Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Here and Now

Prenna James immigrated to New York at the age of twelve from the future. Present day New York is heaven to her: the air is breathable; nature is flourishing; humanity thrives. Her reality includes an epidemic transmitted by mosquito that has killed millions with no cure in sight. Prenna and those like her adhere to a strict set of rules to ensure that they don't influence their own past: never interfere with history; don't reveal yourself to a time native (someone from the present time); don't become intimate with a time native. These last couple of rules become particularly hard when she falls for Ethan Jarves, who saw her when she arrived in his time. Maybe the rules aren't really there for their protection, but to keep them complacent and allow their future to become as horrible as it is.

The Here and Now features a society within our own of people from a horrific future. I found this to be the most interesting part of the book. The society is very insular because of the strict list of rules. Every aspect of their lives are investigated and studied for signs of insubordination or defiance by the authorities. Although they are encouraged to blend in in their daily lives, it's hard when you aren't allowed to get close to any of the time natives. The characters in the book are very flat. The authorities are only evil with no redeeming qualities. I find this to be lazy writing because there's no way for them to be relatable in any way when they are just evil. The main characters are slightly less flat, but only barely. These characters were at least likeable, but there was no nuance or layer to them and their romance was the product of instalove.

The biggest problem I had was with the time travelling. Two futures exist in the novel. One character remembers the idyllic future while the rest of the time travelers remember the horrific future. How does this make any sense? There are newspapers that describe the horrific future, which the main couple uses to see if changed events follow them. How would the papers even exist  describing a different time line if they had changed the future? There is no attempt at explaining how they time travel. The logic employed here is dizzying and illogical. I had to consciously suspend disbelief in order to get through the book.

The Here and Now unfortunately did not live up to my expectations. I know Ann Brashares can be a good writer, but it seems as if she thought it was necessary to dumb down plots and characters for a teen audience. The product is a mess and far inferior than her previous work. I am not interested in continuing the series.

My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins

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