Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Here And Now by Ann Brashares

The Here And Now by Ann Brashares
Release Date - April 8, 2014
Publisher Website - Random House Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 288 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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. 
I knew the bare minimum going into The Here and Now. I knew it involved time travel, and romance. Both of these ended up being true. It also has some decent world building, and a mystery that ends in a race to save the world as the clock runs down. This ended up being a novel that had things I really liked, and things I wished were explored more.

The novel starts out incredibly strong. The first few chapters pulled me in, set the tone, and captivated me. The world of Prenna's people is fascinating. The strict, rigid rules they have to follow. The swift, unforgiving consequences of breaking them. They live in absolutes, but nothing is ever that easy. The danger she is in is palpable, and undeniable. As a reader, I felt the unease Prenna would feel. It's one of my personal favourite aspects of the novel.

Prenna's life has been filled with rules, and fear. Her minor acts of rebellion quickly turn into larger ones. She is someone that is driven to do the right thing, even if it's the harder choice. She doesn't sit back and accept what is told to her. She showed early on that she was not only questioning everything she had been told, but that she was actively willing to defy it. It's her strong moral compass that endeared her to me. She didn't back down, even if it meant she'd die. She was willing to pay that price for her convictions, and to help better the world for others.

There is a cautionary environmental element to the plot that, for me, seemed heavy handed at time. It's something that we need to discuss, and having it examined in this way was an interesting idea. I think, however, that it didn't quite work for me. It felt like it was presented in a strictly black and white manner, instead of the complex reality of the situation. 

The mystery Prenna has to unravel, and the eventual race to save the world was done rather well. Little clues are peppered throughout the story, and we learn things at a nice pace. I wish it had been slightly more layered, and that we spent more time on the 'why' of everything. Everything is laid out, but it felt a little too rushed, and almost as a afterthought to the romance itself.

The romance is certainly swoon worthy. Ethan is not only incredibly sweet, but is relentlessly supportive. He is there for Prenna, and anything she needs. Seeing his unwavering support made the romance even sweeter, because he lets her see the strength she has inside. He helps her see that she has the ability to stand up for what she believes in, and do what she feels is right. He believes in her, and because she's not used to having that, it helps her see things in a new perspective. The consequences of them being together are real, and the reality is that happily ever after may not be in the cards. The 'star crossed' aspect of their romance was fleshed out more than I was expecting, as the novel tackles what harm them being together could do. This plot point is resolved in an unusual way, and left me wondering if this perhaps might be the start of a series. 

The promising ending was contrasted with what, I felt, is a weaker lead up to that ending. The pacing felt off towards the end, and things were quickly tied up without the build up I wanted. Not everything is neat and tidy by the end and that felt right for this particular story. I wanted more from it though, especially some elements outside of the romance. The promising threads of certain story lines were not developed as much as they could have been, and it lead, for me, to a unsatisfying later half. The ending itself wrapped up the novel in a surprising, yet honest way. 

A novel whose romance easily swept me away, but left me wanting a little more on the plot side of things. All the elements were there, but I feel the novel to be fleshed out just a little bit more, particularly with the second half. Ann Brashares writing style is evident throughout, so fans of hers will certainly delight in this aspect of the novel.

1 comment:

  1. I love Ann Brasheres' writing and I am really excited to read this just because it is from her. But I have heard some differing opinions on the story, especially being so different from what I am used to from her. Though what people enjoy about this story has me intrigued and wanting to read it!


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