Friday, March 28, 2014

ARC Review: The Here and Now - Ann Brashares

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Genre: YA, time travel, romance
Published on April 8, 2014
Published by Delacorte Press
Pages: 288
Read From: 3.20.14 - 3.21.14

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.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I’m not a big fan of the cover art; it’s a little boring. I wouldn’t have picked it up it wasn’t a YA ARC.

Characters: I started out liking Prenna. She was curious and stubborn and wouldn’t accept what the “authorities” told her. She discovered the truth on her own, and didn’t give up until she learned it. She didn’t do anything especially idiotic and she behaved rationally. But as the story progressed, I just didn’t care about her – or anyone. It’s not that Prenna had a personality change; as far as I could tell, she didn’t. The romance just got in the way of – well, everything. Ethan, too, was a really nice guy whose affection for Prenna seemed genuine. He also had some very convenient skills that weren’t really explained (more on that later). Mr. Robert wasn’t much of a villain, though I’m not sure he really was supposed to be one.

The Romance: It didn’t feel rushed, because Prenna and Ethan have known each other for quite a while. So there was a solid friendship there. Their attachment, even, was sweet and I thought that I was going to get really involved in their emotions. I didn’t. Where did it go wrong? Halfway through the book, the romance just took over, and suddenly the whole “Earth is in danger if you don’t fix this one event in time!” plot became so amazingly secondary to Ethan and Prenna’s trying not to have sex that I was downright gobsmacked.

Plot: Prenna is part of a group of time travelers who have come back to the year 2014 in an attempt to save themselves – and the world – from the future that’s in store for them. A future full of plagues and diseases and a damaged environment (oh yes, I’ll have plenty more to say about that later). They live in a very tightknit community with strict rules about interacting with “time natives” – people who are supposed to be living in the year 2014. But Prenna’s close friendship with Ethan – a time native – is causing her to question every rule the leaders of the community have taught her. And as she questions, she learns that there is one event in history – one very specific event – that, if it’s not stopped, will create the future she came from. And no one in the community is doing anything to prevent it. The first half of The Here and Now is good. As I was reading it, I kept wondering why so many bloggers were fussing about it. Prenna wasn’t stupid, Ethan was cool, the community was intriguing, and the plot moved at a good pace. Then I hit Page 101, and it quite literally did a backflip. Suddenly all Ethan and Prenna are doing is hanging out on the beach, talking about why Prenna can’t have sex with him, and Ethan admiring her in sarongs and bathing suits. Um, guys, aren’t you trying to stop an event that will change the course of history? Do you seriously have time for this? I don’t think so!

Believability: The community is very closed. They monitor everyone 24/7 and they “take care” of dissenters. I would have liked to learn more about the community. Now about Ethan, the boy who possesses some amazing skills. I can accept that he can use a glass cutter – it’s not necessarily a hard thing to learn. I can even accept that he’s a super-awesome hacker, but I would I have liked that particular skill to be explained more. Where did he learn it? His hacker skills just seem to appear right when he and Prenna need them. The one thing I couldn’t believe was his planting a tracker on Prenna’s shoe. What, did he just buy one at the store? Does he carry them around in his pocket just in case?

Writing Style: First person, present tense. It was nothing special, and the Author didn’t flesh out the world as much as she could have.

Content: 4 s-words

Conclusion: This is what really killed The Here and Now for me. I could have grudgingly accepted the romance and Ethan’s awesome skills, but I could not ignore the eco-mentalist psycho-babble. Prenna’s world is a result of oil tycoons destroying the ecosystem and global warming and toxic bug spray. Just give me a break from the global warming mantra. I’m sick to the teeth of Authors injecting political opinions into their works. It just makes it feel preachy and in-your-face. The Here and Now starts out deceptively good. But as soon as you hit the over-100-pages mark (quite literally), it all goes downhill.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, great for fans who like futures affected by global warming.

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