Quicklit review: The Here and Now, by Ann Brashares

Brashares Here and NowIn her latest novel, The Here and Now, Ann Brashares offers a new twist on a familiar trope. Prenna, along with her mother and friends live closed off from the world of the early 21st century. Having  traveled back from a post-plague, climate-ravaged future, they intend merely to live out the remainder of their lonely lives in peace. No one can know who they are, or from where they have come. There’s just one problem, someone —Ethan Jarves, the sweet and gentle boy in the school Prenna has enrolled in– saw them arrive. Now as she struggles to understand what the homeless man Ethan has befriended has to do with her community’s safety, she and Ethan must struggle against time to prevent the disaster that sent time spiralling down the wrong path in order to create a better, safer future.

Once again, Brashares offers keen awareness of young adults as her characters grope through the darkness dealing with unfamiliar emotions and situations, navigating first love and the loss of loved ones. The situation she creates, hovers on edge of science fiction– the reader will find no long-winded explanations of the possibilities of time travel here– and offers just enough mystery and tension to keep the reader guessing about how/if the star-crossed “lovers” will find a life together.

Although the story starts off slowly, (Brashares includes just a bit of overt moralizing about how the “time natives” of 2014 could knowingly ignore the science that proves humanity is on a crash course with climate disaster) and Prenna’s marose initial personality put me off at first, Brashares ably overcomes those slight weaknesses by the end. When Prenna finally acts she proves herself to be a worthy heroine, leading the reader through an emotional journey from despair toward hope.

Well worth recommending to readers 12 and up.

Sexual content = 1/2 S  — mildly open discussions about sex.

Violence = V several violent deaths.

Questionable behavior = 0

 

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Quicklit Review: Pierce Brown’s Red Rising is not for the squeamish.

Image    Darrow is a Hell Diver. He is one of the elite on the mining station of Mars who have been sent as an advance team to prepare the Red Planet for human habitation. When he risks his life to boost his team’s prospects at winning the Laurel, which translates into better and more abundant rations, he is surprised, but not overly upset when he finds out that the competition is rigged. The powers that control the lives of the miners manipulate and suppress the colony for their own purposes. What finally gets Darrow’s attention, though, is the unjust execution of a loved one. A single act of rebellion launches his life into a new trajectory in which he must erase all traces of his former life and hide in plain sight as a rebel against the political and social elite. Physically and mentally enhanced so that he can compete among the  sons and daughters of Mars’ elite, he fights to secure his place among the top commanders of the Mars forces so that as a mole in the governing body’s closed society, he can undermine the planet’s governing system. Darrow is thrown into a world of murder, torture, hunger, rape and deception as he and his fellow “students” compete to survive the bloodiest, most maddeningly unfair competition in Young Adult fiction I’ve read in a long time.
This heavily hyped futuristic story set on Mars combines the best and most gruesome parts of The Hunger Games, while also taking the “school” competition to a whole new level. The violence and raw aggressiveness of the plot, the setting, and the characters themselves, make this dystopian novel appropriate for older teens only.

Violence – VVV

Sex – SSS

Appropriate for High School age readers.