In this breezy twist on a YA dystopian novel, Brashares (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series) smartly connects a nightmare future to today’s inertia about climate change, and wraps it in an easy to read romantic thriller.
12-year old Prenna James travels from plague-ridden broken down 2098 back to 2010 along with nearly a thousand others. Four years later, Prenna discovers that it is her task to make a crucial difference so that the future is brighter. Brashares creates a believable community of time travelers, with rigid rules and structures designed for them to have as little effect on the future as possible.
But Prenna takes the typical dystopic heroine route from willing compliance to feisty rebellion, when she breaks the rules and falls in love with a ‘time native’, Ethan. Through Prenna’s eyes, the reader appreciates “the lushness, the generosity” of our world, and can feel her frustration at the lack of meaningful action being taken to keep it that way.
Ethan is rather bland in his perfection, as well as mind-bogglingly resourceful, and the other characters, even Prenna’s closest friend Katherine, are only perfunctorily developed. However, the time travel elements of the plot are well-thought through, and the race to change the future is stirring.
Though the finale is a little rushed and credibility-stretching, The Here and Now will have plenty of appeal to readers who like a good helping of romance with their science fiction. And thanks heavens it’s a standalone – I’m so tired of reading first parts of trilogies! Review based on an ARC from Netgalley.