The Here and Now - Anne Brashares
The Here and Now tells the story of a young woman from the future who is trying to reconcile her knowledge of the future with what is happening in her new present, much to the chagrin of the leaders of the Community. There are a number of rules that must be followed by those who have travelled back, and Prenna, though she doesn't agree with all the rules, is relatively adherent... until she meets Ethan Jarves.
We begin with a flashback and then move to the present, never actually seeing into the future except through brief glimpses in the form of dialogue from our heroine. The future looks grim (don't worry, I won't give it all away!), but Prenna's present isn't looking so great either, living under the thumb of the people in charge of her Community.
The novel feels like it's trying to teach me a lesson. Some of the environmental messages come across as overly heavy-handed and would improve with more nuanced reflection and narrative style. Instead the reader is left feeling preached at about the effects of fossil fuels on the environment (not that I don't agree with the message, mind you, but I do feel the complexities of the situation within the novel could have benefitted from some less textbook-style writing.)
The love story works well, though again, I would have appreciated a bit more development of the relationship(s) overall, as it all seemed to happen quite quickly. I do like Ethan as a character, though, and I don't feel that he totally overshadows Prenna, though at times I felt myself wishing she was less reliant on his somewhat supernatural ability to piece things together.
All in all, I enjoyed Brashares novel. Many of my complaints will probably not even come up as issues to many readers, but I would be remiss if I did not at least mention some of my qualms. The pacing is quick and keeps up the tension and suspense. There are mysteries left unsolved until almost the end, and the reader is left guessing as to whether or not Prenna and Ethan can possibly succeed in changing the present to save the future. If you're a fan of time travel, teen romance, and well-paced plots, then I think you'll enjoy the ride!
Recommended with minor reservations
(Note: This review is from an advanced reading copy - Out April 8, 2014)