March 18, 2014

Latest Read: The Here And Now by Ann Brashares

Here are the basics ...
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Publication date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Category: Young Adult - Science Fiction
Source: Received from publisher via Netgalley (Thanks!)

Summary: 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…
The good: The only Ann Brashares books I've read are The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants so I had no idea what to expect from The Here and Now. I hadn't even read the synopsis before reading. All I saw was Ann Brashares and thought - I want to read that! So I was definitely surprised to see her tackling time travel in this book. Seventeen year old Prenna James is part of a community of time travelers from the future who go back in time because their reality is plagued by a mosquito-borne virus. Millions have died and time travel was the safest course of action. But living in the past means living by some strict rules. No relationships with outside people (or "time natives"), tell no one where they come from and don't interfere with historical events. This has been her life for the last five years. From the beginning her leaders seem controlling but everyone follows because they think they don't have a choice. Then Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves and together they end up uncovering secrets about time traveling, the mysterious disease and Prenna's past.

The chemistry and dynamic between Prenna and Ethan was my favorite part of the book. Whether they were just friends or on the run from Prenna's leaders and unknown forces or spending a day together on the beach playing cards, the feelings and tension between them was palpable. Prenna felt constantly at odds with what she wanted -- Ethan and to be "normal" -- and with following the rules of her society. She can't forget her life before and this is seen through the letters she writes to her baby brother. I like that she questioned the rules and wanted to follow her heart. Ethan was the perfect match for her. Even though we don't get any chapters from his point-of-view, we learn a lot about his personality through Prenna's eyes. He's kind, loyal, intelligent and cares for her deeply. I couldn't help wanting them to be together despite the odds against them.

(Some) reservations: I did feel like something was missing or that the story needed more. As much as I enjoyed reading about these characters, the world-building around Prenna's time, how they discovered time travel and why her leaders were so controlling was vague at best. Moments that were supposed to carry a lot of weight fell a bit flat or were written confusingly (one huge part I had to read twice because I thought I had missed something). I think giving the readers a better background and understanding would've made everything in the book much more urgent and heightened. Or if the focus was truly meant to be on the characters, then more time should've been spent on them.

Do I recommend?: It was okay. I think if you're interested in time travel and would like to see more of Ann Brashares work, you should check it out from the library. But I do think I like her contemporary fiction (ie. Sisterhood) best.

Happy reading!

3 comments:

  1. I'm still very curious about The Here and Now! I too have only ever read her Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, but immediately took on the chance to read this one when I saw it. Now that I do know a little bit more about it, I'm definitely curious to see if I end up feeling like you do (which is VERY likely)!

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  2. I've been on the fence about this one and if you're kinda meh about it, I think I'll skip it. I always very highly regard your recs and passes :) Great review, love!

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  3. I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this book, I was curious since The Here and Now seems so different from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants but I really didn't know if this book would be good, I mean, she's good at writing contemporaries, but a dystopia ? Plus she wrote My Name Is Memory and it was MEH. So now I know I don't want to read it aha so thank you ;)

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