DNF Review: Here and Now and Then – Your Name Is What Now?


Title: Here and Now and Then
Author: Mike Chen
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: January 29th, 2019
Genre(s): Sci-Fi
Subjects and Themes: Time Travel, Families
Page Count: 336 (hardback)

Rating: DNF @ 37%

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Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

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.

Their mission: return Kin to 2142, where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember.

Torn between two lives, Kin is 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


So this wasn’t exactly the feel-good time travel drama that I’d had in mind.

And I’m starting to think that I’m setting too-high standards for these time travel stories because I haven’t been impressed with the majority of the ones I read in the past year.

Long story short, while I liked how readable and snappy the writing is, I felt the story lacked in-depth exploration into not only the future world and the time travel agency, but also the characters and their relationships.

There are too many details that I found silly and/or scientifically wobbly, like the invention of a metabolizer that increases human life span by a whopping 200 years that will come about in 100 years from now, which seems far too soon; the concept that our brains can’t handle memories of two time periods and no real explanation as to why; the fact that our protagonist’s full name is Quinoa due to a food-name fad that happens sometime in the future; the notion that this big important agency doesn’t have set protocols for when an agent gets stuck in a timeline; and the idea that the U.S. in the future is doing secret collaborative time travel projects with Australia of all countries (nothing against Aussies! It’s just not very plausible). It’s all just so…arbitrary and quirky for the sake of being quirky–like something out of a children’s cartoon.

Okay, so this is one of those goofy light-scifi stories. Not what I expected, but fair enough. At least the characters are interesting, right?

Well, I thought the characters’ actions were baffling and nonsensical so I guess technically that could be construed as “interesting.”

For example, there’s a scene near the beginning where Kin is worried that the agency will terminate his 1996 family and he has a lightbulb moment where he decides he’s going to run away alone, which makes absolutely no sense considering how the agency already knows where they live and can take them as hostages to lure him back.

Moreover, there’s little chemistry between Kin and his wife and daughter, and this takes the emotional impact out of some of the later events.

And speaking of later events…


Kin ends up returning to his original timeline but then finds out that his wife dies just a few months after his departure. So he decides to retroactively send an email to his daughter (dated one day after his wife’s death) which begins with this line:

“First off, I am so incredibly sorry about what has happened to Mom and that you are suffering alone.”

That is a letter you might send to a coworker or an acquaintance when they’re in a rough spot (in fact, an acquaintance did send me a similar e-mail after I was in the hospital for suicidal reasons and that had ten times the emotion of Kin’s version). And even then the “first off” makes it sound flippant–like you have more important topics to get to. It’s definitely not the letter a grieving man would (or should) write to his grieving daughter that he unwittingly abandoned.

It’s a detail that just really bothered me and it underscores the feeling that these characters don’t behave as normal humans would.

I think I’m in the minority of opinions, though. So if you crave soap opera-y family dramas with light sci-fi elements then you might want to give this one a try. It wasn’t to be for me, unfortunately.


Review copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

24 thoughts on “DNF Review: Here and Now and Then – Your Name Is What Now?

  1. thebookwormdrinketh says:

    There’s always call for some suspension of belief… I honestly don’t think this one sounds too terrible! (although, I won’t be running out to read it… Too many books, too little time!)
    You say that some things weren’t explained, but, could they have been in the reat of the book? 37% isn’t even half way… Maybe it redeems itself? 🤔
    Also, you don’t think there will be a food name fad?? Does as someone who worked in retail for many years you meet a lot of people, with a lot of weird names…. I have met little Vulcan (Star Trek), Sephiroth (Final Fantasy), Zaphan Athena (… Who knows?). Hell, my own nephew is a colour! (Hunter Green). Gwenyth Paltrow has already named her kid Apple… I can ABSOLUTELY picture little Quinoa and Kale not far behind!! 😂😂🍻
    P.S. I’m not trying to pick on you darlin. 😘


    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Ahahaahahah playing the devil’s advocate, are we??? I love it, keeps me humble 😉 😂 I’m PRETTY sure this is a ‘me’ thing, where I come into these time travel books wanting scientifically robust explanations for things from the getgo (I blame my job/studies!) And also I apparently hate lighthearted and silly books if my best of 2018 list is anything to go by…(Just. So. Much. Sadness) 😂 So I can totally see it working out for other people!! It’s the MC that just REALLY annoyed me in the end, I think.

      And uhhhh your life is CLEARLY more interesting than mine if you’ve actually met someone named Sephiroth??? Holy crap, what a blessed individual!!! And you know what, fair enough. There’s some kid named Pilot Inspector out there, who am I to bash on “Quinoa”? 😀 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • thebookwormdrinketh says:

        Devil’s Advocate…. Me?? 😇😇
        Thank you for taking it in stride, dear. I only tease! Ha ha! Although, I do love me a cute read requiring some suspension of belief! … I’ve never been one for the deep sadness… And I do LOVE playing Devil’s Advocate. 😘


  2. waytoofantasy says:

    Great review! Time travel stuff is such a mixed bag and really always has something that just doesn’t make sense…because time travel is wonky to begin with. Not sure if this one will be a good fit for me but I kind of want to check it out at some point anyway since I’m always interested in time travel stuff. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Norrie says:

    I saw the first review about this maybe 20-30 min ago and already decided i don’t wanna read it. Sounded too stressful for my taste 😀 Haha.
    So i read the spoiler. LOL. Indeed. What’s up with that message?


  4. Papertea and Bookflowers says:

    Great review! All the things you mentioned sound like things that would annoy me, too. Especially the running away alone? Like, I agree, that doesn’t make any sense. Or that the agency doesn’t have a protocol??

    It’s funny though because just two days ago I read a 5 Star review that made me think I should check this book out.
    I don’t think I will now … It’s my pet peeve when I can’t understand why characters do something/when they do something stupid. And when scientific things don’t really science very well (sorry, I’m tired and words don’t want to work with me right now^^)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Maybe check out the sampler and see if the writing works out for you! Because there’s quite a few people who loved the book, and apparently the father-daughter relationship gets more interesting and in-depth in the second half the story (though I feel like that’s too long a wait).

      “When scientific things don’t really science very well.” I love that XD


  5. maddalena@spaceandsorcery says:

    Time travel stories don’t hold a stellar record with me, since they often fell short of the mark and left me with a bad aftertaste, so I try to be very careful around them. It’s a pity this one did not work out for you, because the premise sounds interesting, but I understand how the lack of plausible explanations or – worse – foolish character choices might turn you away from the story.


  6. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious says:

    Great review, Kathy! I loved this one but for me I liked that the story was more focused on the family and people rather than explaining the future or technology, it kind of felt more like a contemporary – which I don’t normally read but it worked for me here.

    I totally understand where you are coming from with the chemistry for Kin and his family – it was slow to develop but it does as the story progresses and I wound up very invested.


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