|The Here and Now|
I was really excited about this book. First because it's Ann Brashares (of the famous Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, and of The Last Summer of You and Me--which was fantastic). Second, I was excited because of the concept.
Here's the premise:
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
Interesting concept right? I loved the idea.
(Spoilers here so if you want to read the book, don't read this)
I hate to hate on books, but this one disappointed me. It was really short, not only in actual length but it's a huge concept that was tied up so neatly (except it wasn't because the ending wasn't an ending at all). There were lots of pieces to the story and you think the stakes are super high, right? The future of humans is at stake. But I didn't feel it.
Prenna was a really flat character for me. Huge things happen and her responses lacked depth. I loved Ethan as a character and I liked the idea of the two of them in love, but it seemed almost forced. I think maybe because the readers didn't see years of their friendship; we just walk into the story with that already set up. Which could work, but, I was disappointed by how one dimensional Prenna felt. And consistency in the story itself kindof fell apart because it bounced around with subplots and I never really got a good sense of "Oh, this is the big thing at stake," because there were lots of little subplots competing for that title.
Don't get me wrong, I liked the book. But I didn't love it. And the way it was pitched made me think it was going to be bigger and better. I think honestly it flopped a little for me because YA books are supposed to be all about feelings. This had a lot of information and description, but I didn't feel things along with Prenna and Ethan. The POV is told first person from Prenna's perspective but it felt really distant to me. I think that's why I had a hard time with Prenna's emotional responses because I never connected with her like I have other YA characters. I never felt the urgency of she and Ethan wanting and not being able to sleep together which is supposed to be a big part of the book. Prenna made a lot of stupid decisions, which is fine-characters do that--but I never understood why. When Tris makes bad decisions in Divergent I still love her; when Prenna made dumb decisions I muttered out loud "What an idiot."
I wanted to like her. I wanted to like the book. And I think I could have; the story just wasn't fleshed out and brought to life the way it could have been. Ann Brashares is a talented writer. I wish she would go back and flesh this out and add some layers to it.