Friday, June 13, 2014

Teen/YA Review: The Here and Now

Author Ann Brashares, best known for her super-popular Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books, has a new YA novel out that is completely different than her previous novels. The Here and Now has a time travel plot and a decidedly sci fi focus, though it still involves realistic, likeable characters and even some romance.

Seventeen –year old Prenna immigrated to the metro New York area when she was twelve, but she didn’t come from another country. She came from the future, a bleak future where the earth has been decimated by plagues. She and the other members of her inclusive community all traveled back through time to our present in order to survive and start fresh. Although they live among normal contemporary citizens, Prenna’s people are governed by a strict set of rules to avoid the classic dangers of time travel – making harmful changes to the past or letting anyone in the present know what happens in the future. They must not tell anyone where (when) they are really from or interfere in any way with the normal course of history. But the rule Prenna is struggling with the most is to never get close to anyone or be intimate with anyone in any way. It’s hard to go through high school without any close friends.

Prenna has always tried to follow the rules, but things begin to change as she gets to know Ethan, a boy in her class. As Ethan tries to get close to her and get to know her better, Prenna struggles to remain aloof and not give anything away, but Ethan already knows more than Prenna realizes. I don’t want to say much more about the plot because there are a lot of surprises and suspense in this novel.

I was pulled in by this unique story immediately and enjoyed listening to the audio production. I love any novel that has to do with time travel, and this one was especially engaging. The scary future that Prenna comes from was quite believable to me. The plagues that killed so many people came from mosquito-carried diseases that increased exponentially as the climate changed and became more hot and wet. Coming from a family who has battled Lyme disease for many years, it wasn’t hard for me to believe that insect-borne diseases could be humans’ downfall!

While the plot is unique and compelling, Brashares also provides characters with depth and realism. I liked both Prenna and Ethan right away and cared about what happened to them. I think teens will especially like the thread of romance throughout the book, as the two get closer and get to know each other better. However, this novel is also full of action and suspense, as Prenna and Ethan uncover secrets and attempt nothing less than saving the world. It’s fast-paced but also thought-provoking and entirely entertaining from beginning to end.

Listening Library

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