I read The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants a while ago, and I remember loving it. I was obviously curious to discover how Ann Brashares could write on the dystopia genre, and I have to admit, sadly, that I was a little disappointed. The Here and Now has a great, imaginative concept, but which was poorly carried all thorough the book. Here’s why.
“We follow our scripts like actors in a very large, very long production. And even with no audience, none of us gives a hint that it isn’t real.”
Seventeen-year-old Prenna emigrated to New York a few years ago. She goes to high school, makes friends – at least, made one friend-, lives with her mother, has homework…an ordinary teenage life. Except one little detail : she didn’t emigrate from another country, but from another time. She came from a future in ruins, threatened by The Plague, a mortal disease. Along with other fellow time-travellers, Prenna came back in 2014 to change things. To try and make the future better. I have to say, while reading this plot, I was intrigued. Time-travelling stories aren’t usually my cup of tea, but I wanted to try this one out, to see what Ann Brashares could be capable of, in the dystopia genre. I was also curious about the concept of this story, time travelling, and how it would be described in this story. This was my greatest disappointment. This whole idea of time-travelling to save the world, to prevent some big mistake, was really good, at first. However, thorough my read, I was always waiting, wishing, hoping for more, a more that never came. How time travel happened, why, maybe thorough flashbacks or something, would have been really great. I would have loved more insight into the future, and the past, to be a little more aware of the dangers if things are not changing. Sadly, there was nothing of that. Mostly, the plot lacked a little bit of consistance, for me. I felt the same way about the characters.
Prenna is a teenager, and the main character of this story. Obviously, as she’s a time traveller, she can be a little awkward at times, and she doesn’t know all the tricks to the 2014 world. She has no idea how to play cards, and she acts a little out of place, a lot of times during this book. I didn’t mind, at first, I found it very accurate: after all, given her special condition, if I can say, it’s only normal she’s a little weird. That’s mainly what I felt about her…and being the main character, you can say I was disappointed by her. I could understand Prenna, her motives, her feelings, but I couldn’t care as much as I wanted to. She was just, flat, I would have liked to know more about her, about her brother, her past -well, future…I’m not sure if you’re following?. The only moments I felt connected to her, was when she talked about her brother. There, I kind of started to feel something towards this character, compassion, maybe. And then, it was gone. I felt the same way about Prenna than about the plot : great ideas, but lacked of depth, and maybe it could have been more developped.
“When you open yourself to somebody, when you feel these thing that you feel, well, what do you do? You can try to ignore it, maybe you can try to forget about it, but you can’t undo it and you can’t give it back.”
I need to make a quick point about the romance in this book, because yes, there is a love story. Prenna falls in love with Ethan, a time native, as they’re called in the book: it means Ethan didn’t come from the future, he’s like you and I. Obviously, it’s against the rules, because in dystopia books, there are always rules. This whole relationship seemed, compared to the plot of the book, completely rushed. Ethan and Prenna have this insta-love kind of thing, and it bothered me. However, they did have some great interactions, but, as I couldn’t care for the main character, I didn’t really root for their relationship that much. It made me sad, a bit, because this held so many potential, too. Ethan’s character is a seventeen-year-old normal guy, he likes sciences a lot, and plans to make a living out of this. This part of him could have been brought up a lot more into the story, and made it really interesting. Sadly, it was just a not-enough-used background to the character.
The whole story was a little too slow for my taste. Even though I am not one to read only action-packed novels, I like it when there are moments of action, tempered with slower times of deeper discussions or intense moments. However, I felt like the slow moments dragged on during this story, and the real action, well…it was a little too tempered for my taste, too. I kept waiting for a big moment to happen, and, to be honest, I am still waiting.
I know, you’ve been reading lots of disappointment from me about this book during the last lines. However, The Here and Now still holds a great concept, and some great ideas of characters, and the hint of a plot line you have to guess, more than to read, and be carried on by it. Ann Brashares still knows how to write a book, and some great conversations between the protagonists were well written, however, I just felt like it was kind of, disconnected. The whole writing of the story was detached to any emotion, which totally prevented me from getting attached to the characters a lot, and care for the whole story.
If you’re into time-travelling stories, maybe you can try The Here and Now, and make your own mind about it. This book wasn’t my cup of tea, and I think Ann Brashares was way better at writing contemporary than dystopia. However, if the synopsis rings a bell, then try it! I would love to see if you felt any different than I did, and most importantly, what did the trick for you to like it…or not.
Ann Brashares, The Here and Now, Published by Delacorte Press, April 8th 2014.
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.