Yesterday, I finished a contemporary book called The Futures by Anna Pitoniak and it was great! This would have been what I read for Read A Hyped Book for the booktubathon, as I've heard a few Booktubers hype it up.
It's now available to buy/download too. I read the arc from NetGalley so thanks to them for giving me access.
It's told in duel POV format, where we see how the main events of the book affect both our main characters, Evan and Julia. The perspectives were quite easy to tell apart as each chapter is titled with the name of the character it's coming from. Also it switched every chapter as well as the personalities differing throughout. I normally don't like it when a female author writes a male POV or vice versa because I don't think they know what men feel, just as I don't think men know what women feel. I, however thought that Pitoniak did a good job in this case as the story deals more with emotion than sex, I guess. The Futures tells the story of Evan and Julia and their lives and how they choose to build their futures. We see them have successes as well as failures, just as everybody does in real life. That's what made this contemporary so realistic for me.
I read it for part of The Summer Of Abundance Reading Challenge on Facebook - Summer is a time for friends. Read a book with a strong friendship. There's a strong female friendship in The Futures between Julia, one of our main characters and Abby.
"Abby, my best friend, who only saw the good in me, who believed I was innocent"
shows that Julia, who is struggling with life at this point in the book has her best friend's support through anything. That's why I read The Futures for this challenge.
As well as that female friendship, our main male character of Evan has a male friendship with Arthur, a guy the same age as him that he met at college. "I especially missed Arthur" is what Evan thinks when he's at one of his lowest points when he's struggling in New York in The Futures.
Anyway, onto the main plot of the book. Julia and Evan have known each other since they were in high school, together. They dated during that period and move in with each other, after. They move to New York, where Evan, who's Canadian has a job, after he realises he loves Julia more than hockey and that he probably won't be able to become a famous American hockey player, like he always dreamed. What goes on from this point is drama in relationships and drama in the business world, much like a soap opera/Apprentice actually. I would say that this shouldn't be read by anyone younger than 17 as they probably wouldn't understand what's going on as well as the backstabbing that takes place.
Spoilers below: There are A LOT of quotes below. I didn't want to include so many but they all have a meaning to the novel so they're there...
"It didn't matter anymore, because that wasn't what I wanted. I was done with hockey. What I wanted was a life with Julia."
Evan takes the role of a hedge fund worker at Spire, a business and gets into some issues there.
"I accepted the spot. I'd be the only person from Yale working at Spire that year. I was certain the old, small town Evan Peck was gone, once and for all."
This shows Evan getting all high and mighty, thinking he's the best and that no one is as good as he is. He's overconfident in his abilities before he's even started. I think some people are like that before they start work so the author did a good job at capturing that.
"Finance was a well-trod path for other guys from the hockey team. I could do that, I thought."
Just because "other guys" have made a successful carreer out of finance, doesn't necessarily mean it's for everyone, the author gets across in this novel, too.
Later in the book we see Evan walking down a coridor and spotting Michael, his boss. "Truthfully, I wasn't even sure he recognised me". This shows that Michael doesn't care about his employees. He's only out for what he can get himself.
"What was I going to do? Tell Michael his confidence was misplaced? That I wasn't as capable as he thought I was? And risk getting kicked off the deal entirely"
This is maybe the most pivotal point in the novel. It's the most important decision Evan has to make. Whether to tell Michael he couldn't do the underhanded job or to carry on and do it, no matter the trouble it would lead to afterwards. You'll have to read The Futures to find out just what the situation is and whether or not Evan stays a part of it or not.
As well as Evan's trying to succeed in business storyline, we follow Julia's as well. Julia wants an easy life, basically. She doesn't want to become tied down to anyone or anything. She wants to live freely, in New York. Evan's job is very busy. He hardly gets time to spend with others, Julia included. She doesn't want this. Evan is very career orientated. Julia is not. Julia does get a job but it's not what she truly wants to do.
"I had no passion, no plan, nothing that made me stand out from the crowd. I had absolutely no idea what sort of job I was supposed to get" demonstrates that Julia is the opposite of Evan. She's not driven by career prospects. "He had big plans for the future" further demonstrates just how different our main characters are, here.
"I was dizzy with relief. Someone was willing to pay me for my time. No matter how paltry the money, no matter how humble the work might be—this was what I needed. Balance had been restored between me and everyone I knew"
shows all that Julia is concerned with is acquiring a job. It doesn't matter what the pay is, or if she likes it. She just wants to be like her friends and her acquaintances. "But I liked walking into the office and feeling like I belonged". Julia also likes the feeling of belonging. She's not as willing to put herself out there as Evan is. She's not a risk taker.
