Book Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Title: The Here and Now
Series: Standalone
By: Ann Brashares
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre Type: Science Fiction, Time travel, Dystopia, Romance
Publication Date: April 8th 2014
Pages: 256 pages
Publisher:  Delacorte Press


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.

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares is a young adult novel featuring some exciting elements of science fiction, forbidden romance and mystery. I was excited by the premise of the book and wanted to know more about its time travel aspect and a future Earth that is nearly destroyed by a plague.

Preena James is a traveler, not just any traveler, but a time travel from a future Earth that has been devastated. Ravaged by Blood plagues thought to have been originated from a mosquito-borne illness that mutated. It was the start of a pandemic that would end up slowly killing millions. Preena, along with her mother and fellow time travelers, are refugees who have immigrated back in time to present day New York. Their community lives by a strict set of rules in order to keep the Time natives from discovering them.  Rules based on fear. Never interfere with the Time native's history, never reveal where you're from, and most important of all, never, ever become intimately connected to one. Each day it gets harder for Prenna to follow the rules and keep herself separate from the others, always afraid to get too close to them. Rules that keep Preena from feeling. Rules that keep her from daring to change the future. Rules that Preena breaks when she begins to fall for Ethan.

At the heart of this story is a forbidden romance, a bit of mystery and a time travel story. Through Preena, we feel the disconnection and loneliness she has. A loneliness she feels despite being surrounded by so much abundance and beauty compared to the devastation she left behind. You can't but help contemplate the plausibility of the premise of the book, and shiver at the thought of something similar happening. The few times Preena remembers her future, in a sort of flashback of her life before she time traveled,  you get this incredible sense of a dystopian society, which thrilled and scared me. It's easy to feel her loss of her brother and father, as well as the devastation of Earth.

As far as characters goes I enjoyed both Preena and Ethan. In the beginning of the prologue we meet Ethan as he witnesses firsthand a young Preena  time traveling to Earth and is awed by the sight of her. It was this moment that kind of sealed if for me liking Ethan. He is sweet, smart and determined to get to the bottom of the mystery behind Preena. The same girl he witnesses years before appearing suddenly before his eyes out of nowhere. There's a few times where he seems more occupied with his strong feelings for Preena than the dire situation at hand or he conveniently does something (easily) to save the day. But, overall I thought he was sweet, charming, and totally devoted to Prenna.

Preena was at times easy to sympathize with and other times frustrating. I could easily understand her loneliness and her need to feel loved by Ethan. A love that is forbidden by her community. She was daring at times trying to solve the mystery behind the plague and challenging her community to try and make changes in hopes of saving the future. At other times, she would make the most awful decisions that you knew were only going to land her in trouble. And they did, often just prolonging the solving of the mystery which was frustrating and often a waste of time. There was moments thought that were truly thrilling as Preena discovers secrets behind the plague, the time-travelers, and an almost alternate time line that happens. I loved her interactions with Ethan as she learned not to shy away from him. Yes, sometimes these two seemed to be in romantic la-la land when they should have been racing to save the day, but I tried to forgive this aspect since I like romance. The placing of it just at times felt wrong, not the romance itself.

The end was was fast paced, with action, thrills and some heartbreak. As of now the book is a standalone, but the story leaves just enough room for the possibility of furthering the story. I would recommend the story to readers who enjoy the romantic them of a forbidden love, and those who like a bit of time travel and alternate reality themes.

My rating: 3 Stars. I liked it.

PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Delacorte Press in exchange for my fair review. Thank you Delacorte Press for the review opportunity!