Book Review – The Here and Now by Ann Brashares


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Title: The Here and Now
Author: Ann Brashares
Print Length: 258 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385736800
Publisher: Delacorte Press (April 8, 2014)
Sold by: Random House LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B00ERTDJKS
Amazon Review: 3.6/5 stars

I borrowed this book from my local library

Book blurb as seen on Amazon.com:

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.

This book started as a solid 4 stars for me. I loved the premise. The characters were intriguing. And the writing was good. I liked some lines so much, I’m going to share them, though maybe they won’t make sense out of context, but the way the words mix together sang to me, so here goes:

The gap between what we say and what we feel is so big and dark that sometimes I think I’ll fall into it and just keep falling.

***

Already he is the drip, drip of water that carves a canyon right through the middle of me.

***

“If it was okay for me to kiss you,” he whispers, “would you want me to?”

I know I should lie. I should make this easier on both of us. But I’ve begun to tell the truth, and I am drunk on it. “The most of anything,” I whisper into the seat.

***

I am getting the hang of this, spending my questions like a millionaire.

***

Ethan claims he is some kind of supergenius expert at Gin, so when I beat him in our second game, he is so beset by rage and disbelief that he makes us play three more times, and writhes in psychological pain as I beat him every time.

***

Down goes the bucket again, into the long-abandoned memory well. I surprise myself with what comes up.

Okay, that’s all. But I loved those lines enough to write them down verbatim in a notebook and type them again for this post. I feel I do enough ranting about “bad” writing, I should give some cred to good writing as well.

On to the book!

The beginning was enticing, doling out morsels for the reader to nibble on while they progressed through the beautiful prose. There were a lot of abstracts and half-truths and opinions meted out to keep you reading to find out the whole picture. And then there was the forbidden love story between Ethan and Preena (loved the name!) Their romance was believable and progressed naturally through years of knowing each other. You wanted them to be together, even while knowing it was impossible, and seeing that it really was impossible. The sexual and emotional tension was palpable.

But then we got into specifics. This is where time travels books usually fail. I really enjoyed this book from start to finish, but my analytical-brain just wasn’t buying it. If you’re going to write a time-travel novel, you better think it through, and most in my opinion don’t. I don’t want to ruin it for you, (I’ll do that in the spoiler at the bottom) but let’s just say if you follow the time line, or even the time circles, or whatever you want to call it, then the things that happen in this novel couldn’t happen. Changing one thing changes another which changes another which means the first thing wouldn’t have happened at all thereby not affecting the other things. See what I mean? And just to be clear, once you time travel, you’re stuck. No going back.

There were a couple of other minor, minor problems. Like the fact the book is set in 2014, and Preena comes from circa 2090, but in the future people don’t understand Christmas and they talk differently. I’m not sure 80 years is enough to change things that much.

And when Preena appears in 2014 for the first time she is naked, but other people brought boxes of belongings. That was never explained, like at all. Seemed like a big hole.

Oh, and I’m getting really tired of random teens with mad hacker-skills. Ethan comes through with some pretty amazing computer hacks to save the day, but I’m just done with teens that have whatever magic skill is needed to complete the task at hand.

And Preena sees Ethan’s obituary in the paper that is brought from the future, but it’s printed the day after he supposedly dies. Pretty sure obits aren’t printed the day after your teenage son is murdered.

And last, but certainly not least, Preena’s “people” came from the future to try to stop the plague that wipes out the world. So a thousand people travel through time, but get so comfortable in their current life they no longer want to save the billions of people who die in the future? Preena’s mom lost two sons and she’s willing to stand by and not work her ass off to save them? That was probably the hardest thing to swallow. There is no comfortable life possible for me that would stop me from trying to save my kids.

Really, I did like this book. I know I talk about the negatives a lot, and just wait for the spoiler at the bottom, but the prose was beautiful, the premise was interesting and the romance was pure and emotional. I liked the characters and rooted for them. Even the “bad guy” you kind of understood where he was coming from. So I would still recommend this book, because not everyone is as picky as me when it comes to plot. If you just want to be swept away by a story, then by all means read it, but if you want things to make sense at the end, well, maybe try something else.

My review: 3/5 stars (I’d have given it a 4 if it weren’t for plot holes)

And now for the spoiler!!!

***SPOILER*** So let’s just walk through this a little bit. If Preena changes the future and they stop or alter the plague that kills billions, then Preena will have no reason to come back in time and then she won’t change the future. Time travel novels always do this and it drives me insane. Why can’t they just mention, “Hey, when we get to the future we have to tell our future selves that we will be forced to give up our lives and time-travel or everyone dies.” Because, if some old woman showed up claiming to be me and told me that I’d jump right in the time travel device, right? But whatever. Say Preena is more gullible and noble than me, so she does. Supposedly when Baltos time-travels, he kills not only Mona so he can protect his family’s oil wealth, but also kills Ethan, who invented time travel. If Ethan dies, he can’t invent time travel, so how does Baltos time travel in order to kill him? Not to mention, if Baltos kills Mona, saves his family’s oil wealth, then he won’t have a reason to time travel either because he only did it to save his family’s business. Oh, and you can’t go back, so forget that. You’re stuck. And you can only travel back to 2010 for some reason, so Baltos hangs around for 4 years until he finally kills Mona? Why? This is where I think time-travel novels trip up. They place too much importance on the changing of time, thereby negating the believability of their premise to begin with. Limit what you change, and the reader will believe it. Alter too many things and you run into a hornets nest of possibilities. ***SPOILER OVER***

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