The Here and Now, by Ann Brashares (2014)

Genre: Science Fiction
Interest Level: 13-21
The Here and NowPrenna and her mother Molly are among a small community of time travellers who take cover in New York City in 2014, escaping a plague-ridden dystopian existence at the end of the 21st century. The community’s leaders control them carefully, limiting their contact with outsiders, banning talk of their past or where they came from, and using surveillance to make sure no one defies the rules. A senior in high school, Prenna chafes against the restrictions, even as she mourns the loss of two younger brothers to the plague, and misses the father who did not come with her and Molly. Despite the warnings not to befriend “time natives,” Prenna finds herself attracted to her classmate Ethan, who knows more about her story than she realizes. There is a lot to like here. Brashares, author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, is adept at developing the relationships Prenna has with her mother, with Ethan, and with the community’s leaders, giving them authentic voices packed with emotion and motivation. She is too heavy-handed, though, with the environmental message that drives the story behind the travellers’ decision to come to our time. Readers are smart and don’t need to be told so overtly that we are ignoring the warning signs. And while the dialogue is smart and honest, her plot devices are occasionally laughable. Ethan’s use of a tracker in Prenna’s shoe just annoyed me, and another reader pointed out the utter pointlessness of Prenna’s capture – it advanced nothing in the story, and feels like it was a last-minute attempt to build up tension. The exploration of sex between Prenna and Ethan make is more appropriate for older teens. Those new to science fiction may appreciate this introduction to the genre, but more sophisticated readers will have to overlook a lot. It’s another lightweight sci-fi – better than Mlynowski’s Don’t Even Think About It, so if your readers want another taste of this genre, refer them to All Good Children or Divergent.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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