As well as the work aspect, The Futures follows Evan and Julia's relationship through their highs and their lows together. There are some dodgy characters, only out for themselves and what they can get. Julia is blindsided by Adam, who only wants to further his career as a reporter. "Adam could always make me feel like I belonged" is what Julia thinks when they see each other in New York. This is where the difference between Evan and Adam really starts, along with the rivalry between them, for Julia, amongst other things. Belonging is brought up again there. The Futures is really a story of belonging, I think.
"It thrilled me, the knowledge that Adam—Adam McCard, the most dazzling man I'd ever met—was thing about me all the time" is what Julia thinks Adam is thinking about. She thinks he's obsessed with her, but she later learns this is not the case.
"Julia had been mentioning Adam's name a lot in the previous weeks. I'd decided, a while earlier, that I hated him" shows that Evan can see Adam for what he truly is, someone who doesn't care about who he hurts as long as he gets what he wants. This theme continues throughout the novel with Julia and Adam.
"I'd been unfairly terse with Evan all night. We both knew what he was signing up for when he took the job at Spire" is what Julia feels quite early on in The Futures, when Evan first gets his position at Spire. She realises that she's being unfair on him but doesn't know how to let herself just be around him.
"I was the only one who struggled to adjust to this new side of him" further demonstrates this.
"It annoyed me a little that she couldn't bother to stay awake. Her job ended many hours before mine did. This was the first time we'd really seen each other since the weekend before"
This shows how Evan has changed from being a kind, caring person into a person who cares more about getting what he wants. He wants Julia to stay up for him, even though he works long hours and she's got to be up early for her job. That doesn't matter to him. This annoyed me slightly, although I think it's meant to.
"But in New York, in the real world, every annoyance and disagreement felt like a referendum of our relationship. The bitterness started to linger. I was seeing growing evidence of why this was never going to work. A sickening suspicion that, Evan and I were, in fact all wrong for each other"
Julia has started to see that her and Evan just aren't working, anymore. I personally think that Julia is acting a little spoiled here, to be honest. I think she thinks that she's too good for anyone else.
"Our relationship didn't feel so fated or satisfying anymore. It felt restless, in search of something new"
shows that Julia is feeling insecure about her relationship with Evan. She doesn't know what's wrong with it at this moment in time, just that it feels different. Would she be better off with Adam? You'll have to read The Futures to find out.
"I liked Adam. I liked spending time with Adam, but I wasn't ready for him to see an unedited version of my thoughts".
This is what Julia thinks about Adam. Is she right to have her reservations about telling him what she thinks? You'll have to read this book to find out.
"There was no question about it. Adam would succeed at whatever he chose to do" is what Julia thinks. It's Evan, she's hesitant about. She knows he makes mistakes because she's grown up with him. She's seen him everyday in New York. She knows that Adam will succeed because he has the willpower to do whatever it takes to succeed, even if it means hurting someone, even herself, to get there.
Evan even goes so far as to be jealous of Adam.
"Julia had been mentioning Adam's name a lot in the previous weeks. I'd decided, a while earlier, that I hated him"
Proves that Evan didn't like hearing Adam's name mentioned all of the time.
"I found myself daydreaming about Maria" While Julia has been feeling things about Adam though, so too has Evan been having feelings for a coworker Maria. Both Evan and Maria flirt at a bar.
"Even then, even with everything Evan gave me what I hadn't yet learned to provide for myself"
This shows that Evan has been giving everything to Julia. She doesn't feel she's learnt to provide for herself yet. This might be a part of the reason why they break up so Julia can be by herself for a little bit and learn to take care of herself, instead of relying on anyone else, Adam included.
"Evan don't worry, you're asking why I invited you, aren't you? Just watch an listen and you'll see. You could learn a lot over the next few days"
This is Michael, Evan's boss' way to screw with his head a little. Michael is the real villain of The Futures, I think as he's the one is control of Evan's employment and that's what ultimately lets him down. If his job had been fine, I don't believe that he and Julia would have had all of issues that they did.
"It skipped across my mind that he had probably brought other women here before, but I didn't care. It was my turn"
is how Julia feels about Adam. It's almost as if she's treating him as a one night stand type of guy, and that she wants to be the dominant one in their relationship. Does it turn out that way though? You'll have to read The Futures to find out.
"It stung too, realizing that Adam could have said the same thing about me. The job I had, at a foundation ran by family friends—nothing I had got on my own."
