Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

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I received this book for free from Random House Children's Books 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 8th 2014
Genres: Sci-Fi, Time-Travel, YA
Source: Random House Children's Books
Buy on Amazon

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.

What a disappointment. And an unexpected one since I was such a fan of her Sisterhood in the Traveling Pants series (which rocked my socks off!). I didn’t dislike this one right away; at first I was very much into it. We start by learning of their dystopian-like community that has formed in the past (our present), after having escaped from a plague ravaged future. A future that is, quite frankly, not at all unrealistic, making it all the more terrifying. Once we get down to business, though, things go downhill fast. From underdeveloped characters, to random – often boring – plot detours, to unemotional insta-love romance.

Prenna starts out as a great character – stubborn and determined. She’s from a future where touching meant death, and is now controlled by a creepy leader that imposes secrecy and a sealed community. All is good until she starts making dumb decisions with such obvious outcomes, that I became quickly and completely frustrated. The kind of dumb decisions that would make you throw popcorn at the TV. Unsurprisingly, she gets imprisoned due to her own stupidity. I actually found this particular detour to be quite random, even useless in the overall story progression. She gets caught, imprisoned, saved, then we end up exactly at the same place we were with nothing changed. It felt as if pages were added just to reach a word quota.

Now on to Ethan, the love interest and savior. This guy is whatever the plot needs him to be. Can he quietly and efficiently cut glass to break Prenna out of prison like some modern day criminal? While yes, yes he can. Did he somehow procure and think to implant a tiny tracker in her shoe in case she gets imprisoned? Who wouldn’t? Is he a hacker/programmer when they need to recover world-ending scientific data? Duh! Who is this guy? These are not the only conveniences throughout, either. They randomly find wads of cash tucked in with all the information they need to solve this mystery, left by the last person who tried. And don’t even get me started on time travel logic which is completely ignored. The grandfather paradox proves especially problematic to my brain. *twitch*

So these two kids have 2 (or was it 3?) days to stop the end of the world, but instead of putting their time and energy on actually… saving the world, they go to the beach, lounge on the sand, drink sangria, relax in hotel rooms, talk awkwardly about having sex, make detours to a school to reminisce on her past, play cards and cards and then more cards. Yawn! Sex is brought up more than once too, often through innuendos and blasé-like in an old-married-couple kind of way. It felt so impassive. The romance in general lacked passion and depth. I did not feel this “meant-to-be” connection they apparently had. And even though he’s had a crush on her for years, and her on him, their love declarations felt hasty and unconvincing. Lastly, I didn’t buy the ending where a teenager “gives it to the man”.

Obviously I had my share of problems with this one, but there were a couple things I liked. The plausibility of the future, for one, made what Prenna lived through plenty horrifying. I also liked her letters to Julius that are scattered throughout, describing her reactions to our ways of life that are weird and foreign to her. At the end of the day, these unfortunately did not make up for my overall annoyance.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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25 Responses to “Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares”

  1. Pili

    I’m so sorry to hear this one didn’t work for you at all, Giselle!
    It sounds pretty interesting but it sucks that the execution doesn’t seem as good.
    Thanks for your very honest review!

  2. Maya

    Oh, what a shame this didn’t work out for you 🙁 I really enjoyed her Travelling Pants books too, but I guess this is in a completely different genre – maybe she’s just better at writing contemporaries? Thanks for the review 🙂

  3. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    It’s always disappointing when an author you previously enjoyed produces a sucky book. It’s happened to be far too often.
    I was never really interested in this book because I’m sort of over dystopians at this point, but I can see that I made the right decision. The insta-love and the lack of passion in their relationship is just pushing me away further from it. Also, I’d be frustrated with how much time these kids waste instead of saving the world.
    Great review, Giselle!

