This book was a NetGalley pick. All opinions are my own. Please note that the end of this review contains spoilers, so if you’re going to read this, you might want to skip this, or at least stop reading when I say “Spoiler Alert.”
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
When I started reading this book (a pick from NetGalley), I was really excited about the premise. I’ve read some good time travel novels, and the idea of immigrants from the future seemed like a great premise. Unfortunately, it fell a little bit short of expectations.
Prenna is part of a group who has immigrated to 2014 from a future where the world is overrun by a sickness they call the blood plague. The colony is run by counselors who force the group to follow a specific set of rules, most focusing on keeping their origins a secret and discouraging relationships with “time natives”.
This is difficult for Prenna, however, when she forms a relationship with Ethan, a boy who witnessed Prenna’s arrival in his time and has been a bit obsessed with her since…even though he doesn’t form a relationship with her until four years after her arrival when circumstances put them in the same class. Prenna and Ethan are then sent on a mission to prevent a major incident from happening. In order for them to fix the future, they have to change something that happens at a fork in the time stream.
Time travel is a hard concept to really write well about. As a reader, I can often suspend my need to question everything in order to enjoy the plot. But there are some glaring time travel plot holes here, and nothing is truly explained to account for why some things change and others don’t.
As a character, Prenna is awkward at best and ignorant at worst. She comes across as helpless, meek, scared, and sad. She’s annoying, sure, but that’s who she is. And you eventually get used to it. Until suddenly, she’s not all those things. Except sad. She’s always sad. Ethan is a better character, but the relationship between the characters is hard to buy. If written chemistry is a thing, these characters lacked it.
The book had some redeeming values though. The writing was solid, though I think the story itself could have been fleshed out a bit more. While the execution failed, some of the concepts were interesting with regards to timelines and what might happen should a time traveler have relations with a time native. I also liked some of the questions it raised regarding the environment and where priorities lie with regards to the future of the global climate and the welfare of people right now.
SPOILER ALERT: so stop reading here if you don’t want to know anything about the ending….
…eyes closed….? Okay.
I very much appreciate that with the somber tone of this book, the author didn’t suddenly turn it around for a happy ending.
I wanted to love this book, but in the end, I found it to be just okay.