Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Reading Level: Young Adult, 12+
Pages: 242 (ARC)
Source: Trade
An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

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.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I am going to be blunt here and state that the only nice thing about this book is the cover. Scratch that, the other nice thing about this book was that our main character happened to be Asian and I only know that because it mentioned something about how she gets her Asian features from her father or something along those lines. Aside from all that, this book is one huge pile of "what did I just read?!" It's such a shame because the concept of time travel in this book was totally interesting.

Part of the reason that it was so hard to get through this book was the writing. It was very flat and not that detailed. It did not explain very many things. I can immediately think of at least three instances where characters suddenly just knew the cause of a complicated plot they spent forever trying to figure out or the identity of a unknown person was suddenly obvious. This was incredibly frustrating to me as a reader. It was even more frustrating because it made an emotional attachment to the characters completely impossible, but that is also attributed to the fact that these two characters are very bland and, dare I say, among the most bland characters I have come across in a while.

Prenna James, our main character, does not have a backbone in the beginning of the story. The one aspect of her character arc that I enjoyed was the fact that she does have a backbone by the end of the story. She's very smart, but also very stupid because she doesn't exercise this awesome thing called common sense. She has all these ideas about how things are actually happening and she is often right, but she doesn't try to learn anything herself. She's also obsessed with Ethan from the very beginning of the book and insta-love and a major turn off for me.

And then there's Ethan. I absolutely hate characters like Ethan. Ethan is popular and he goes to parties and he is very smart. He's on the soccer team and is a brain wiz when it comes to computers and hacking (which of course isn't mentioned until it comes in handy) and instead of deciding to spend time with any of his many friends, he decides to run for his life with the weird girl that nobody really likes. In other words, he is perfect and unrealistic and I could barely tolerate him. This was made doubly horrible by the fact that he is obsessed with sex. I think my favorite quote from him reads, "If I could make love to you, I wouldn't mind if I died." Gag me, please. I cannot handle the false love. The world could potentially come to an end and all he cares about is getting laid even though Prenna feels uncomfortable with intimacy due to the strict rules she had to follow from the upbringing. Literally, he can die by having sex with her because of the immunities she has from the future and he doesn't care. I just wanted to shake him and tell him to use his brain. I could not even root for these two because of him.

This book also left me with a lot of questions. Nothing was rapped up properly. If someone is dead, how are they in a future newspaper? Why does Ethan just accept everything so easily? Any sane person would freak out. How could Prenna not recognize her father, even if he is a few years older? Why did the people who traveled back in time forget the few days before and after it? Why did it take so long for people from the future to realize how their government was controlling them because it was so obvious from the very beginning? Where did Prenna's best friend go? Honestly, the list goes on. There are just way too many questions...Made all the more frustrating by the fact that our main characters barely did any of their work and it was all actually done by someone else. They just put everything into motion.

And, lastly, the ending. I can't handle it. The first half of this book was very slow, but then things became interesting enough for me not to constantly put it down and the ending blew all of that up in my face. Ethan is still Ethan, Prenna is still Prenna only she has a backbone now. Molly came out of the woodwork a little bit. But really, the huge kicker is what happened with the people of the future's government. That is what made me want to throw the book against the wall. In a world where all characters but Kenobi and Molly belong in a loony bin, I shouldn't have expected anything less but frustrating insanity.

I don't really know what else to say. I will approach Brashares next novel with a little more skepticism and realistic expectations. I can only see younger audiences actually enjoying this. I was too preoccupied with the fact that a sex-crazed animal was in a book for twelve-year-olds. And boredom...there was unfortunately a lot of boredom.

 1 star



  1. I came across this book in amazon and I was really keen to read it but hadn't got around to it! What a shame cos the story line at least sounds like it could have been a great book. Thanks for the heads up!

    1. No problem. Unfortunately, the plot was there but the execution ruined it in my eyes.

  2. Thanks for the honest review! Sounds like I'll skip it!

    1. Who knows, you may enjoy it. This book was definitely not for me though!

  3. I JUST picked this one up from the library! That sucks that it's such a letdown.

    I have a complaint about Asian characters in YA, they're never 100% Asian! There is always some mention of their Asian features passing down from the mother/father's side.

    Thanks for your honesty!

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

    1. Very true about the Asian thing! Ellen Oh tends to write fully Asian characters, and Sarah Fine has an Asian-like country, world, and cast in OF METAL AND WISHES. Definitely check those out!

    2. I'll have to check her out! I need more diversity on my bookshelves.

      Amber Elise @ Du Livre

  4. I loved the Traveling Pants series and her other standalone. Unfortunately there are some many bad reviews about this one. Shame..

  5. Wow, this is so sad! I had heard a lot of negative reviews of this book, but your 1 star review just sealed the deal for me! It's disappointing because I liked the Sisterhood series and loved My Name is Memory, so I would've thought I could count on Brashares as an author. The real question is: how did this happen?