Julia is doubting herself in the above quote. She's just been told that Adam had treated someone badly because of how they got their job. Julia didn't get hers because of her abilities, she got because of her parents' positions. This makes her doubt herself and doubt whether she should be in a relationship with Adam at all.
"I could never marry Evan. Never, ever. Evan wasn't someone I could have a life with. We were too different, and he didn't care about me. That's why it felt so natural, sliding into this new thing with Adam. Evan and I were clearly headed for a breakup. It was a question of time."
This is when Julia and Adam are through with arguing about everything wrong in their lives and blaming each other for it. Julia knows they're going to break up. The only question is when. This happens in most contemporary reads at one point, I find. As this is a standalone it would have to happen somewhere in this novel. It happens towards the end of The Futures. We see an awful lot of arguing, maybe too much, even.
"Evan wasn't any happier in this relationship than I was. If I waited, he might just do it himself."
Because Julia doesn't want to seem like the bad girl, she doesn't want to end the relationship herself. She wants to wait for Evan to do it. This is a little underhanded, I think. If I was Julia, I would have just ended the relationship, myself. I think it's because she wants a way to get back with Evan if everything goes badly in her next relationship. If she'd have broken it off herself, Evan might not have had her back.
"But even in this crowd I could accept that Adam was exceptional. People were drawn to where he stood like filings to a magnet. He was as charming and commanding as he'd been in college. In this apartment, in this room full of people Adam was the brightest star in the universe."
Yet, another description telling us how Adam is the best looking guy, ever that Julia has come across. It's obvious, I think that the author is painting Adam as the perfect guy in the way he looks. But the way he acts lets him down. He reports what's happened to Evan to the papers and gets on Julia's nerves for it.
"From the moment Adam came back into my life, I grew restless and unhappy. I yearned for something new. I thought he was the answer. I never stopped to think that Adam was the source of my unhappiness. I thought my life was the illness and Adam was the cure. But the more time we spent together, the deeper my dissatisfaction grew."
This is where we truly learn that Adam and Julia aren't working, that they have problems just like Julia and Adam did. No relationship is perfect, I think the author is trying to get across here. Everyone experiences issues. It's how we get over these issues that matters.
"Together, they looked like a version of home. Elizabeth had found the tiny nook that was shaped just for her. She possessed a sense of belonging that seemed so rare to me in this city. But I'd encountered it before; a path I'd been too foolish to pursue."
Elizabeth, Julia's sister is the person, along with her best friend, Abby that makes Julia realise what a mistake it was leaving Evan. Seeing her do something she loves makes Julia see that she'd be stupid not to give things another go with Evan.
This thread is continued in Abby's Skype call to Julia, near the end of The Futures, when she says
"Jules, listen. You should call him. Let him know you're back in town. Don't you think that's only fair?"
Both Elizabeth and Abby see that Julia has to give it another go with Evan. She won't find potential happiness until she does. This is continued in
"And you have to trust yourself, to know what matters to you. You're a smart girl. You're going to be fine. Don't let other people think they know better",
when Julia meets her new friend Sara, whom she met at a party with Adam. Sara tells her to only trust herself and her thoughts. She's let Adam push her around, as well as Evan to an extent and Laurie, her ex boss. She needs to stand up for herself, now.
What did I like about The Futures?
* I liked the switched POV format this book gave us. I felt I connected more to Julia's story, because I'm a girl but Evan's story still had a point to it.
* I found it very realistic, as I put above. We all go through dramas. I don't believe that every author brings all of life's struggles into their work. I felt that Pitoniak did a good job at this.
What didn't I like about The Futures?
* I didn't like how the book seemed to solely focus on the lives of Julia and Evan. In other first perspective books that I've read there have always been elements outside of the main characters story to focus on. Here, I didn't feel as if there were.
*I thought the setting could have been described a lot better. I get that this isn't a fantasy, so it's hard to go overboard with it but we didn't really get much setting apart from the office, various coffee shops/restaurants and Julia and Evan's home described and even these were lacking in description, I thought.
* I didn't like the amount of business talk that went into The Futures. I get that it's an important part of the story but I didn't understand all of it. Maybe if done of the terms had been described better this wouldn't have been the case.
*I felt as though the side characters weren't focused on enough. They honestly felt like a bit of a plot device, just to further the story on.
I'm therefore giving The Futures 3 Stars. I enjoyed it but I thought the author missed the opportunity to give us some vital things to this story. I would have liked less focus on the business side of things and more on perhaps, the settings and side characters, as I feel these weren't really touched on at all.
Does The Futures sound like your sort of read? Will you be picking it up?