The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Thank you Delacorte and Netgalley for the ARC and sorry for being late.)
Release Date: April 201
Synopsis: 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.
Review: After finishing this book it took me a small moment to come to the conclusion that this book was not for me. I didn’t not like it, and nor did I passionately hate it. It took me a few minutes to come to this conclusion because I kept thinking to myself that I should like it. Rather than trying to force myself to like the book – trying to think of or make up reason – I’ve settled on my gut feelings. I wanted to like this book. I loved the premise. Unfortunately, it just didn’t come together for me the way I would have enjoyed it.
The time travel was enjoyable… but once you come to the time paradoxes they begin to get messy (and there wasn’t difficult paradoxes to begin with) and vague. Very vague. Overall I felt the time travel was okay. It was a means to make the plot happen and a means to add back story. However, it was not a focus on the book. Which was okay.
What this book was about was the community they lived in – the rigid structure and beliefs – which can be found outside of a time travel novel. The “forbidden” love – which can also be found outside of a time travel novel. And a murder mystery. Time travel was a means to enhance the reading experience. Unfortunately, it made some events in the story unclear. For example, whose murder were they truly supposed to stop? The way the book handled that question was very vague and never direct. Of course, we’re talking about time so maybe it doesn’t matter… maybe with the simplest changes time could be changed. But then if that was the case, the very act of them traveling back in time would have already changed the time/space continuity and hence the time line is already changed. Basically I wanted concrete answers… for me, they serve as a better explanation and better enjoyment rather than a “well… maybe this happened and thus this happened… or maybe it didn’t and this happen… or maybe it doesn’t matter at all or maybe there’s just nothing we can do… maybe.” This is just too flimsy for my tastes.
Then there’s the disease. They cured AIDS but not this disease. After a few briefs thoughts… I was willing to buy the disease excuse. And then at the end of the book, I decided: no I can’t. I could, if there were a reason or a part to explain that the disease continuously mutated or something… but up through to the end it seemed to be the same disease, the same virus. I did however concluded it was not a current (in today’s real life world) disease… that it was new made up disease (for the purpose of the book) which I would believed for the book’s sake up to that point. It killing off the world. Not so much.
Character wise… Prenna’s indecisiveness and lack of foresight (when she evens knows this herself) and lack of self preservation somewhat drove me crazy. But I was willing to stick with it until the end, hoping to see a gradual change. There was not a gradual change. It was abrupt and at the end where she starts demanding things… I was like, “Whoa! Hold up! HOLD UP! This is not her! This girl is not Prenna. SHe does not act or speak like her! Who is this new character?!” The change was too sudden for me to believe it.
We have Ethan Jarves. I liked him. And I changed this paragraph after reading some of the reviews on Goodreads. TAGENT AHEAD! I liked him a lot. He was kind. Understanding. Nice. Many of the reviews hated him. Why? Because he was perfect. Why perfect? Because he treated Prenna kindly – with respect. Which makes me wonder… why is that bad? Why is having a character who is kind and respectful to our female lead bad? What is wrong with being nice? Promptly, I had to check the other reviews these people have posted… interesting enough… their rave reviews goes to books where the boy interest is a “bad boy” aka they treat the girls like manure… like the girls are the flavor of the month favorite item and the boys don’t give a rat’s bottom about how they treat the girl because the girl would come begging and pleading on their bloody torn up knees to have the boy… say “I love you.” (Yes, these are exaggerations but you get my point)… What is up with some women and young girls… what is wrong with you people (I’m not talking to all you women and young girls out there)? It makes no sense… so you hate a nice perfect guy but love a guy who treats you like garbage (actually actual garbage is treated way much nicer sometimes)… there is seriously some thing wrong with you… EXPLAIN. Because I am eager to hear your ridiculous explanations… END TAGENT.
It’s love at first sight. *sighs* And what happens? The romance builds and they decide to go out on date-like events to suddenly forget that – “Hey! They are saving the world?” But the world can wait – because trying on a bathing suit is so much more important. These events sucks the urgency and importance of saving the world… thus rendering the time travel and purpose of the book (aka plot) void because it dragged down the book’s own world building and believablity.
So I liked Ethan in respects to how he treats Prenna. I liked the many potentials in this books…. the community, the time travel, the murder mystery, the possibility of the world’s future in the book… but at the end there was no conclusive concrete definite: “And this is the end.” There were only “maybes” and “loose ends” and “loose explanations.”
This is for the more casual reader. Harsh or intimate or critical readers will find too many faults to probably find this book enjoyable.
(Picture is hyper-linked to their Goodreads’ page.)
Why the Recommendation: Time travel. Love between two people from different times.
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Why the Recommendation: The approach in The Here and Now to time travel edges closer to “what ifs” as I have stated in the review, the explanations borders on vague. In this novel, it explores all the what ifs. Both also have touches of dystopian society.