The Here and Now
by Ann Brashares
Delacorte Press | On sale April 8, 2014
About the book:
An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.
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.
From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.
Time travelling characters, secrets, attempts to change the future…as I read The Here and Now, I kept thinking of Fringe, one of my favourite TV shows. Fringe had some very surprising story lines as well as several seasons to develop characters and weave various subplots and details together. Even the science in the show had some element of truth to it. Near the end of the show’s run, it was hard to keep all the timelines and universes straight, though, especially with the show’s cancellation and the need for the script writers to bring it to a somewhat premature series conclusion. Some foreshadowed details were abandoned, and it seemed there wasn’t enough time to close up all the promising subplots.
On that note, Ann Brashares latest novel would be a good pick for someone who is interested in sci-fi “light,” someone who maybe watched Fringe for to find out what would happen with Olivia and Peter.
The Here and Now is mainly a YA novel, with a tiny bit of very general physics thrown in. It is a light read, and somewhat predictable. I like that it ends on a hopeful note, that we can do something to make a difference in the world, but I do have a few quibbles with the story.
My main criticisms are the weak character development and amount of exposition. Brashares tries to add depth to Prenna’s character by periodically including letters from her to her brother Julius, but these letters sometimes come across as preachy, and they’re a bit of a simplistic way to reveal unimportant details. Ethan’s character is also superficially developed — we don’t know much about his motivations behind various actions, yet we’re supposed to accept that he wants to know Prenna, at whatever risks that may bring. Even the obstacles that both Prenna and Ethan face are underdeveloped and underwhelming.
The Here and Now is not quite a romance, not quite a dystopian novel, not quite science fiction. Overall, I think this novel is best suited for reading during school vacations.