If you want to read a well-written and believable story about time travel and romance that features strong character development, then read Stephen King’s 11/22/63. If you are not as concerned about that, read Ann Brashares’s THE HERE AND NOW.
The prologue started with a teen spotting another teen wrapped in an aura that was all shiny. Sparkly, if you will. Thankfully, it didn’t go that direction, but took a more sophisticated turn for the better. The idea is that all hell breaks loose in the future, creating a dystopian environment of doom and death. A group of healthy remnants pilgrimage back in time to set up their own new community. 2099 sucks, so 2014 sounds better. This group of travelers doesn’t want information to spread, so they keep their group together via cult-like tactics, such as repetition of rules.
As the book description eludes, the book’s protagonist Prenna has the hots for a non-traveler named Ethan. Of course. And yes, that’s a rule breaker. Here’s where things get tricky: they both cross this old man in front of the supermarket that encourages them to go on this wild quest to alter time. More rule breaking. The two kids use a newspaper from the future to monitor their endeavors of time altering. To fill in the gaps, the non-traveler teaches the time traveler how to play various card games. It’s a mix of urgency and time-killing. Oh, and the consequence for breaking the rules? Be thrown in some remote farmhouse whilst waiting for an easily-accessible and completely avoidable rescue. Those tracking devices and glass cutters come in handy for a teenager to own.
What breaks down the belief system is the lack of congruency and planning. Anything involving time travel needs to be well thought out. And this wasn’t. We all know about the butterfly effect—the slightest change of the past can have vast changes in the future—but apparently not here. Prenna continues to write letters to her unborn brother, but without much consideration if her mother will still marry her father, let alone all the other events that may or may not play out.
Author Ann Brashares had her success with SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS, but that didn’t carry out too well here. HERE AND NOW has some interesting concepts, especially as a group of people escaping the future by traveling together, but those concepts lose their grip once teenage romance takes the plot’s center stage. The book doesn’t honestly address the issues at hand and the audience feels duped.
All is not a complete loss. Brashares is a talented writer, but congruency and honesty can go a long way in making this book better.
Thank you to Delacorte Press and Random House Children’s Publishing for providing me with an electronic review copy of this book.