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BOOK REVIEW: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

| 17 January 2015 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

January 2015
Paperback, $15.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell



Seventeen-year-old Prenna James emigrated to New York when she was twelve. But 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.


The Here and Now has the makings of a good time travel/controlling cult/forbidden love story. But something must have gone wrong in the combining of these ingredients.


In the positive category, we have:

– A big ol’ wasteland of a future, justifying the trip back in time to save the people of the past from themselves, and to fix the world for those future generations they left behind.

– The shady governing body of the community of travellers, who ensure people follow the twelve rules, or that they’re not around to cause any more trouble if they do break said rules. Each year the community comes together for a mandatory ceremony, during which the twelve rules are read and the congregation must look upon images of those they have “lost” in the past twelve months.

– The boy from outside the community who seems to really understand the main character, despite how little she has told him… because he actually knows more than he’s letting on.

– A catalyst that kicks the main character into gear when she learns that a critical event draws ever nearer, promising to send the world down the same dark path they came back to avoid.


But then we also have:

– A main character who was so smart that she was allowed on the expedition, despite her health issues which would have excluded her, but who does such stupid things and makes such stupid choices that the reader can’t help but doubt the girl’s intelligence.

– “Twists” that the reader can see coming a mile off, even without the author’s big, gesticulating song and dance.

– A time-travelling main character who doesn’t really seem to understand how time travel works, and jumps to the worst conclusions a lot of the time, but not in the instances where she actually could be going down a path that would spell the destruction of mankind.

– A lot of weak, poorly drawn characters.

– Plot holes!


Things that didn’t make sense:

– A lot of the clothing they had in Prenna’s time came from our current day, apparently. BUT science was developing a tablet to cure obesity until the end of the 2040s, and they had memory discs that you could record EVERYTHING on, even in Prenna’s time, 2098.

– The people of 2098 are hiding from mosquitoes which are the latest transmitter of the blood plague. People don’t produce clothes, are dying from the plague, there’s a food shortage, and the world is basically done for. But they have memory drives and the ability to TRAVEL BACK IN TIME?!

– The travellers come from  93 years in the future, and they have a hard time with “th”. They have a hard time saying it. Apparently they don’t use “the” or “they” or “that” in the future, but in the letters the main character writes to her younger brother, they are RIDDLED with “th” words.

– The main characters decide that, rather than trying to suss out the events around a murder that is going to happen, or trying to work out how to warn the victim, they will go to the beach, play some cards, and do some under-age drinking. They get to the scene of the future murder eventually, but not with enough time to really scope things out.
The fate of the whole world rests on this event, and if the characters can’t care a little more about it, it makes it difficult for the reader to do so.


All in all this was a quick, easy read. It wasn’t difficult to get through at all, but it was another of those novels that claims science-fiction and offers up romance with a weak science backdrop instead.

I did like the dynamic between Prenna and Ethan, and applaud the author on sticking to the science in certain issues and ending on a hopeful but open note, rather than going the dues ex machina route to tie up loose ends and give all the characters a happily ever after.

If you happen across it in your travels, or if you like romance better than science, I certainly wouldn’t advise against it. But don’t pick it up if you’re expecting much in the way of sci-fi.


Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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