The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.
This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.
Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.
But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.
Review: Ok, I'm of two minds about this one. One the one hand, I liked it. It was a quick read, and I liked Prenna and Ethan's relationship (for the most part). For the first half or so, I kept comparing it to Pivot Point and Split Second, in that it was a story about a community of outsiders who had to blend in to the Normal World while keeping secrets about their identities. And I liked The Here and Now's discipline better, and its Big Brother-ish vibe.
In the second half of the book, though, things fell apart a little bit. For starters, all of a sudden Prenna and Ethan are In Love?? After avoiding him for two years and doing her best to maintain emotional distance, now all of a sudden they flip a switch and they're soulmates? I'm a little skeptical that a teenage boy would put so much energy into pining over a girl who is a self-confessed "expert liar" and never tells him anything about herself.
Speaking of which, for a girl who's had Being Undercover drilled into her continuously for the past four years, she does NOT think on her feet. (Or at all, really. But I'm ok with a person being Book Smart and not Street Smart. Common sense, after all, usually isn't.)
Also, really? The security that's kept over them is based on lies and fear, sure. But they put together a group of people to migrate to the past based on finding people who were passionate about going back and preventing the plague... and then are surprised when those people try to change the past? Maybe you should have started with stupider people, is all I'm saying.
And the plot itself... confused me. I could follow it on its (fairly predictable) way, but a few plot holes bothered me, and I think a couple of things that don't have satisfactory explanations are camouflaged by time-travel paradoxes.
I felt like Brashares was trying to put a lot into the emotional impact of the book, which was fine, as far as it went. I liked her descriptions of Feelings; they worked ok. But without a solid narrative to hold them up, I just wasn't as invested in the feelings of the characters.
Goodreads Shelves: bechdel-test, fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book, my-kind-of-woman, pretentious