The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now by Ann BrasharesPrenna James comes to present day New York when she is twelve years old. She and a group of people have traveled back in time from the future, where the world is in ruin due to an epidemic spread by mosquitoes. Prenna is expected to follow a specific sort of rules, including the strict rule that she must never be close anyone that is not part of the community. But when Prenna begins to fall for Ethan Jarves, she finds it difficult to follow the rules she has always obeyed.

I was really excited to read this one because it is by the author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, but I have to honestly say that I was extremely disappointed in this book. It was really hard to get through, which is saying something because the entire book is less than 300 pages. I came very close to adding this book to my DNF shelf, but I figured since it was pretty short I might as well power through.

Prenna herself was a huge problem for me. I hate to say it but her character was just…dumb. She made stupid decisions that would be obvious to anyone else, and these decisions lead to outcomes that are extremely predictable. Prenna constantly goes on and on about how her “community” was supposed to travel back in time to stop the plague from happening…yet she thought they would do this by attending normal school for the past five years? Why has it taken her this long to realize that nobody is actually taking any action?

Another problem I had was the insta-love. This is a huge pet peeve of mine and usually a deal breaker when it comes to a story. Ethan sees Prenna appear randomly one day, which happened to be the day she time traveled, and he is instantly hooked. Prenna is basically in love with him from the moment she meets him, even though there are no sparks between them at all. And Ethan is portrayed as being basically perfect. He’s good looking, super smart and nerdy yet extremely popular, invited to all the best parties at school, great with computers, and somehow manages to acquire a glass cutter and know how to use it. All very convenient–too much so.

There were some definitely plot holes also. A few things just didn’t make sense, and then there was this whole thing with a homeless guy that was obviously supposed to be a big twist but just seemed completely weird and way too convenient to the plot. What really bugged me also was that after Prenna and Ethan figure out how they are supposed to essentially save the world, they sit around for two days hanging out by the beach and playing cards? I don’t know if this was supposed to be the relationship building part of the story, but it just seemed odd.

Overall, The Here and Now was a huge disappointment that I almost didn’t finish due to the awful main character, insta-love, and plot holes. The premise behind it was interesting but overall the book was a big flop for me.

The Here and Now will be released on April 8, 2014.

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Dark Shift by Rick Polito

Dark Shift by Rick PolitoDrake Copeland’s life changed when his mother disappeared and he was forced to go into foster care. When the entire school goes on a field trip, Drake is one of four students who remains behind because he has nobody to sign his permission slip. What starts off as another dull day at school however, suddenly turns into something much different. An experiment left in the science lab causes the entire school to be thrown forward in time, to a time period nearly one hundred years in the future where the world is drastically different. The post apocalyptic world is plagued by all kinds of supernatural creatures, and Drake, his science teacher, and his peers must do their best to survive until they can find a way home.

The idea behind this story was very creative and interesting! Stories about time travel always fascinate me because of the whole complexity of it all. So when I read the plot summary of this book I definitely wanted to give it a read.

I liked the main character, Drake–he has the qualities that a true leader should have and I thought it was interesting that he was able to take charge of the group after being such a quiet kid in school. I liked the humor in this story as well, and loved that the characters were still able to joke about their situation after all they had been through. Each of the kids changes in some way after going through the time lurch and being thrust into a new world, and it seemed like they became who they always were supposed to be. In this new crazy world, they were able to shed the appearances they kept up in high school and were finally able to figure out who they really are.

The new world that they time travel to is full of all sorts of strange creatures, from werewolves and vampires to ghost-like creatures. Everything that has appeared in this future world is a result of the experiment that was left in the laboratory that day, left by Evan Dandridge, a student who was constantly teased for being a nerd but who was actually a genius. I would’ve loved to have had more information about Evan–we are only given a brief glimpse of him at the beginning of the book and I would’ve liked to know more about what led him to making this experiment that would eventually change the world.

Another thing I would have liked to have had more information about is Drake’s mother’s disappearance. When his mother left it obviously had a big impact on him and changed his life dramatically, but other than a brief description of what happened the day she disappeared, we really don’t get much more information. His mother also seems to play a big role in the story as a whole, and I feel like more information about her and and about Drake’s life before she left would’ve made the connection between she and Drake seem stronger and more real.

Overall, Dark Shift was an interesting read with an original story and a ton of action. The ending left me slightly confused (mainly from all the space-time continuum stuff) and full of a bunch of questions which I’m guessing will probably be touched upon in the next book.

Dark Shift was released on May 30, 2013.