I received this book for free from Publisher 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 Listening Library on 4/18/2014
Genres: Romance, Science-fiction, Young Adult
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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.
Told in the future and present, The Here and Now by Ann Brashares is a fascinating story, but lacks the oomph that would take it to the next level. I actually had the ARC for this on my Kindle, but Jessica, one of my co-bloggers, reads like a machine and got to it much quicker than I did, so I decided to let it go, especially when she gave it a three-star rating. But then I got a chance to listen to it. I was intrigued if it would be better as an audio? So I decided to give it a shot. Jessica covers much of what bothers me in The Here and Now: no details on how such a mass emigration happens, where did Ethan learn to do the things he did, and in general, just plain stupid decisions made by the characters. I was also bothered that the entire society could be so easily overcome by one emotionally charged and hormonal teenage girl (plus her sort-of boyfriend). Um, what? Like Jess, I felt that much of the first half of the novel was great: time was dedicated to ensuring the reader (or listener) understood that Prenna, our main protagonist, really only traded one kind of dystopian society for another. In the future, we have damaged the world so badly, her people feel they need to leave it and the only way to do so is to travel back in time to 2014, where they must live a very regimented life that has almost no influence on what they call the time natives. And that is where it fell apart for me, and apparently for Prenna. Under the guise of “this is best for you”, her people’s leaders monitor everything they do, keeping them under control and influence with suspect methods that clearly are doing nothing to change the future for themselves – and all of humanity. It is told in a series of Nows and Thens, the Thens being the future Prenna and her people have come from, or sometimes from right after they immigrated. Some of their past is told in letters to Julius. I enjoyed how the story unfolded, the Nows and Thens were one of the more interesting aspects of it. I think I have a hard time with time travel novels, though. How do you influence society without actually becoming a part of it? Without your DNA becoming ingrained in it, literally? How do Prenna and her people ensure they will not be their own great-great-great-grandparents? These were the thoughts that tumbled around in my mind as I listened to The Here and Now, because time travel just seems so implausible to me when I’m faced with raising the questions, I guess. The romance between Ethan and Prenna didn’t do a lot for me, either. So much time is spent leading the reader away from any romance because “it’s not allowed” that by the time any of it does, it feels banal. Although the time Prenna and Ethan do spend together is very sweet, there was just nothing about it that made it stand out from any of the other YA novels with romance. Give me something more! Make me pay attention! The Here and Now is an okay story, I just struggled with so many details of it.
I feel like Emily Rankin did a pretty good job narrating. She differentiated between adult voices and teens, men and women, all pretty well and it wasn’t a struggle to listen to her.