Recommended for ages 14+
Ann Brashares, author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, gives us a well-constructed story with dypstopian elements, time travel, and a race through the past, present and future to stop a terrifying future.
Prenna is a 17 year-old Traveler – she, her mother, and a group of her people came to our present time to escape a future where a blood plague ravaged the population. The Travelers live under a restrictive list of rules that appear to exist more for their power-hungry leaders rather than the actual good of the people (or the Natives – people in the right timeline – that the rules are supposed to protect). When Prenna finds herself growing closer to her friend Ethan, she starts questioning not only the rules, but the entire structure their society was built on – and she and Ethan find themselves drawn into a race against time to put a stop to the dismal future from which Prenna came, all the while pursued by the leaders who want to silence Prenna, possibly for good.
The Here and Now has elements of The Giver – the post-apocalyptic society governed by rules really spoke to me – and is one of those books that I couldn’t put down. I needed to know what was going to happen next; Ms. Brashares constructed a compelling narrative with enough mystery to keep me going for that famous “one page more”. Within the overall story structure, there are mini-mysteries that the two teens have to unravel to get the next piece of the puzzle; add to that the internal conflict Prenna feels at duty to her family and the love she and Ethan feel for one another, and you have a great read for teens that can spawn interesting conversations about the implications of time travel: what would happen if you went back in time and changed things, even if they were for the better? What kind of society would develop if a blood-borne plague spiraled out of control? More than a teen romance, The Here and Now offers the opportunity to draw teens into complex conversations about the world around them.