Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen (DRC): An Amazing Adult Sci-Fi Novel with Strong Family Themes

4.5 stars

Kin Stewart used to be a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

Now, stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.

Kin has to return to 2142, but he’s torn between two lives and desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process.

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I know I don’t read a lot of adult science-fiction (too many older white men who complain about things not being ~sciencey~ enough) but Here and Now and Then sounded right up my alley. And you know what? IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT.

I loved reading. I loved it so much.

I know Chen shared how he was scared it was too literary for adult science fiction, but it is definitely not too literary in my eyes. It was the perfect amount of literary–the dash of literary that makes it appealing to a more casual reader (like me!).

This dash of literary made the story so heartwrenching (this is why I hate time travel stories–because the nature of time travel is just kind of horrible to families) and reading about Kin trying to make it back to his daughter Miranda made me cry twice while reading.

Yeah, I know.

The entire “literary” portion with the family themes were so strong and powerful (probably also what made it relatable to a YA reader like myself). I mean, Kin is a 40 year old man, an age bracket I don’t normally relate to, but I loved this a lot.

He’s ripped apart from the family he has created after getting stranded in time–namely, away from his daughter Miranda–and this leads Kin to do a lot of things to both communicate with her, as well as eventually save her.

It’s heartwrenching, and I was definitely a little sad (also a little happy) at the ending. Which wasn’t like Super Sad, but I wish the world wasn’t so cruel that it had to end this way :/

(But really, Chen made the best ending I could imagine without completely defying all the natural laws he set up in the story.)

And even more than the family portion, reading Kin try and figure out his feelings towards the girlfriend he forgot about when he was stranded, Penny, and the family he created in the past was really interesting and I loved it.

Where the half star came off was honestly from the Penny side–I wish we got to see a little more oomph–impact–from Kin and Penny’s new relationship. Because I think she got the page time she deserved, but I wanted a little more meaning + thought into this part of Kin’s life.

Other than that though, this book was honestly almost flawless. I loved the way everything came together (also, how everything ruined each other because that’s what good plots have) and the time travel was sciencey enough that I enjoyed it, but not too sciencey that it felt like Chen was trying to intentionally confuse the reader and be ~cool~.

Overall, this was an amazing read and I really appreciated so many parts of thisbook, even as a YA reader. I loved the family potrion, I loved the plot, and I loved reading about Kin’s struggles reconciling his old life, his new life, and his old old life. Chen did such a great job with this and I defintiely recommend to anyone looking for a moving adult sci-fi read that could still be enjoyable to YA readers.

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Mira Books for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!

Are you thinking of reading Here and Now and Then? Let me know!

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