The Here and Now
by Ann Brashares
Expected Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is no way influenced my final opinion of the work.
Format Read In: E-ARC
View from the Traffic Light:
Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.
Thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking, The Here and Now is a twenty-first-century take on an impossible romance. Ann Brashares’ first novel for teens since The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is 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.
Meet 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 she falls for Ethan Jarves.
The Here and Now held a lot of promise, but never quite lived up to the excitement and intrigue that a time travel plot should have had. In fact, for quite a bit of There Here and Now, I was contemplating this book down. I only decided not to because I saw potential in the story and I have truly enjoyed Ann Brashares’ other work, so desperately wanted to give this one a chance, given my love of time travel novels.
Dare I say that There Here and Now was just. . . boring? It was by no means bad(though a few of the sentences were quite awkward considering how seasoned of a writer Brashares is). The voice was fine. The romance was okay. The plot had potential. But overall, those are the only words I can really use to describe The Here and Now–“fine” “okay” “decent”. Mediocre. It held my attention just enough to keep me reading, but not enough to make me actually care. At one point a character’s life is in danger and all I could think was “Hmmm, I should probably feel something. Do I? Nope.”
These reviews are always the most difficult to write because I don’t feel passionately either way about The Here and Now. It wasn’t a bad way to pass the time, but I wouldn’t recommend it or read it again. I found it lacking quite a bit, especially plot-wise. I think the main issue with The Here and Now is that it just took so long for the actual plot to start. The first half of the book was all about setting up the world and characters, and while I appreciated that, nothing really happened until after the 50% mark. Before that, most of The Here and Now is just Prenna going about her life and talking to Ethan.
The plot itself was a little simplistic for a time travel book, but the logistics of it worked well enough. In the case of The Here and Now, it’s probably best that the plot and mysteries were kept rather simple. There weren’t many twists, but some of the more action-oriented scenes were well-done. However, at the end of The Here and Now, I’m not really sure what the point of a good chunk of the book was. Part of The Here and Now involves saving the future, which is a pretty standard time travel plot device. Actions have consequences, though, and I had trouble believing things would be as linear as The Here and Now made it seem.
As far as the characters, while I did feel that both Prenna and Ethan grew in understandable ways, I found their characterization a little one-dimensional. While nothing was aggravating about their characters, they weren’t compelling either. And the development of the romance happened too fast for me without ever really giving me a reason to believe the two liked each other except for the fact they were both affected by the time stream. It didn’t feel like an organic relationship in the slightest.
While there wasn’t anything technically wrong with The Here and Now, I found the actual story quite boring, which is something that should never be said of a time travel novel. There were glimpses of promises, but on the whole I just didn’t care for the characters or see anything that would push this one into “like” territory for me. 2/5 cupcakes.