Monday, February 24, 2014

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares is a time travel dystopia, so a little different from her earlier realistic fiction (or, well, magical realism, because I would contend that a pair of pants that flatters four entirely different body types would have to be magical -- but that is entirely beside the point of this review).

Prenna is part of a group of immigrants from the future. In Prenna's world (the USA of 2087), the environment has been pretty much destroyed, and disease runs rampant. Using time travel technology, a group of settlers returned to the USA of 2010, ostensibly to try to correct the problems that will result in the devastation they have experienced. It's been four years, though, and from where Prenna sits, it's looking more and more like the settlers are interested in just being absorbed into the culture, rather than making an effort to change it. They've become a strictly regimented society, with secrecy as their primary purpose in life. When a homeless man tells Prenna that he has isolated the fork -- the point at which the future went into a tailspin -- and that he needs her to stop the murder that started everything, she doesn't know what to think. She would write off the conversation as deranged ramblings, except that the man knows too much about her and her society -- and he also knows that the date of the murder had been written in permanent marker on Prenna's arm when she arrived in the present, though she has never been able to remember how it got there. Now, with the help of one trusted friend, Prenna has the opportunity to change the course of history, if she dares -- but to do so, she will have to go against everything she has been taught for the past four years.

This was a good, gripping read, one that fans of dystopias and time travel stories will enjoy. It's a little message-heavy, but readers who are absorbed in the story as I was will be willing to forgive that, at least while they are reading. There's a romantic subplot that is handled really well, and Prenna's adventures are believable for the most part, though there are a few small plot holes. I'd recommend this to fans of the genre as well as fans of this author.

(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)

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