Published by Delacorte Press
Pub Date: April 8th 2014
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Romance, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
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An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.
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.
As you begin this story it seems have a bit of a light but somber mood to it. It felt dreary, like a foggy morning that our main character, Prenna was walking through. She is not from the present, but from the distant future, and her life in the present is highly regulated and she has very little freedom. She is forbidden to form close bonds with “time natives” (those from the present). But regardless, she forms a friendship with a boy from her class, Ethan. As you see Prenna interacting with Ethan, the fog starts to dissipate and though the story is still pretty somber, it is a little brighter when Ethan is around. Ethan is charming and vastly intelligent, and always seem to have a logical reasoning or answer to everything. Though it sounds annoying, this only adds to his charm. Prenna is from a disease-ridden future that her, and a few others escaped from via time travel. Problem is, she can’t share that with anyone, especially Ethan, though he seems to be a lot more intuitive than most of the other “time natives”. She can’t even talk about her previous life with her fellow time travelers, it is forbidden, as are many other things. The place where she came from is not a place anyone would ever want to visit. It is full of pandemic disease, death and devastation. But this world, the present, this refreshed world is wonderful and Prenna relishes in the simplest of things. Things that maybe we take for granted: flowers, stars, abundance of food, animals, the ocean… things that no longer existed in the future she is from. Then she is presented with information that may save them all from that dreadful future. The decision to interfere with the present and possibly fix the future now lies solely in her hands. But if she acts, then she will go against every rule that has been ingrained into her since their arrival. And better yet, will it even work?
This story as a lot of really interesting elements to it, time travel, space-time continuum, chaos theory (the butterfly effect), mystery, danger, rebellion and of course, love. It is a dystopia of sorts, though the dystopia doesn’t exist in the present, but in the future. (Though you could argue that Prenna is living a type of dystopia in the present within her community.) It also answers questions that other time-traveling stories may not: could you bring disease with you when you travel to the present? Could you infect others? How? I thought the writing was superb and I found myself getting lost in Ann Brashares’ colorful words and in getting to know Prenna and the grim future that she hails from. What is a bit unnerving about this story and the ghastly future we see, is that it is not beyond the world of possibilities. Disease and lack of energy resources are issues that strike close to home. Ann Brashares takes those conceivably impending crises and turns them into our worst nightmare.
Some of the characters seemed to take actions that left me a bit confused and I couldn’t understand their rational. There were also characters that were introduced that weren’t ever fully developed. Those were the only reasons I didn’t give this book a 4. Regardless, this book kept me intrigued and I liked the development of Prenna’s persona. I also enjoyed Prenna and Ethan’s interactions and watching the romance bloom. However, I can see how some readers may have mixed feelings about the ending also because this is a stand-alone novel. I still believed it was a happy ending nonetheless, an ending full of possibilities.