Prenna is a time traveler that "immigrated" to the modern day U.S. to escape the plague-ridden world of tomorrow. She and her fellow refugees must follow a set of guidelines that are designed to prevent any tampering with time. Rules like "We must make strenuous efforts to fit into society and not bring attention to ourselves or our community in any manner," "We must avoid inclusion in the historical archival record, whether in print, photography, or video," etc.
Maybe hard core sci-fi fans would find the idea generic, but I don't read much time travel, so I thought it was pretty intriguing. Unfortunately, I was left with many questions about the world Brashares created, which took away from the story's original draw. Of course, gaps are inevitable when it comes to world building--we can't expect an author to info-dump and explain every minutia of a society--but I felt like more research/explanation could have improved the book. I can usually suspend my disbelief, but had some trouble this time.
The characters were a bit bland, and the romance progressed quickly--perhaps too quickly. I wouldn't call it insta-love because I know Prenna and Ethan had the foundation of a friendship before the book began, but I still would have liked to see the relationship drawn out. My biggest beef was that both Prenna and Ethan seemed to worry more about their love life than…I don't know…saving the world? Alas, they are hormonal teenagers.
Despite its flaws, The Here and Now was a nice refreshment from the fantasy I've been reading. It's a quick, fun read that would be great to bring to the beach. Is it groundbreaking sci-fi with an award-winning cast of characters? No. But it held my attention for a few hours and even prompted me to do a bit of time travel research. So if you want something light and quick, pick it up! However, I wouldn't recommend this to someone who's looking for complex characters or seamless world building.
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The Here and Now by Ann Brashares