Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

I'm woefully behind in my reading for this year's Y'allFest, which is this weekend. This year Ann Brashares is one of the authors. This book is a bit of a departure from her Traveling Pants series and some of her other books. I see that it's had some unhappy readers writing about it, but luckily for me, I not in that group. I found this a rather thought provoking work, with several interesting "what-if"s thrown in. For starters are the two opening quotes:
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. --L.P. Hartley  and If time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future? -- Stephen Hawking

In this story, the future folk are, indeed, here among us, fleeing a dying world, where there is a shortage of everything that sustains life.  Prenna James is one of the immigrants from the latter part of this century, sent back in time with her mother, and a community of other children and parents who had not succumbed to the deadly mosquito borne plague that is decimating the population. The rules of their community strictly prohibit interactions with "native timers" both so to not change the course of history, and to prevent the type of slaughter that occurred when Europeans first came to the Americas and introduced their foreign bacteria. (The one bit that's a little confusing was that there also is mention of saving the world they come from from the problems it encounters, but if you're not to interact with the natives, that could prove difficult.)

When Prenna arrived 4 years before the start of the story, her entrance was observed by Ethan Jarves, Though she had no memory of her arrival, it made a profound impact on him, and now their paths cross again in high school. Prenna has a bit of a rebellious streak in her and Ethan is smart, charming, and nuts about her. At the same time, events unfold to make Prenna question all that she remembers and has been told, and the two realize it may be up to them to help save Prenna's world from its fate.

Things I liked:
-Prenna and Ethan together. Their relationship was gentle and full of trust and intelligence
-That the deadly plague is an advanced form of dengue fever, which is bad enough now (it's also called Break Bone fever, because that's what it feels like) but has turned deadly, and that it can be spread because our climate of the future favors misquotes over humans.
-The thought of finding clues to to future in something as simple as a newspaper.  Prenna talks about how the technology we dream of today is a reality in her world, but what has become really special is handwritten works, or the printed word.
-Who gets saved on May 17, 2014
-No vampires or Zombies
There were some things I didn't cotton to (see above about saving worlds), including the relationship Prenna has with the adults in her group, but hey, it's a YA novel, and what's a little angst among teens?

Tag: read, thank-you-charleston-county-library, time-travel-reincarnation-etc, ya-lit, yallfest

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