Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Random House Children's/Delacorte Press on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: The Here and Now
Author: Ann Brashares
Publication Date: April 8, 2014

My Pre-Reading

Synopsis: 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.


Review: I am really torn on this book. I wanted to love it because the synopsis sounds great and I loved Ann Brashare's Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants books... but I just didn't. And the more I think about it, the less I think I enjoyed it. 

I know that sounds pretty negative, but there were definitely many great things about this book. The future, where civilization has been destroyed by a plague carried by mosquitoes, is something that I think could be entirely plausible. I liked that Prenna made note of things like alternative energy research and global climate change that ultimately created the future she knows and how it was mind-boggling that people today are basically predicting the future but do nothing to stop it from happening. There's definitely a little bit of social commentary there, and it really puts things into perspective.

I also liked the time travelling aspect of this book and the idea that even though science is advanced enough to allow people to immigrate in time, it can't cure everything. There are limitations, and I think that helped add a little bit of reality to the extraordinary situations. It was also kind of interesting to see how Prenna and the rest of the Community were integrated with people in 2014. I liked that they were forced to watch classic movies and TV shows and learn about pop culture and were actually placed in normal high schools instead of being made to attend something like a Community School. 

One of my major concerns with this book was with the characters. Prenna was kind of annoying most of the time, and I wish that we had been able to see things from Ethan's perspective as well as Prenna's. Or even had a 3rd person narration so that we could see the big picture. I didn't like how easily Prenna was willing to give up the rules that have governed her entire life and how she basically does

Ethan, on the other hand, somehow ends up being a jack of all trades. Anything Prenna needs, Ethan can do. It's actually pretty frustrating, because WHY does Ethan know how to do all of these random things? How does he always have the right tools and the right answers? Is he some kind of super hero? And I know this is being promoted as a "romantic thriller" and all, but the "romance" part just felt really unnecessary to the whole story. I felt like the only reason it was included was to break one of the rules of Prenna's society and the book probably would have been even better without it. I enjoy a believable romance, but this was just kind of ridiculous.

Overall, I enjoyed most of this book but was left wanting more for most of it. The plot is thrilling and the race to save the world is exciting (except when Prenna and Ethan take one of the three days they have left to save the world and sit on the beach playing card games and drinking sangrias and talking awkwardly about being intimate...), but the characters and the romance felt forced and took away a lot of my enjoyment of this book. I would recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting take on the future, as long as you don't mind a romance plot running side-by-side with a save-the-world plot. This book wasn't really my thing, but I did read it all in one sitting... so I'd still give it a 3/5.


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