Here and Now and Then

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 29 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

Time Travel is the axle on which this book turns, but I see it more as a commentary on family and  human needs.  Our hero, a time traveling secret agent becomes stuck in the 1990's.  He makes the best of his situation and marries, starts a family and tries to blend in.  Time travel rears it's ugly head when his team arrives to "save" him, bringing him back to the life he left - and the family!  There isn't a lot of action or suspense in this novel. Mike Chen offers us the chance to say "what if?' along with his hero.  I think this might make a good book discussion selection, because I found myself wanting to talk about it while and after reading.
I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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A time travel book with heart! 

I tend to fall to the fantasy side of the SFF spectrum despite having a science background, but this was the perfect balance of tech and character. The story had enough depth to pull me in, and now I recommend it to anyone who will listen. It's not just a time travel book, it's a book about the human condition and the relationships that form us.

A fantastic debut!
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Awesome book! The main character, Kin, is a time travelling secret agent from the future who got stranded in the 1990s, and ended up getting married and having a daughter in violation of the agency's non-interference policies, but without ever telling his family the truth about who he is - and then 18 years later, his agency finally finds him. I don't want to give away the plot, so suffice it to say it's a "how far would you go to save your family" story with a time travel twist. I think even non-science fiction fans would enjoy this book, as the heart of the story is really more emotional. I couldn't put it down, and I literally finished the book with my neck wet from the tears dripping down my face. Highly recommend. 4.5 stars.
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Time travel! Because what could possibly go wrong? I mean, apparently, a lot? But who knew?

Sci-fi is a little hit or miss with me, especially when it comes to time travel, because my brain is thiiiis big –> . Therefore, paradoxes make it go boom. And there are aaaalways paradoxes. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that.

I picked up Here and Now and Then because it felt like an accessible sci-fi book that would not only give me some action (helloooo secret time travel agent) as well as take me for a bit of an emotional spin.

And it … sort of did? I guess? More than anything, I walked away with a sense that this book just wasn’t for me. I had that thought going in, and I should have trusted my instincts. But hey, my instincts also said it’d be a great idea to get married and have a kid, so what do they know?

Thank you to NetGalley and Mira for an eARC in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. 

My Thoughts:

- I’m not usually a huge fan of time travel (re: tiny mammal brain), but I enjoyed how Chen approached that aspect. It felt accessible. Almost real, or as real as time travel can feel. There were a lot of really nice details about both the time travel, how it’s done, and the future. The Temporal Correction Bureau (TCB) oversees the conduction of time travel and keeps it a secret from the general population … mostly because even in 2142, people can’t handle time travel. I mean, do you blame them? Perhaps what was the most exciting about this is that time travel has *consequences*. You can’t just go floating through time all willy-nilly and only have to worry about not disrupting the timeline, because that mess takes a toll on your body, as it should. You know, because you’re getting hurled through time. And hurling is not the sort of word that’s generally associated with positive things. I just liked the world-building here. I thought it was interesting and wasn’t too far-fetched to believe.

- Markus is delightful and clearly is the most logical, and so I feel terribly sorry for him. I mean, let’s face it, he’s in a no-win situation, caught between his sister and his friend and his job. There’s no way he’s coming out on top, guys. No matter what he does, someone’s going to be upset. It’s just a matter of how dead he’s going to end up. I actually ended up really sympathizing with his plight, because who should he prioritize? His best friend, sister, job, the timeline?

- This was a really light, easy-breezy read, so nice for a beach read or summer read. But I didn’t feel like it held any heft, and it wasn’t particularly sticky. It was engaging enough where I read through it pretty quickly and enjoyed it while I was reading … but I didn’t love it. And once I’d finished and put it down, that was it. No book hangover. No wanting more. No lingering withdrawal from being forsaken by these characters and forced back into the real world.

- The ending was extremely touching, and I’m pretty sure there’s no possible better ending for a book like this. I can’t tell you about it, so I guess you’ll have to read the book to find out. But the ending definitely tied things up nicely, and I thought it was a great way to end a book that is so chock full of character emotions.

Sticking Points:

- The summary pretty much says it all. Roll credits. I mean, summaries are hard. You have to give enough to hook a reader, but leave enough out for them to discover. I felt like this fell down on the latter. The summary is pretty much exactly what the book is. The surprises are minimal and minor. There’s no major plot twists or deviations. It’s pretty much just what it says. Which is great if you want exactly what’s in the summary. I, personally, was expecting something a bit … more.

