Title: The Here and Now
Author: Ann Brashares
Publisher: Delacorte Press, imprint of Random House
Date Published: April 8, 2014
Format: ARC—received in exchange for a fair review
Prenna is a teenager from the future. Her world was ravaged by a mosquito-borne plague and an environmental disaster. She has come to the present, with a large group of people from her time, to escape this world and find a way to change the bleak future. This group is not really all that great, though. They are more of a cult creating a set of rigid rules for all from this group to live by. One of these rules is that there cannot be any relationships with “time-natives” (people from the present)— and OF COURSE this rule is going to be a major issue.
I am a big fan of time-travel stories. It’s one of my favorite things to read or watch. I do like it when they make some sense scientifically, but mostly that doesn’t even matter. I just want it read a great story with well-developed and likable characters. Brashares’s The Here and Now did not do any of those things for me.
The science in this book is awful. They never even try to explain how they went back in time— or how some other random people not in the group managed to get back as well. We are also expected to believe that about 80 years from now the world has changed so completely that a Dengue-like disease has almost completely eradicated humanity. Let’s not think about how Dengue is a very curable disease even with little to no fancy medical treatment, *sigh.* Also, people’s pronunciation of American English managed to completely change in this time as well. So much that when they arrived in the present they had to learn how to make the “th” sound. Really? If you go back 80 years from today I doubt that language would be all that different. When you watch films from then you are not struggling to understand what people are saying, so why would that be the case in the future?
Now to the actual story, and it doesn’t get any better here. It starts off strong and has an interesting premise, but once you get to the middle it just falls apart. There is no real conflict and we spend a lot of time with our protagonists playing cards, trying on bathing suits, and going to the beach. When we finally get to the climax of the novel, it doesn’t even matter to you. Prenna’s voice is so dull that she makes everything boring.
I had a major issue with the romance in this book. It is total insta-love between Prenna and Ethan. Their relationship has no depth. They just mope around, play cards, and talk about how much they love each other and how much it sucks that they can’t be together. Ethan just loves her from the moment he lays eyes on her and has some unexplained special abilities to be able to see when people are from the future. He is just so super perfect and does everything right. He is handsome, understanding, a physics genius, and also a master hacker. Prenna is supposed to be really smart, too, but you never see it. She is so inept and if it weren’t for Ethan, she would not accomplish a thing.
Cover Critique: The cover is eye-catching. The colors are very pretty and I like what they did with all the triangles (random fact about me: I really like triangles, for no reason in particular). The girl’s face takes away from this and makes it look too much like a corny, YA book— but seeing as it is one of those, I guess it’s appropriate.
Quick Version: A time-travel, YA book that starts off strong and falls to pieces. The plot is poorly constructed and the characters are weak and underdeveloped.
2/5 stars 😡