Friday, April 4, 2014

ARC Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Title: The Here and Now
Author: Ann Brashares
Published: April 8, 2014 by Random House

Synopsis: 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 received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. My opinion has not been affected by this fact***

I had high hopes for this book. I'm a fan of Ann Brashares' work and her writing style. I've read all the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books and My Name is Memory, an interesting SciFi love story kind of book. This book had definite vibes from that book, which I liked, so I was very excited for a new Ann Brashares book and to read her take on dystopia. And while I was entertained by The Here and Now, I didn't love it, in fact there were a lot of things I didn't like.

My first problem was the characters. I started out liking the main character of Prenna. She was
stubborn, reckless, and stood up for what she believed in. But after awhile her recklessness came off as pure stupidity. I found myself wanting to scream at her "WHY DID YOU THINK THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA!" She was not the strong female protagonist I was hoping for. The real hero of the story seemed to be Ethan. Prenna came off as a damsel in distress and Ethan was always there to rescue her. But it all came off as incredibly convenient most of the time. There was very little character exposition especially when it came to Ethan. We were told things about him and all these special skills he seemed to have but only when they seemed handy to developing the plot or to save Prenna. Most of the plot was contingent on these lucky breaks and characteristics of Ethan that we would only just learned about. It was all too convenient and frankly annoying!

Another problem for me was the romance. A lot of the plot was also related to the idea that Prenna and Ethan had this deep connection and attraction and I just didn't feel it. Now don't get me wrong, I liked their interactions. I liked them as friends but I didn't feel the romantic connection. It honestly felt like an example of how fiction, and YA in general, feels like it has to have a romantic aspect. I could have lived without there being romance and I may have even liked the book better. 

But what redeemed this book a lot was the world-building. This is the kind of book that reminded me as a reader that dystopia is a subgenre of Science Fiction. Technology and a terrifying view of the future is very much a part of the plot of the book. The world seemed incredibly well thought-out. Ann Brashares took technology that has been created or is in the process as well as cultural things happening today and imagined how they would affect the world in 65 years. It was terrifying and mostly because it seemed possible. The other terrifying part of this world was the society the "travelers" had created. It was like a classic overprotective dystopian society but in our time period. The characters were creepy and it made the world so interesting. 

And despite the lack of development and all too convenient ways to move everything along the plot wasn't totally awful. There was enough action and mystery to keep me interested throughout much of the story. When everything was over I was left with a feeling of satisfaction. Despite many problems it was actually an enjoyable book.

I give The Here and Now by Ann Brashares a 7.5 out of 10

I would recommend this book to fans of dystopia and to people looking for a likely and terrifying view of the future. If you don't mind insta-love or care if your female protagonists serve as a strong hero then check this book out. If those things bother you then this is not the book for you.
Have you read The Here and Now? What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment and of course... HAPPY READING!


  1. I requested this book and I hope I get a copy soon. It sounds so good! New follower here :)

    If you get a chance, stop by my blog and follow as well!

    Chelsey@Charming Chelsey’s

  2. I hope you enjoy reading The Here and Now. It comes out tomorrow so if you don't get a review copy definitely get it from the bookstore or library!

    Thanks for stopping by and following!