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.The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Published by Delacorte Press, Random House on 4/8/14
Genres: Romance, Science-fiction, Young Adult
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An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.\r\n\r\nFollow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.
\r\nThis 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.\r\n\r\nPrenna 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.\r\n
But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.
From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.
I was excited to see that Ann Brashares had written a new novel, and jumped at the chance to read this one, especially when I read that it was about time-travel. I find the concept fascinating, but often difficult to execute really well in books. The story is told from the POV of Prenna, a teenager who has “immigrated” to New York from a very bleak dystopian future where plagues are destroying humanity. Someone has figured out how to time-travel (although we don’t get details on how this happens) and a group comes back to try and change the fate of the world. They live together in a community and must abide by 12 rules, the most important being that they cannot develop a physically or emotionally intimate relationship with anyone outside of their community. It doesn’t end well for anyone who does not follow the rules. Enter Ethan, who was fishing alone the day that Prenna materialized (beautiful, naked, and disoriented, of course) in the woods. She doesn’t remember their encounter, but they wound up in class together a couple of years later and they have become friends. Or at least the closest version of friendship Prenna can engage in, considering she is constantly monitored and warned about getting too close to a “time native”. The closer they become, the more dangerous it is for both of them, especially when Prenna begins to question her leaders, and if they are actually trying to ensure a better future. In the beginning, I really liked The Here and Now by Ann Brashares, but the closer it got to the end, I felt like it just unraveled. There were several big plot holes, and at times, the characters did things that were either unbelievably stupid or just completely unbelievable. Prenna – a girl who was supposed to have an unusually high IQ – couldn’t keep her mouth shut, even when she knew she was being monitored, and at one point she walked into the most obvious trap ever. And Ethan – how did he learn how to cut glass and place trackers on people? And where did he get the tools he needed to do these things, especially on short notice? I liked the letters that Prenna wrote to her brother that were dispersed throughout the book, and would like to have gotten more of the back story about the future and the time-travelers. There was definitely a message in the book, calling attention to the way that we treat the planet, but it never got preachy. I think there could been a whole lot more to the story. Although I haven’t heard anything about this being a series, I would read a sequel (or prequel, for that matter), just because there is so much potential.
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