In The Here and Now, Ann Brashares takes a brief, focused bite into the dystopian genre of Young Adult fiction, but adds her own twist for a refreshingly light spin.
Prenna and thousands like her live in a world of disease, ruin, and fear. Through advanced technology and a desire to set things right, an entire generation emmigrates – not to a different place, but back in time. Ethan finds himself on the other end of the wormhole, and witnesses Prenna – lost and alone – emerge in the present day. Thus begins a connection neither of them can break.
Brashares spends just enough time constructing the world Prenna came from. There are some brief scientific explanations of how a blood disease becomes pandemic, and some social commentary of its effect on civil structures. But you don’t get too bogged down in the specifics, which I liked. Brashares also spends just enough time explaining how the future residents function as travelers in the present world – the rules they must follow to not be discovered, to fit in, to make do. Everything is clear and precise; this book is only 250 pages (which is short by today’s standards), so you get the feeling Brashares uses every page wisely. The brevity of this book might bother some, as there are times when it borders on shallow. But I was enchanted by the swift pace, and by Brashares’ light, lyrical writing.
Each of the characters in The Here and Now – even minor characters like Prenna’s friend Katharine and their corrupt community leaders – are sharply drawn and distinct. I enjoyed getting to know both Prenna and Ethan, and was totally invested in their blooming relationship; the love story here is tender and earnest.
Beyond its focus on the young couple, and its touches of dystopia and science fiction, The Here and Now is also part mystery, and there were moments I was in genuine suspense. And although the book ends on a satisfying note, leaving it to function reasonably as a stand-alone novel, it feels like there is still so much of this story to be told. I don’t know the certainty of this becoming a series, but if Brashares decided to continue with Prenna and Ethan, I will be one of the first to buy the next book in the series!
*Disclosure: I received this book as a member of the Amazon Vine review program. No compensation was received, and all opinions expressed are honest and my own. Affiliate links are included.