the here and now

The Here and Now – Ann Brashares

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“Sometimes I only hear what we don’t say. I only think the things I shouldn’t think and I remember what I should forget.”

” ‘For now people are thrilled about everything digital, endless data forms, your own piece of the cloud and all that. Nobody has much respect for paper at the moment, but I think the excitement kind of dies down after a while,’ I tell him. ‘As time goes on I think people, definitely my father, come back around to respect the power of actual things you can actually touch.’ ”

“Maybe it isn’t corruption or greed that makes you cowardly. Maybe it’s not weakness, suffering or even fear. Maybe it is love.”

 

Once upon a time, I loved the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. I think most girls of my generation will agree that they were some of the better and more realistic (despite the whole magic pants thing) novels for our age group at the time. The characters were all strong, even in their weaknesses, and they felt very well developed and authentic. It’s because of my nostalgia for the books about sacred jeans that I was especially excited to read The Here and Now, also by Ann Brashares, which is to be released on April 8th.

Prenna James is a seventeen year old immigrant to the United States, except she hasn’t immigrated from another country, she’s come from another time. In the year 2090 we have led our planet into such a place of ruin that its inhabitants can no longer survive, and decide to send 1000 of their best and brightest back in time to recolonize the world in 2010. Of course, in order for the colony to survive they must follow a strict set of rules in order to keep their existence a secret from the ‘natives’, AKA the people that are really from that time period. They can never reveal their true identities, they can never try to change history, and they can never be intimate with anyone outside of their colony of time travelers. Obviously, in true dramatic narrative fashion, all of these rules are broken when Prenna falls in love with another senior named Ethan, and the two set off a timeline domino effect by being together.

While the book started out strong, I’m very sorry to say that it didn’t finish that way… at all. Yikes.

None of the characters felt very well thought out. Prenna and Ethan have this whole love-at-first-sight-based-on-nothing thing going on that I think is awful in young adult books (actually, any book) because it sets up some seriously unrealistic expectations. There are so many holes in the plot I had difficulty following along (from big things like the time travel issues not lining up, to small things like characters using other characters names without having been introduced first; see chapter nineteen), and the motivation behind everything anyone does is convoluted at best. If you only have three (or was it two? or maybe four? I was never quite sure) days to save the world, why are you playing cards for hours on the beach, debating about whether or not to have sex and drinking sangria illegally? This is difficult for me to say, because I had high hopes for this book, but it feels like the author wasn’t sure if she wanted to write a really well thought out time travel piece, or a coming of age story about two star crossed teens. Instead she’s done both, and she’s done both poorly. And the ending? Don’t even get me started on the ending.

All that being said, I did really enjoy the letters scattered throughout the book from Prenna to her deceased brother Julius, describing her perception and understanding of our world today. She has a specific observation I found interesting about how kids today would rather sit inside playing video games than go outside and use their imaginations, which is totally foreign to her as in the future that she is from, the kids dream of being able and allowed to go outdoors. I also found the ‘history’ of how the next 75 years will supposedly play out for humanity to be extremely thought provoking, as most of it is grounded in the truth of issues we are actually dealing with today. Our potential future is terrifying if we don’t start making some necessary changes today.

 

Unfortunately, I would advise against reading this one, as much as I wish I could say otherwise.

 

Until next time,

The OMPP.