Title: The Here and Now
Author: Ann Brashares
Publisher:Hachette Children’s Books
Publication Date: Paperback, January 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
The Here and Now did not live up to the expectations I had of Ann Brashares, being a huge fan of the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series. I hate giving bad reviews, but unfortunately, there was little in this book to redeem it’s faults. I can’t say that I enjoyed it.
First of all, the protagonist, Prenna, is a bit of an idiot. There’s a scene in the book after she’s rebelled and fled from home and the time immigrants’ governing body, but instead of keeping her distance to protect herself like any thinking human would, she thinks, “I need to go home and have a shower to freshen up.” Despite being warned by her travelling companion, she returns home. Of course, there are people waiting to arrest her and detain her. Like really? Honestly, you can’t even call this a rookie mistake, because it’s just plain stupid.
Secondly, there’s absolutely nothing at all to the romance. They’re friends first and that is quite adorable, but it goes from nothing to all instantly. There’s no real discussion, and suddenly they’re sleeping together, making out, and seriously talking about having sex. They don’t even take the time to establish themselves as a couple before they’re fooling around. On top of that, they’re in the middle of a mission to save all of Earth, but they take a break from that mission to take a little vacation at some Myrtle Beach-esque location where they frolic in the waves and mack on one another as if Earth can wait to be saved. Let’s just leave everything to the very last second and hope that things turn out okay.
I had to question Ethan as well. He sees this girl appear out of thing air when he’s approximately 14, but he never once mentions anything to Prenna. Not in the 4 or so years that they’re friends. It’s only when things begin to fall apart that he’s mentions, ‘actually, I know you’re from the future, and I’ve known all this time, so you don’t have to waste any more time lying to me and even though you hardly said 2 words to me before now because you were trying so hard to keep your secret, I actually love you and will risk my life and everything I know to save you and these people who have done their best to ensure that you remain passive and under control.’ I can’t see what about her draws him in, but he can’t help but falling in love with her. Why, I don’t know.
I couldn’t pin down how old these characters were supposed to be. I think they’re supposed to be 18? But on the one hand, Prenna can’t seem to function without everyone telling her what to do (i.e. take off your glasses because they’re tools to spy on you, or, make sure you so something to stop the future we lived from happening, or, don’t go back home or they’ll capture you), but on the other hand, she and Ethan are served alcohol and look old enough to pass for university aged students. Honestly if Ethan wasn’t around, Prenna would have been dead right around page 2.
Lastly, the villain. He’s a murderous, unrelenting felon one second, and the next he’s everyone’s best friend in the hospital. He’s hardly in the story, thus his presence doesn’t really appear to be much of a threat to the reader. He’s there, but he’s not really there until the very end of the story. And then conveniently, he offs himself at the end.
I didn’t mind the way that time travel was dealt with. I liked the idea of it as a means of escape from the horrendous future, but as I’ve said before, time travel is always problematic. Brashares does discuss how their interaction with the “time natives” can influence how things turn out in the future, and she does open up the door for the world to have a new and hopefully better future, but ultimately, because of the weak characters and lack of strong plot, the time travel topic was just too much for this novel.
I wouldn’t recommend this, I’m sorry to say. If you have read it, I hope you had better luck with it than I did.