Will Bryan and Robert agree to disagree on The Here and Now by Ann Brashares? Only time will tell.
Bryan’s quick summary:
Prenna James is a time traveler. Her, her family, and others from her time live on the outskirts of the present day after escaping from a future where a mosquito-borne illness has taken the form of a plague. Prenna and the others follow strict rules to never interfere with history, never reveal their origin, and to never, ever be intimate with the time natives. When Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves, all rules go out the window, and a race to stop a catastrophe is thrown into action.
The Here And Now is by Ann Brashares
So what did we think? (From a reader’s perspective)
1. (Bryan) Our first time travel book! Let’s face it, there are some holes in this book, as there are in any books with time travel, but I thought it was really enjoyable. I was compelled to see what happened, given the underlying mystery of how the plague began and how Prenna’s father fit in.
2. (Robert) There are a few “hard to believe scenes” (that no one realizes the glasses are tracking them, or rebels against the leaders when it seems obvious they are only controlling and not trying to fix anything), but it serves to justify Prenna’s motivation for justice, and to find out what happened to her father.
It’s a sweet yet thrilling story, which makes this one a little different from the standard YA fantasy genre (it’s sci-fi obviously). The relationship between Prenna and Ethan is really well done and we feel Prenna’s dilemma along with her sense that something isn’t right.
I liked the way the backstory was drip-fed – no flashbacks or heavy-handed explanations.
3. (Bryan) At the end, I’m interested in reading more about these characters, and while it isn’t planned as a series, I think that’s a sign of a story well told. Leave them wanting more.
What did we think from a writer’s perspective?
1. (Bryan) Maybe more details in general would’ve given the world more flavor. I know Amazon reviews weren’t kind to this one, so maybe that’s part of the issue folks have had.
2. (Robert) This is a story that is stronger in feelings and relationships than plot (which might be a little transparent and weak in places). The reader forgives this because the writing style is strong (none of the “trying too hard” or adverb-heaviness here) and the pace is hot.
3. (Robert) The author appears to be pushing a theme (that the human race is in danger of destroying our planet unless we change our behaviors), which although it didn’t bother me too much, is definitely front and center of this book. Younger audiences would identify with this, but maybe for a later teenage YA reader it could feel too preachy?
Bryan and Robert’s Famous Takeaways:
1. Though the premise is pure sci-fi (time travel), this is a straight thriller, with a puzzle to solve.
2. Flesh out all your characters to provide a 3-D world.
3. I (Robert) fully expected a Hollywood ending, since much the plot of the thriller follows a formula (a good one) and I was pleasantly surprised by the resolution. A fun read!
Prompt of the Week:
Imagine that you had to live by Prenna’s strict rules. Would you be likely to rebel? Why or why not?