The Here and Now by Ann Brashares Review

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Title: The Here and Now
Author: Ann Brashares (Twitter)
Publisher: Delacorte
Publish Date: April 8, 2014
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher

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.
There is something innately alluring about a tale of love in a time of supreme desperation. It's the type of story that offers readers a glimpse at forbidden romance, drama, sacrifice, pain, loss and love conquering all. So, without a doubt, if you add a science fiction element to the story, I'm most definitely completely captivated by this story. Ann Brashares is well known for her story, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and I remember the feelings and emotions I felt while reading that book well. She has this innate ability to make readers feel for and connect with her characters, so giving us a world outside our own seemed to be just the icing on the cake for me.

The Here and Now features the same fluid and easy writing style that Ms. Brashares is known for. Rather than offer us flowery prose with no meat behind it, we have a story that's cleverly written, honest, descriptive and beautifully insightful. More than once, a singular line would stand on in mind has truly deep and thoughtful - something that heightened the story and the overarching theme of love and survival in a broken society. These hidden passages added a layer of depth to the story that might have otherwise been lacking, and I most definitely appreciated the honest, powerful prose within the pages.

I must admit, however, that I struggled a bit with Prenna's character. From the start, we meet a girl who has a rebellions streak a mile wide. Her actions land her in imprisonment very quickly, which we can't help but find unsurprising. Yet, in another streak of fairly unsurprising events, Prenna is back out and attempting to change their broken world. I'll admit that I couldn't help but feel that that character arc was a little superfluous, if only because it was so fleeting, and we found ourselves pretty much back where we began with Prenna and Ethan anyway. Ethan, too, was a bit of a difficult one for me. Though I felt like we had a strong overview of his circumstances, we never really quite got to know him, and that frustrated me. I knew I was supposed to be completely invested in Prenna and Ethan's plight, but I felt more interested in the general setup of the world instead.

The setup of The Here and Now was solid, and I'll admit that I was extremely surprised that Ms. Brashares created such a complex world when all I'd ever seen from her before was a feel-good contemporary story. However, we're given two very distinct worlds - a broken present society and a disease-ravaged future society - both of which seem cold and bleak. The time travel element most certainly added a layer of drama to an otherwise fairly solid dystopian world, as well. However, I must say that I believe this fantastic setup and backdrop actually overshadowed our characters in the end. Instead of feeling that strong bond and connection with Prenna and Ethan, I felt as though they felt a bit flat, so we were left with an incredible world with characters we wanted more from. In fact, I think that, perhaps, there was so very much going on throughout the story that that's actually where we lost a bit of the depth.

In the end, I had mixed feelings about The Here and Now, though I think it was a solid story in general. I simply wanted a little more depth and a little less of the extras. I give it a very strong 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA fiction, especially those who enjoy dystopian stories with a science-fiction twist.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. Hmm..I'm not sure what to think of this one, Melissa. I like the set up for the story but I still get the feeling like it's your ordinary scifi dystopia and don't really add anything new to the over-saturated subgenre. I will pass the recommendation along to my teens who can't get enough of dystopia to hold them over until the Divergent and Mockingjay movies come out.

    1. It was a tricky one for me, Rummanah. I felt like it had ALL the potential in the world to surpass its predecessors, but it almost tried a little too hard, if that makes sense?

  2. The world in this one sounds absolutely fantastic Melissa, so much so that it clearly highlights the fact that the characters aren't quite strong enough to hold their own against it in terms of reader interest. No matter how amazing the world building is, if I can't connect to the characters or they're a touch flat, I just can't get into the story. Glad that despite Prenna and Ethan not being as complex as the world in which they live it was a solid read for you though:)

  3. Mixed does make me wonder if it would be a fit for me

  4. I've put off reading this because so many of the reviews have had negative things to say about it. I'm not sure I want to spend my time with a mediocre book when I could be reading something awesome, you know?
    It doesn't sound like the characters are developed in too much depth, and that's usually important to me when it comes to books.
    I'm glad you liked the world though, Melissa. Lovely review!

  5. 3.5 stars is still a decent rating, and a rating that I am glad to see actually, as the ratings and reviews for this book haven't been that great, which is a real shame, as I adored Brashares My Name is Memory and was hoping to get a memorable read from this book too. It does seem like Brashares did decide to include quite a bit in this book, so I could see what the characters lacked in comparison. But overall I'm still excited to give this book a go! Thanks again for another lovely review Melissa!

  6. I've seen that most readers have struggled, at least a bit, with this one and I definitely feel as if I'd come out of this novel with mixed feelings, so I think I'll skip it for now. Thanks for such a helpful review, Melissa!

  7. The characters sound like they might really frustrate me but I'm intrigued by the whole 12 Monkeys kind of idea that someone can go back in time to change the future. I have this on my Kindle but have been nervous to read it!

  8. Thanks for the honest review! I have only read Brashare's contemporary novels (Sisterhood series!), so it's a little strange to think of her as a dystopian/sci-fi novelist. I am a sucker for time travel though, so I may have to check this one out.

  9. I went into this one having never read her Sisterhood series, but I'd heard her name being hailed around the blogosphere, so I was disappointed when I read this and didn't really enjoy it. I'm glad you found it more enjoyable, though! From Brashares's writing style, I can tell she can be a good writer; The Here And Now just didn't work for me!

  10. Brashares' writing style sounds amazing. Prenna sounds a bit frustrating, though...

    Thanks for your honest thoughts! Great review :)

  11. I'm really curious about THE HERE AND NOW. I've read Brashares' other novels, but this one feels different for sure. I'm glad to see that her signature writing style remains the same, and am curious to see how I feel about her venture into the sci-fi world.


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