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.
I have to admit, I'm torn. I usually love Brashares' books, but this one isn't particularly loveable.
It has the potential to be a really good time travel story. Really good. Prenna is one of a mere 1,000 chosen to go back in time from the late 21st/early 22nd century to now-ish (2010, though the story is NOW) with a mission to prevent the events that became the downfall of mankind and earth. They've got rules for how they can and can't interact with today's world, which all make sense but Prenna can't shake the feeling that that it's not all on the up and up. The book could work with these great bones for the story.
But then it turns into a teenage novel. Enter love interest (who she isn't supposed to be too close to) who has zero difficulty handling the "I'm from the future" bombshell she drops on him. And there's a murder to prevent, but first let's go shopping for bikinis and have sangria on the beach. Really? I'd like to think even teenagers starting out a romance would have some urgency about stopping a murder that could potentially destroy the world as we know it.
Prenna's character was well-written until she got involved with Ethan. After that, she's a mess. It's hard to like someone who ceases being a strong person. Ethan never particularly develops, which makes him uninteresting to me. I don't get the feeling that he's really important to the story in this book. The adults in the book were really the only ones who consistently worked for me, because they seemed to be the best described, while still maintaining the "rules" for the group.
I wish Ethan had more to him. I wish the romance didn't just happen, instead of having to grow a bit. I wish that the story didn't seem disjointed--is this sci-fi, or action, or a romance, or teen angstyness at its finest? I just don't know. Perhaps if more time had been spent on building up the world in the book (Why those 1,000 people and not others?) and less time on beaches it could've been okay.