Author: Ann Brashares
Released: January 1st 2015
Publisher: Hodder Children's
Length: 303 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Thrilling, exhilarating, haunting and heartbreaking, The Here and Now is a twenty-first-century take of an impossible romance.There are rules.Never reveal where you’re from.Never be intimate with anyone outside the community.And never interfere with history.Seventeen-year-old Prenna James emigrated to New York when she was twelve. But 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. Prenna does as she's told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth and take the lives of her younger brothers. But everything changes when she falls for Ethan.She might be able to save the world ... if she lets go of the one thing she's found to hold on to.
Having read several negative reviews back when The Here and Now was first released, I nevertheless decided to give it a fair chance hoping I would feel differently, as I sometimes do. The opening part seemed very promising, which allowed me to think my stubbornness would be rewarded, but it quickly became clear that my opinion would align with those of several trusted friends. The Here and Now is not a bad book as such, but I found it lacking in characterization, scientific background and sometimes, unfortunately, even common sense.
My main problem with Brashares’ novel is that it completely neglects any scientific theories involving time travel. It addresses possible consequences superficially, choosing not to base them on one of many existing scientific debates. This lack of research, especially when there’s so much material to draw from, is truly the only thing I can’t overlook or forget.
Prenna starts out as an excellent character. She lives in a community of time travelers from the future under very strict rules. Her world was ruined by the plague and while those that traveled seem to be immune, they can nevertheless be extremely dangerous for the so called time natives. Unlike her peers, Prenna is no stranger to critical thinking and she’s ready to defy her elders when their many rules make little sense. Although I liked her at the start, I soon noticed that Prenna was a pretty generic character, with nothing that would make her stand out and be remembered. She was rebellious, but not convincingly so, and it didn’t take long for her to lose my affection.
After four years of living by the rules, Prenna breaks them because of a boy. Ethan was present when she first arrived to her new life, but she doesn’t actually remember him. Still, there’s an undeniable closeness and a strong friendship that develops despite all the lies. Despite genuinely liking him, I was a bit perplexed by Ethan’s character because he seemed to transform into anything the story (or Prenna) required. He had access to tiny tracker devices, he understood very advanced physics, was able to run away with Prenna and rescue her from a well-guarded facility. His many talents were so unlikely that they constantly challenged my suspension of disbelief.
The upside of this book is that it’s fairly short and very easy to read. Even though it’s severely flawed, it’s pretty entertaining while you’re actually reading it. The story may not be able to withstand close scrutiny, but parts of it are enjoyable nevertheless.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations,monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.