Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
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.
The Here and Now is the latest novel by Ann Brashares, who is famous for giving us The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. This books clocks in as surprising in a couple of ways. First, it's sci-fi. Other than a little foray into fantasy with 2010's My Name is Memory, Brashares is known for contemporary writing. Secondly, it's short. at just around 250 pages, it's a thin little book, especially for a science fiction novel with complex premise.
This book was up and down for me. On the one hand, I very much like the character of Prenna. I like Ethan too. I enjoyed their love story. However, I felt we didn't get to have enough time with the characters -- I wanted to see a little more of them falling in love! I know that the time constraints in the book are short, but I still wanted to see more of their relationship grow.
The concept and the plot are interesting, and, as is expected with a book the messes with time, the ending is always different than you think. I didn't see the particulars or the details of the end coming, and I like books that manage to surprise me, so I was happy that this managed to do so even though it was short.
The biggest issue I had with this book were issues of consent. In the course of their love story, Prenna makes it very clear to Ethan that she wants to take it slow. And while it is clear to the audience that Ethan would never take advantage of Prenna, he still pushes the issue. He continues to touch her intimately even when she's told him to stop. He tells her how much he wants to be intimate with her repeatedly, even begging and saying he would die happy if they would just have sex. Given the fact that she made her boundaries clear, this is something that I really could have lived without.
All in all I enjoyed the book, though I wished it were longer and we got to see more facets of the characters lives.