- I didn’t really connect to the characters, and since this was a very character-driven novel, that was a problem. I can’t even specifically tell you why I didn’t connect to them. I just … didn’t. I have a few theories, though. The book is split between two timelines, which means we spend a bit of time in each. Not enough, though, for me to solidly feel a part of either, which meant that both families felt inaccessible for me. Once he leaves the past, what little connection was there (which I didn’t feel particularly strongly to start with) felt just … gone. Kin was still obsessed with it, as he should be, but for me, I was perfectly fine with leaving the characters in the past and moving on. As a parent myself, I could relate to Kin’s plight and his desperate need to help his daughter. As a non-time traveler, though, it was hard to relate to his situation, and as a logical person, it was straight-up impossible to relate to the actions of half the people in this book.
For some super smart science techy people, they’re really bad at finding obvious solutions. Or successfully problem-solving. Which brings us to …

I’m not sure how the TCB came up with their ultimate solution and why it was deemed as the best solution. Because it wasn’t. I can think of, like, five other solutions that would be minimally invasive, require a fraction of the work, and not upset their current loyal, determined employees. I can’t say much about it, because it’s spoilers, but needless to say, I was disappointed by this, because no reason is really given other than “because we said so.” That didn’t work for my mother, and that ain’t working here, bub. Given that this was the major conflict of the book and everything hinged off this decision, I found it a bit disappointing and underwhelming.

Given that Kin is a secret agent, I expected there to be … well, more adventure. The secret part he’s got down. Kin’s super good at that. Maybe a little too good. But the agenting part? Eh. I’m not convinced. I suppose this arises due to two simple facts:

1. While Kin’s in the past, he’s not an agent. He’s a boring humanoid like the rest of us who just happens to have slightly better reflexes than me. Which really isn’t all that difficult.

2. By the time he is an agent again, he’s on desk duty. Which is harsh, man. It also completely squashes all the hope for some agenty goodness.

I’m not saying that there was no adventure in this book, but it was significantly less than what I expected going in. In the end, I felt like it was a very slow-paced book, which relied more heavily on character interaction and emotion and less things actually happening. So … it was a sci-fi Hallmark movie I guess is what I’m saying. Which is great if you’re into that thing. But I’m not big on emotions, because evil overlords can’t be and I’m in training. I kept reading thinking something big would happen, but it just never really did.
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A time travel criminal shot Kin’s Temporal Corruption Bureau retrieval beacon, stranding him in 1996. In the two decades it took his colleagues from 2142 to find him, he built a life with a wife and daughter. Regulations force him back to the future, where he’s been missing for only weeks from his work and his fiancee. His inexplicable disappearance, and her mother’s death, sends his daughter spiraling downward. He breaches protocol, reaching out to her digitally, endangering both. Chen brilliantly maintains time travel integrity, with its possibilities and limitations, placing his main character in an organization enforcing law throughout time, with strict safety policies for agents preventing him from aiding his daughter. This is a family drama that just happens to have a time travel element—a well-written, speculative suspense novel.  I was fortunate to receive a digital copy from the publisher Mira Books through NetGalley.
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A unique entry into the time travel genre, debut author Mike Chen creates a memorable set of characters anchored by Kin, a family man hiding the fact that he is also a secret agent with the Temporal Correction Bureau (TCB).
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Kin has a wife, a teenage daughter and a job in I.T. in the San Francisco Bay Area. Everything’s pretty good except that he’s been having some dizzy spells, headaches and blackouts — which get worse every time he tries to remember his life from before he got married. He was a time traveler from the year 2142, and when he got stranded on a mission in 1996, he settled in to a new reality. He can remember almost nothing about his previous (future) life.

And then an agent from the future finally does come back to get him. The agent and the time-traveling agency both expect Kin to have avoided contact with others, not done anything to disturb the natural order of things or corrupt the timeline. So the fact that he has a wife, Heather, and daughter, Miranda, causes some consternation. At least they are allowed to live, but Kin has to leave them and return to the future — a life he hasn’t lived for 18 years — and a fiancée he doesn’t remember.

Kin slowly gets familiar with his old life, but he misses the family he can no longer be with. And his efforts to find out what happened to them, and then to stay in touch, eventually lead to serious problems for the agency and even history. His daughter is put in danger. And Kin has to decide if — and how — he can break the rules again to save her.

