The Here and Now
Prenna has come from the future to prevent that future taking place. In that future, a blood borne disease has killed the entire world, and left everyone fearing the outside world. Prenna doesn’t know when or how the world will be stopped from doing that, but it seems like the rest of her community couldn’t care less. Ethan, a boy she wants to love but can’t, has more to offer her than she will ever imagine.
Prenna can’t seem to help getting into trouble. And the catch-cry of her elders is ‘Stop looking so stupid Prenna’, which at some points was so true! Arg! Prenna! Grow a spine! You have a good chance of dying anyway, so you might as well try and escape or be different, or something!
Sometimes I thought Prenna was completely ignorant and hopeless. I thought that the author was having time-outs in her characterisation! But then I remembered that someone from the future would have had that sort of thing, and in fact it was a deliberate device used by the author to remind the reader that she was no ordinary person. I hope.
I have to admit, the reader did some parts brilliantly, and others in a bit of a fluffy way. Sometimes the characters blended together in a soft, floating cloud of breathy speech. It felt like the reader didn’t know how to make voices other than ‘quiet’ and ‘very quiet with air’. That being said, I didn’t care, and it was far better than the reader having a very strong accent of anything. This fault was easy to live with and didn’t kill my enjoyment of the novel.
The author seems to have really considered how best to drag her readers forwards mainly by the second third of the novel. The suspense was killing me towards the end. I wanted to read faster! But of course, it was a talking book, and I couldn’t do it. The ending was a satisfying yet saddening conclusion. I felt frustrated at the same time as feeling sadly expectant. I do so wish things could have turned out differently, but it was obvious why it couldn’t be so simple.
Something that did jibe well with me was the fact that it was a blood borne disease, dengue virus in fact, that caused the plagues of the future. Maybe that confuses other people who don’t understand climate warming or anything else, but given this is a topic close to my research interests, I was fascinated to see how it turned out. Overall, the message about the future being obvious to those that take the time to look forward, even if they weren’t actually time-travellers, and that that world is disintegrating by our actions, gives certainly a bad reflection on common humans.
I am entirely, entirely guilty of listening to this novel without having reviewed the other four novels I had read in the preceding week. Oops? But I thought I had better review this good one before it left my head. If there’re more novels out there by Brashares in the same genre, I’m pretty sure I’ll be sourcing them shortly. 5 stars from me.
NOTE: While I was looking on GoodReads for the book cover, I found that the reviews are really mixed. I possibly wouldn’t have picked it up as a paperback, but as an audiobook I loved it. I certainly wasn’t bored!