A complimentary advanced reader copy of this book was provided by Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!) My review was in no way influenced by this consideration.
I. loved. this. book.
Some of you will recognize Ann Brashares’ name from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. I’ve never read those, so I came into the experience of reading The Here and Now completely blind, not quite knowing what to expect. I loved it.
The basics: Prenna’s family, along with a good chunk of the world’s population, have been wiped out by a mosquito-borne plague. Things are pretty bleak, and so Prenna and a few others who still survive decide they must leave to try and find a cure. They immigrate to New York, but live in a cult-like closed society, spying on one another and attempting to enforce their strict standards on one another…because they’re afraid someone will discover they’ve come from about 80 years in the future.
But Prenna’s already been discovered–by Ethan. The book centers around what happens when Prenna starts forming a bond with Ethan, breaking the society’s rules, and then learns there are far bigger secrets than her own identity that have been hidden from her all along. The book is a mystery/thrill-ride, and it’s packed full of action and adventure. It’s clever and fun, but I fell completely 100% in love with it for the writing.
I was completely blown away by Ann Brashares. Her turns of phrase appeal to me in such a visceral way. For example:
I don’t lie to Ethan, but I don’t tell him the truth either. I can’t. To share anything with him, even if I could, would put him in an impossible place. Already he is the drip, drip of water that carves a canyon right through the middle of me.
Lying here like this, I can imagine happiness. Not a kicky, bright kind, but a full, almost aching kind, both dark and light. I can see the whole world in this way. I can imagine extending the feeling to other places and parts of the day. I can imagine holding it in my pocket like a lens, and bringing it out so that I can look through it and remember again and again the world that has this feeling in it.
Brashares’ voice is so distinct and polished that the whole book is a joy to read. The oooonly tiny little qualm I had was with the ending–it was left somewhat open, which was clearly intentional, but I really have to wrestle with my need for closure when that happens. It is not a cliffhanger, or a frustrating “what the?!” type of finish–it’s hopeful and does imply certain things.
The Here and Now may not appeal to absolutely everyone, but for me, it was pretty much a slam-dunk. I’m thrilled to have discovered Ann Brashares–she has plenty of published novels, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her writing.
Some mild language. 4.5 stars. The Here and Now releases on April 8th!