Here and Now and Then is a story about time travel, but it’s mostly about family and the parent-child bond. The interactions between Kin and his past family and future fiancée and friends feel real and exhibit the mix of fun, closeness and difficulties that exist in any relationship. His love for his daughter is the driving force of much of the story, and how everything plays out is sweet and poignant and fits together so nicely.
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If you love time travel books,then this is the book for you. Kin Stewart is a time agent from the year 2142 trying to prevent any timeline corruptions in the past, but when his mission gets botched,he gets stuck in the 20th century and makes a new life for himself and slowly forgets his past life. He eventually gets retrieved but they want him to forget his past and forge on with his future but how can you when you have married and have a child you love dearly and will do anything to protect her future no matter the cost. I enjoyed reading this book and it wrapped up in a satisfying if not slightly predictable way for me. Guess I watched too many Back to the Future movies😄.
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Overall this was a great book. It’s not usually what I would reach for but I quite enjoyed it. 
Although it did take awhile for me to get into it.
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Kin is a time travelling secret agent from the future. On a mission gone wrong, Kin becomes stuck in the past for eighteen years. During that time, he gets married and has a child. His daughter Miranda is a teenager when he’s finally rescued and forced to return to his own time. There he discovers his forgotten life which includes a fiancé. He cannot keep Miranda from his thoughts and breaks the rules to follow her life. When her life is endangered he must decide how much he is willing to risk to save her. This unique novel hooked me from the start and kept me reading until the end. I liked the ideas the author had about what the future could be like, and the idea of not only the possibility of time travel but time travelling secret agents hired to preserve the past. Ultimately though this was not a science fiction novel but a general fiction novel about family and relationships. I would have liked to have more details about the future itself, how time travel came about and would have liked to see Kin and Markus do a couple of missions before the one Kin had that went wrong. All in all a good story and I give it 4/5 stars.
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I loved it. That was perfect. When i read the synopsis, i was so  intrigued. I love time travel stories. Mike Chen did an amazing job. I can't wait to read more of his stories.
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This was such an interesting read from start to finish. When I first heard about this book, I was so intrigued. The premise was just too interesting to pass up. A time traveler that ends up living a double life after a series of mishaps? Yes please. And while I thoroughly enjoyed this book for the most part, there was a certain point where it just started to fall flat for me. The beginning was so interesting, as we got to see Kin's life from the incident onwards. And it still kept me reading as we got to see more of his other life. I loved the mechanics and science behind all of the time traveling. I guess that's just a thing I like in books these days. But there was a certain point in the book where things just got weird and annoying. I can't say too much because of spoilers, but Kin becomes one of the most frustrating characters. I also wasn't a fan of the ending for him, or really for anyone else. It just feels like there's something missing from it. Overall, I would recommend this book to people (and I already have, trust me), and I'm sure that others will enjoy the parts that weren't my favorite.
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Mike Chen’s debut novel Here and Now and Then begins with a man out of time. Kin Stewart is an agent for the TCB (Temporal Corruption Bureau) who gets stuck in the late 1990s when his retrieval beacon gets damaged. It takes two decades for the Bureau to find him, and by then he’s broken their cardinal rule not to mess with the past by marrying his wife Heather and fathering a daughter, Miranda. Corruption to the timeline is negligible, so the TCB allows him to return to his job and agrees to let Miranda live, as she had little effect on history. Kin longs to know how his daughter’s life turned out, and the actions he takes when he finds out puts both their lives—and the world as he knows it—at grave risk.
Here and Now and Then succeeds at all the fundamentals: strong premise, likeable characters, focused plotting, steady pacing. The novel takes few risks though. It ignores intriguing dramatic possibilities in favor of the standard action movie scenario of a father trying to rescue his daughter from certain peril, and there is minimal pulse-raising in terms of suspense and upping the stakes. It’s a pleasant and emotionally satisfying time-passer, if not very distinctive.
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I enjoyed the book due to the interesting story and because I was rooting for Kin Stewart but I had hoped for a more emotional center. Even though I understood he had these two lives, torn between two women he loved for different reasons and a daughter he refused to let go of, I found myself wanting more. I needed to have seen more of his life as a regular family man with a wife and child and then more of his relationship with his girlfriend in 2142 to feel invested in it all. Because it's not just about Kin, it's very much about the people in his life and how their lives are changed by his career as a time-traveling agent. There's a moment later in the book (too late in my opinion) where the 2142 girlfriend suddenly realizes that he's lived something else entirely separate from her and up until that point, I had been so frustrated with her and everyone in the future for not getting that. Maybe that's the point? But I think the plot, the urgency and what Kin needed/wanted would've resonated more if he had driven that point harder with everyone from the start and if we got to see more of why he couldn't let that "old" life go.
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This time-traveling story is an emotional one. Kin’s place is not easy... How can you do parenting between 2 eras? That’s what happens when your rescue team doesn’t come before 18 years and you built a life for yourself in the era that you are stuck in... and that you care so much about your kid that you break a couple of rules to make sure that she’ll be okay. I muttered to myself all throughout the book. It’s so good, and all the feels...!!!

