Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Here and Now by Ann BrasharesThe Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Published by Delacorte Press on April 8, 2014
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

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.

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 left me feeling more conflicted than any other book I’ve ever read. That probably sounds like a giant exaggeration, but it’s not. While the writing was bland and stiff and I didn’t like the main character, Prenna, I loved the plot and the terrifying future that felt like an all too-real possibility. Not to mention the fact that, though it was a short read (clocking in at 242 pages), I couldn’t put it down and finished it in six hours – a record for me. I can’t remember the last time I finished a book that fast.

I didn’t like or connect with Prenna for about 90% of the book. I don’t have a specific reason why, and I didn’t hate her by any means. But I can’t think of one single thing she did that made me like her, feel for her, worry about her, etc. She was a bland person who always skated along – either she was following along with her “community” to stay out of trouble, or she was following along with what “Ben” wanted her to do in order to stay alive. She wasn’t really pro-active about anything.

But then, near the end of the book, she did several things that finally made her come alive. The first time she did something that stood out, I was impressed and thought maybe I’d grow to like her. And then the second time? She did something so awesome, my whole opinion about her changed. Though I doubt I’d like her any better if I were to re-read the book, knowing what I know now, I do feel like I would understand her better, at the very least. And I absolutely feel she went through some major character growth from the beginning to the end.

I don’t know how I feel about Ethan, honestly. He had a few great lines and he was kind of adorable, too. I think the relationship he had with Prenna moved a little bit too fast, though. It wasn’t exactly insta-love, but there was something about it that just felt too… quick. Too much, too soon. I also didn’t really like them together and I didn’t buy the chemistry between them. And then the ending… Well, that still broke my heart a little bit. But I understand why it happened.

I had a theory about who “Ben” was almost immediately upon being introduced to him. It was completely obvious and that took some of the fun out of it, but I was really excited when I got the confirmation that I was right. Also, there was one huge twist that I DIDN’T see coming, so that countered the fact that I figured out the twist with “Ben” so early on. I also liked Katherine, though we didn’t learn too much about her. Prenna’s mother was intriguing too, but I can’t explain why without a spoiler.

Though the future Prenna grew up in was horrifying, I also found it fascinating – especially some of the technology and science we learned about. Some of it seemed insane and silly, but some of it also sounded so plausible, like it could actually happen at some point in the near future – and I emphasize the word “near.”

As I mentioned earlier, despite all the negatives about this one, I finished it in six hours. I started it at 9pm and finished it at 3am. I pretty much couldn’t put it down. Though I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I hoping, I found myself fascinated by the story, desperate to see how things played out. For the most part, I’m satisfied with how it ended, though I wouldn’t have minded an epilogue, showing the future Prenna came from and whether or not it had changed for better or worse. I’m pretty sure this was a stand-alone, though, and if it is, it definitely wrapped up nicely. Almost everything was explained, so I don’t feel like I have a million unanswered questions – but there was just enough left unanswered that my mind is free to wander and wonder a bit.

Overall, The Here and Now was an interesting read. I’m not sorry I read it, though I wouldn’t re-read it and I don’t think I’d go out of my way to recommend it. But I do think people should give it a chance – what I didn’t like, others might love. Do I think this should be a series? No, not really. Would I read a sequel? Possibly, depending on the plot. Am I satisfied enough with where it ended, if it IS a stand-alone? Absolutely.


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