Review: HERE AND NOW AND THEN by Mike Chen

Publisher: MIRA
Page Count: 336
Release Date: January 29th, 2019
Series: Standalone
Rating: 3/5 Stars – Liked it!

Here and Now and Then

When a mission goes terribly wrong, time travel agent Kin finds himself stuck in the 1990s with no way to return to his own time of 2142. Eighteen years later, Kin has settled into a new life, married, had a kid, and all but forgotten what his previous life was like. But then Kin’s retrieval team shows up, whisking him away and back home. He’s supposed to forget about the family he created and settle back in with his fiancée, who knows nothing about his day job. Can Kin pick up a relationship when, for him, it’s been eighteen years since they last saw each other, but for his girlfriend, it’s only been a few days? And can he truly give up a wife and daughter when there might be a way to stay in touch? Kin finds himself trapped between two lives, made all the more complicated when the agency he works for begins to believe his past life might have caused a catastrophic danger.

HERE AND NOW AND THEN is a diverting time travel adventure that fell just short of getting its emotional hooks into me. I really enjoyed the author’s creativity when it came to how time travel works, what rules govern the agency that is protecting the time line, and how these people avoid paradoxes. I tend to nitpick a lot on time travel, especially when creators don’t follow their own rules of how time travel works, but HERE AND NOW AND THEN had a well thought out system that let me sit back and take in the scenario the time travel created, rather than spiraling in a whirlpool of logic.

Main character Kin is put into an impossible situation rather early in the book. He truly thought he would never see his family and friends again, and rather than spend the rest of his life in solitude, he let himself fall in love and have a life. Yet when his team comes to retrieve him, he’s expected to simply forget about the family he spent 18 years with and focus on people he hasn’t been with for just as long. Through no fault of his own, Kin is torn between two families, and it is a heart-wrenching, emotionally complex issue.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I felt myself at a distance from Kin’s problems. I didn’t truly feel the heartstring pulls of Kin missing his family. That might partially be due to some mild annoyances I had with how Kin’s continual waffling on how to handle the situation. Kin would make a pledge to himself to do one thing, then immediately in the next chapter, would throw that pledge out the window because a new factor had come to light. This happened a couple of times, and just felt like character growth was not being allowed to happen, that he wasn’t allowed to settle into any state of being. Kin constantly ping-ponged between which family was more important to him, which just made the emotions feel shallow to me. This might not be fair the character, since again, it’s an impossible situation, but it kept me from sinking into Kin’s feelings.

And yet despite all that, I definitely teared up at the end of the book, so perhaps Kin’s dilemma did worm its way into my heart after all. And despite feeling at a distance, I did have a good time overall and don’t regret picking up the book. Its creative premise alone made it worth the read. It’s a fun standalone that’s a great light summer book, but not perhaps one that will stay with you for long afterwards.

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