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an review. Thank you so much!!
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Here And Now And Then is a sweet story about the lengths a father will go to to save his daughter. 
The trouble with time-travel books is that they always ask me to suspend some kind of belief, because the story always hinges on some sort of absurd premise that is somehow less believable than fairies. In Here and Now and Then the premise is that a time-traveler’s brain can only handle one era at a time. But that just doesn’t work for me. The human brain is super malleable and has the capacity and flexibility to remember lots of things about lots of time periods and living it makes it even more possible. Because of this, I bounced off of some of what makes up the central premise of the story.

That all being said, I otherwise really enjoyed Here and Now and Then quite a lot. Kin’s struggle to reconnect with his life in the future after living for 18 years in the past and his desire to stay connected to his life in the past felt real. His desperation to stay connected to his daughter and save her from forces beyond her reckoning leaked off the page. My heart broke for him over and over.

Here and Now and Then is very character driven, and the side characters are all engaging and fleshed out, with their own lives, desires and fears.

This book is so full of little twists and is thoughtfully woven together, which makes it a bit of a challenge to review, since even characters are spoilers!

I’ll just say this, if you love stories driven by love for family and are looking for a great new read and want a bit of time traveling chaos added to the mix, Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen is your book.

Also, Mike’s a super nice guy. I met him at a discussion at WorldCon last August and he was awesome. Here and Now and Then is his debut, and I can’t wait to see what he writes next.

Thank  you to Mira Books for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Enjoyed this action/adventure/love story set in the San Francisco Bay Area that spanned centuries.  Kin's struggle to reconcile two lives in two different timelines was relatable. Very satisfied with how the past helped the future without creating a Grandfather Effect.  Love, especially between fathers and daughters, truly is eternal.
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Stranded in 1990's San Francisco, time traveller Kin Stewart integrates into society and makes a life for himself, gets married and has a family. When the recovery team comes for him and returns Kin to 2142, what was 20 years for Kin has only been a week for those he left behind in the future and he struggles to stay connected to both timelines. When Kin discovers that his daughter is in danger, he does what any father would do - protect his child at any cost.

I LOVED this book! A wonderfully refreshing and engrossing read. Debut author Mike Chen deftly and elegantly weaves together sci-fi time travel and family drama into an exciting, thought-provoking, irresistible, emotional and touching read. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin - Mira for providing a digital copy in return for an honest, unbiased review.
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4.5 stars

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 definitely recommend to anyone looking for a moving adult sci-fi read that could still be enjoyable to YA readers.
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I received an ARC via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. One of my guilty pleasure movies is Timecop, the 1990s Jean Claude Van Damme movie where he works for an agency that stops people from going back in time to either try to change the present or, more commonly, try to steal money. It’s not a good movie, but JCVD punches and kicks loads of people, and Ron Silver is delightfully over the top as the villain.

Anyway, Kin Stewart, the narrator of this book, works for that agency in the year 2142, when a freak accident strands him in the 1990s. He slowly loses his memories of his future life, he falls in love, marries, has a daughter, and would have lived out his days peacefully in our time except a second freak event finally alerts the agency to his location for rescue.

To say more would spoil this entertaining, unpredictable story. There aren’t really plot ‘twists’ in the way that word is usually used. Instead, just when you become comfortable that you know where the rest of the story is building towards, that issue gets resolved and the story starts building towards a different potential climax. The rules of time travel in this book work well, even though like any time travel novel, they are contrived to fit the story being told. In this case, the book uses time travel to tell the story of a man trying to navigate having two families, like a widower or, I suppose, a bigamist. :)

Here and Now and Then has a nice balance of plot, action, and emotional depth. The characters interactions are believable and moving. A fast, enjoyable read. Recommended.
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