- Low action in the middle. There is a section in the middle of this book that is surprisingly low on action. After all, Prenna finally escapes the clutches of the leaders of her society so that she can save the world (quite literally) and she and Ethan go off and spend parts of their days playing cards and going to the beach. At first glance it seems like a really weird reaction to her situation. Here’s what saved it for me, though – I looked at it more from the perspective of a girl who had finally found the freedom to be ordinary (something she had always wanted) than from the perspective of a girl out to save the world. Really, Ethan and Prenna were waiting (I won’t spoil what they were waiting for) and it kind of made sense to me that they tried to just get in a bit of time being normal before it all went back to craziness again. And I really did enjoy the time to see Prenna and Ethan together, getting a little bit of what they wanted. Could Brashares have added in some more excitement in the middle of the book? Definitely. But I wasn’t bored for some reason.
- Talk of sex. Why is it that so often in YA books today it seems like teen characters are always dying to jump into bed together immediately as soon as they get together? Ethan and Prenna have known each other for a long time, but they aren’t together until the events in this book take place – yet they’re bemoaning the fact that they can’t have sex (because of Prenna’s society’s rules about intimacy – there is a fear that they could infect the “time natives” with their unknown germs). I could see being upset at the idea that it might not ever be able to happen, but no, they want to be able to do the deed right now. I mean they’ve been together for a few days, so obviously it’s time. Why, oh why is this the way we paint relationships in YA books? It makes me kind of crazy!
- The future dystopia. I thought that Brashares did a great job of creating a dystopia that occurs in the near future based on global warming and a pandemic outbreak of a mosquito-born illness that wipes out much of earth’s population. In some ways, it seems impossible to believe that such devastation could happen so quickly, but a true worldwide plague would definitely bring the world to its knees in many ways, so I could see it happening.
- Time travel. I thought that the time travel aspect of this book was handled well. Anytime time travel is involved in a book, there has to be at least some amount of suspension of disbelief, in my opinion, because there are aspects of it that could make you go crazy just thinking about them. Still, I never felt lost in this book and I thought that the time streams all seemed to make sense, even if there were details that I wondered about – such as how there was any guarantee that Prenna wouldn’t change something that would cause so much change that she wouldn’t even be born or something like that.
- The time travelers. The time traveler’s society was baffling in a lot of ways, but it made them a lot more interesting. Some of their rules made sense, but some just seemed crazy and impossible. For instance, why weren’t they allowed to talk about the truth, even amongst themselves? Why were these rules established in the first place and did anyone actually think they were a good idea? Or was there something more sinister to all of it? And then there was the issue of why they really traveled back in time. Was it really to try to fix the world or were they just trying to find a new place to “settle” to escape from the horrors of their own time?
- The romance. I really kind of loved Ethan and Prenna together. Their relationship did develop kind of quickly within the book, but they had a couple of years of history before the book started to go off of, so it didn’t feel like insta-love to me. I absolutely loved that Ethan knew all along that something was different about Prenna, but never pushed her to tell her secrets or tried to trick her into making a mistake.
Ann Brashares grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with three brothers and attended a Quaker school in the D.C. area called Sidwell Friends. She studied Philosophy at Barnard College, part of Columbia University in New York City. Expecting to continue studying philosophy in graduate school, Ann took a year off after college to work as an editor, hoping to save money for school. Loving her job, she never went to graduate school, and instead, remained in New York City and worked as an editor for many years. Ann made the transition from editor to full-time writer with her first novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Ann and her husband live with their three children in New York.