Title: The Here and Now
Author: Ann Brashares
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
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.
When I first started to read The Here and Now I thought it was such an amazing story! I was sucked right in and I was under the impression that this was going to be a fantastic book that I would recommend to all of my friends. There is this feeling that readers get though, when books are really good, this excitement in the pit of your belly and this feeling of longing whenever you don’t have the book in your hands. I didn’t get it. This confused me because on the surface I thought I liked the book. Then I finished it…and I could not figure out how I felt.
There was no “wow that was good!” or “I’ve got to tell my friend about this!” there was just, “okay….so now I’m done.” The more I thought about the book the more I realized it wasn’t the amazing book that I thought it was. While there were a few things that I enjoyed (I’ll get to that later) a lot of it rubbed me the wrong way.
First the “future” that Prenna and the others come from is less than 100 years in the future and yet, somehow, the entire world dissolves. Somehow they’ve developed the technology to send a whole lot of people back in time, but they can’t develop technology to fix what’s gone wrong. I definitely felt like Brashares was trying to say that all technology was bad. She certainly went as far as saying that big companies and corporate America were evil and would be the downfall of the world. She went as far as to say even those who were environmentalists and cared about the environment and who tried to do something to change the future and preserve the world for future generations aren’t doing enough. Basically humans aren’t doing enough.
This is a book with a heavy agenda. What bothered me was that it was such an important topic in the book and yet it was not mentioned in the description. I had no idea what I was getting myself into before reading. Another thing that really bothered me was that for the first chunk of the book anytime the future was mentioned and the destruction that had fallen upon it, global warming wasn’t actually said. Those words weren’t used. I felt like it was trying to be disguised and that really rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like I was being deceived. If you are going to write a book about a topic, especially a politically charged topic, I think it’s important to be upfront about it. Let me know that this is what you are going to talk about otherwise I feel like something shady is going on. This book was basically just a young adult version of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.
The character of Ethan wasn’t developed at all. I understand that I was reading the book through Prenna’s eyes and so I would only get to know what she knows…but surely if she’s been best friends with this kid she would know a little more about him. There are several ways for Brashares to add in information about his past without info dumping. She could have woven something in there.
This leads me to Prenna and her society. Uh…what? There are mentions of characters that are villain like to her. There wasn’t enough on these characters to make them ominous or scary. There wasn’t enough about them to make me feel nervous. Prenna is punished and taken to a secret location…one that Ethan very easily finds, and nothing happens there. She’s dropped there and then rescued and the plot moves on effortlessly as if the whole thing never happened.
There was no urgency in the book. There was a specific date when an event that would change the course of the world forever and what do the characters do? They take a swim, go to dinner, and play some card games. It was painful. The Madonna song, 4 Minutes, kept playing through my head during this. They’ve got about 4 (give or take a day) days to save the entire planet and what do they do? They chillax.
Then their plan to save the woman that they need too is just ridiculous. She obviously knows Ethan, so why not just send Ethan in there? Why not just have Ethan call her and take her out for her birthday? There are endless situations that could have worked better and made more sense than the plan that was ultimately played out.
The only thing that I like about the book now that I am finished with it is the fact that one person can make a difference. Prenna and Ethan have to save one woman from being murdered because if she is then the entire world is going to crash and burn. I liked that. Every person matters.
Overall this book is not one that I would recommend to anyone.