Thursday, January 8, 2015

Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
TIME TRAVEL AND FORBIDDEN ROMANCE FROM THE BEST SELLING AUTHOR OF THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELLING PANTS
Thrilling, exhilarating, haunting and heartbreaking, The Here and Now is a twenty-first-century take of an impossible romance.
There are rules.
Never reveal where you’re from.Never be intimate with anyone outside the community.And never interfere with history.
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. Prenna does as she's told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth and take the lives of her younger brothers. But everything changes when she falls for Ethan.
She might be able to save the world ... if she lets go of the one thing she's found to hold on to.

MY TAKE:
The blurb told me that there were at least three things I would like about The Here and Now: time travel, forbidden romance, and a pandemic (anything medicine-related fascinates me).

In The Here and Now, Prenna and a number of people from the future have traveled to 2010 to escape their life in a world ravaged by a blood plague. Fast forward to 2014, and a homeless man she is vaguely acquainted with suddenly reveals to her that he knows that he is from the future. This sets in motion a series of events that may or may not change their future for the better... or for the worse.

Time travel, string theory, and quantum physics in general is a tricky subject to understand, let alone write about. The Here and Now doesn't go into much detail about these, but from what I understand of the subject, the book is able to take the principles into account. The time loops, the consequences, the possibilities of different alternate futures were all fascinating ideas.

The mystery of what exactly is going on and the purpose of sending the community to that time was interesting as well. At first, I thought this would be a sort of escaping-from-a-cult-type novel, but that's not the main point here. The main point is what might happen if someone from the future comes here and tries to change things, or just tries to live here, and what effect that might have on the future. The complexity of the story, the idea of a time-travelers' society within our own, as well as the way the story ended suggests to me that there might be at least a couple more books after this one.

I did notice something, though, about their blood plague. Prenna mentions that it was a dengue fever outbreak that started out as being blood-borne before being vector-borne by mosquitoes. The version of the dengue virus that was the worst a particularly nasty mutated strain. Now, dengue fever is endemic to my country, and its mode of transmission is via mosquito, not bodily fluids. That bothered me a bit because I thought this book was set in our time and universe, and I wanted it to be like that. However, since Ethan didn't question Prenna, this suggests to me that they exist in a different universe from this one.

The romance between Ethan and Prenna, is sweet and innocent, which is nice. However, since by the time we see them after their initial meeting, they've already known each other for two years and much of the development of their attraction has happened off the pages. When we start, they're already pretty much in that time frame before you start going out on dates. This was probably why I didn't feel as invested in their relationship as I could have been.

The only thing I didn't really like about this book was Prenna. Well, Prenna during the several points for 3/4th of the book. There were times she was okay, and it was like watching a child who's still fascinated by everything. However, there were several instances wherein I felt like yelling at Prenna. I actually would have too, had my son not been asleep next to me at that time. My first reaction was that Prenna was stupid, but when I thought about it, I realized that it was more naivety than stupidity. Thankfully, in the last couple of chapters, she grew a backbone and I liked her after that. Hopefully, in the sequels, she will be just as level-headed and emotionally strong.

Thanks to NetGalley and Hodder Children's Books for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. There's plenty of action and adventure.
  2. The plot twists are excellent.
  3. The book ends in such a way that makes you interested in reading what happens next. 

THE BAD:

  1. Prenna has moments of extreme naivety during the first 3/4th of the book. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like thrillers, action and mystery.
  2. You think time-travel and alternate universes are interesting.
  3. You like stories of forbidden romance. 

RATING:
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