The Here and Now – Ann Brashares

Synopsis

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

Thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking, The Here and Now is a twenty-first-century take on an impossible romance. Ann Brashares’ first novel for teens since The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is 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.

Meet 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 she falls for Ethan Jarves.

Review

Beautiful. Ann Brashares is a breath of fresh air. I’ve loved her since The Sisterhood, and while this is a totally different genre and approach, it’s still wonderful.

This is a cautionary tale about the future. There are so many out there, but they all fall into the same dystopian tropes. Now imagine a repressive quasi-dystopian society taking place in the present, among people who live freely. This book makes me think of North Korea, Cuba, and other regimes that take place today. What’s stopping them from liberating?

This book covers so much, but in a very subtle way. Climate change is a huge issue, leading to a near-apocalypse. It’s scary because mosquitoes already transfer diseases like Dengue Fever and West-Nile virus. This book also talks about file and data security, the permanence of paper, materialism and excess (especially obesity), vanity and superficialism, the hazards of constant surveillance (not necessarily as a caution to the public about blind obedience, but the consequences of having everything documented and accessible), greed, the butterfly effect, and the consequences of carelessness (or recklessness, rather). Each and every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

On a personal level, it’s a book about love. This book discusses the importance of sacrifice, it provides hope, it suggests that people are truly meant to be together — regardless of obstacles like time, place, and fate. There was a HUGE event in the latter half of the book that threw me for a tailspin, and kept me at the edge of my seat. Wow.

I loved this book. I certainly love most of Ann’s work. This one was fresh, philosophical, and… cute, all at the same time.

Related Reading

  • Every Day – David Levithan
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – Ann Brashares
  • Books on time travel or prophetic dystopian worlds
  • Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (complacency, prophetic, overindulgence)

Rating: 5/5

Note: The Here and Now is available on April 8, 2014.

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