TITLE: The Here and Now
AUTHOR: Ann Brashares
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Delacorte Press/2014
SOURCE: I received this book for review from the publisher via NetGalley.
Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.
This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.
Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.
But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.
Thoughts and Reactions
I read a few reviews for The Here and Now and was prepared to hate it. I was expecting for it to not make sense, for the characters to be heinous, really any number of sins, but you know what? I actually enjoyed my time spent reading. Maybe it's because I went into it with such low expectations, but I enjoyed the novel more than I thought I would. It certainly wasn't the perfect read and I'm not running out to buy it for friends, but it was a few hours of my time well spent.
Preena is a time traveler who has come to our era with a group of others from the future in order to prevent a completely dystopian future. However, this group has taken to hiding out and has not taken any action to change the future. Preena learns through unconventional means that a turning point is about to occur and she must prevent one event from happening that could change humanity's entire course.
I have to admit that I love books that involve time travel. They don't always make sense, but there's something about the possibility of multiple time lines and time being circular that appeals to me. Even if a story's not particularly well written I'll probably like it more than I should. A lot of people who's opinions I rely on when choosing books absolutely trashed The Here and Now and a few people didn't finish it. I can understand why. The plot was convoluted and their was a not entirely successful blend of romance and mystery. However, despite the convoluted nature of the time travel I was still reading at two am. Their were logical holes in the plot that even now I can't fully wrap my mind around so I'm not even going to touch on them here.
The love story was also problematic in that it wasn't exactly fleshed out. It was love at first sight and then we jump ahead a few years to a nearly fully developed relationship. Preena and Ethan are good friends despite her community's restrictions on relationships with people native to the time. Typical star crossed lovers trope. There's really no build up or tension to their relationship. They're basically in love as soon as the readers meet them. It's not as satisfying as watching a relationship grow.
The mixture of crazy time travel drama and romance was an odd balance.They seemed to take these large breaks from their mission and it suddenly became a contemporary romance for a few chapters. It was jarring and put me off from the part of the story I was actually interested in; the crazy time travel pandemic. These breaks from the main plot combined with some of the logic holes slowed the pace down and dragged the story out. I thought it could have been much tighter; most of the action was packed into a couple of pages and the characters seemed to have quite a few deus ex machinas on their side so in the end there was a lot of exposition as opposed to action.
It was most definitely not my favourite book and I think there are definitely better time travel stories out there. I didn't however hate it and it did keep me flipping the pages until the early morning hours. It might not be the best book out there, but it kept me entertained as I read it and sometimes that's all I ask for.