  4. Alicia @ Summer Next Top Story

    I think I had a pretty good impression of this book from other reviews but all the things that you’ve pointed out makes me want to just *FACEPALM* at the raves. Umm. A stupid MC, convenient love interest, and a love story that overshadows the main plot. Ugh no thanks!! Thank you so much for the review, Giselle! =)

  5. Amanda @ Book Badger

    This is the second not so good review I’ve seen of this book today and I think it’s a shame because it sounds like it’d be a pleasant read, but obviously not. Those detours sound utterly annoying and I probably would have dnf’d it from the sounds of things. I’m glad I avoided this book, but I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it more Giselle. Here’s to the next read being better! 🙂

  6. Kelsey

    I think I would get frustrated at things just seeming to work out for them and being too convenient. I never read this authors other series that you mention, so I won’t have anything to base this on, but it still doesn’t sound like something I would enjoy too much. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  7. Bonnie

    Dude, if the world starts ending you will totally find me on the beach drinking some sangria too. Lol

    I was super excited for this one until I got to the last line of that blurb. Why do dystopians always have to have a damn love interest. They usually end up being so unnecessary to the story as a whole too. And it’s always about ‘everything went fine until BOB CAME ALONG.” Glad I skipped out on this one, but sorry it was a disappointment for you!

  8. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I don’t know about you but I put trackers in all by boyfriends’ shoes, just in case they do get imprisoned in some creepy future cult jail and I haven’t to break them out. Only sensible thing to do.

  9. Pamela DuMond

    Did you ever read her book — My Name is Memory? It wasn’t time travel, but a first cousin. It’s protagonist was young – college-age I believe. It was supposed to be a trilogy but I don’t think it sold all that well. That said it was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read about a love that transcended time. Do check it out.

  10. kimbacaffeinate

    *scratches it off wishlist* Dang Giselle I had high hopes for this and the world sounds creeptastic but the characters, insta-love and uh detours have me shaking my head and backing away slowly. Off topic..but have you read Anne Bishops Others series? Written in Red? Dude you would love it.

  11. Kayla @ The Thousand Lives

    I felt the exact same way about everything! I loved the first 10%, but then it just went downhill from there. The entire story was glazed over for me; there just wasn’t enough substance to make me care about the characters or issues. And without substance, I couldn’t ignore the awful time travel logic. I’m usually pretty good with that stuff, but this time I just kept thinking, “WHAT?”

  12. fishgirl182

    Sad that you didn’t like this one, Giselle. I have it on my e-reader but haven’t gotten it yet. The points you bring up sound valid though. One of my pet peeves is characters that are too convenient. Like the millionaire best friend or the friend who happens to do the one thing you need (pick locks, have a boat, whatever). It’s just too obvious. I’ll still give this one a chance though.

  13. Pamela D

    I was thinking about reading this book, but I am so glad that I didn’t, because it seems to be a big disappointment to everyone who read it. 🙁

  14. Jesse @ Pretty in Fiction

    I actually liked this one. All of your points totally apply, but I got caught up in the story to a point where I didn’t care about plot holes. I think it was a really pretty book on a really basic level. There wasn’t much to it, though.

  15. Sophia

    I actually received an invite for this and was like… Yeah… NOPE. But ew on sex innuendos. o-O

    But if the world were ending, I would be trying to speed read all books on my TBR pile. Which I would no doubt fail miserably.

  16. Faye @ The Social Potato

    So sorry, Giselle 🙁 Usually a 2 star is as good as a 1 star for me so I don’t think I’ll be reading this one. If I had 2 or 3 days to live, I’d spend those time living my final moments with my family. Something meaningful other than having sex and lazing around, doing nothing. That just sucks!! 😐 At least you took one for the team. Not wasting my time anymore!

  17. Alexa

    Aw that is too bad that you didn’t like this one. I really love The Sisterhood books so I was looking forward to this one.

    Thanks for the great review though!

  18. Anya

    Ahahaha, yeah I just can’t believe it when characters go have fun and get to know each other when the world is ending. I can barely relax when I have a paper deadline in a couple of days so there is no way I would be able to hang out on the beach and I end up just getting annoyed with the characters for being so wacko! I passed on this one and am thinking that was a good choice, thanks for barreling through it for us!

  19. Anatea

    I was so excited about this one, I’m so sorry you didn’t like it, and from your review, I guess I wouldn’t like it either. I don’t like illogical things and especially when it seems like author creates whatever is necessary for the plot to go on. Even though the world that Ann created sounds really intriguing and like something I would like and enjoy, I don’t think I’d be able to oversee all the other things that troubled you. I don’t think I will be reading this one. Great review Giselle!