mystery and suspense. I especially loved that each character was extremely well developed and individualistic regardless of their role’s longevity in relation to Elena’s story. I also found myself being surprised by a few plot twists that answered some pressing questions and yet somehow created new ones. In the end, Briggs offers up satisfying answers and closure to a novel that holds many twists and turns without becoming a befuddled mess.
Personally, I loved reading a novel about a character who was believable. Often in young adult novels or literature in general, I end up becoming frustrated with characters that are from difficult backgrounds and are portrayed as weak or their motivations are not organic with their experiences. Elena is what I would describe as a wonderful example of a strong female character with a difficult background who is realistic. I cannot count the number of times that characters like this end up looking to “adults” for help or being extremely trusting after being abused and mistreated by society – an aspect of many novels that does very little to realistically portray a small segment of society adequately. I felt Briggs did this wonderfully.
I suppose keeping in line with the critique of how Briggs handled societal issues, I want to quickly point out that Briggs also created a character that will appease to the proponents of the YA Diversity movement and yet keeps away from the racial elements. Elena is a young girl who holds a Mexican heritage and a difficult background who struggles to fit into a largely white and conservative world, yet she does not judge others by the color of their skin, nor does she focus on her differences obsessively. I adored that although Briggs attempted to fit Elena into the diversity trend, she also did it skillfully without ruining the novel with racial slurs and negativity. Instead, Elena is developed as a character like any other with slight differences in her appearance, experiences and background that help to develop her as a stronger and more cultured individual rather than an obvious attempt to cash in on the diversity movement.
When I saw that I was accepted to receive an ARC copy of Future Shock I was overjoyed. I figured this novel would be amaze-balls from the summary and it turns out I was right. Future Shock is a novel that I easily devoured in one sitting and I am genuinely looking forward to the next book to this series.
This novel will appeal to readers who enjoy books about time travel, diversity YA, strong female leads with dark histories, romance that boosts the plot rather than becomes the plot and large does of a suspense. I would definitely recommend this to fans of darker literature since this novel deals with corruption and death. Future Shock is a coming of age story in a science fiction-time travel wrapper.