Rogan works at her mordant theme through black comedy, in which those in authority, whether in business, politics, or religion, are shown to be maestros of euphemism, waffle, and doubletalk: Fighting is 'human kinetics,' senseless death becomes a 'magnificent contribution,' and for-profit prisons and the exploitation of inmates’ labor are 'market-based solutions.' All this talk, for all its steely bathos, is perhaps this acerbic novel’s most realistic ingredient of all.
Rogan delineates the journey from outrage to action to doubt, contrasting mundane routines with the philosophical dilemmas of ordinary people. Vested interests, including those of threatening policemen and a consoling pastor, make it difficult to do the right thing, as do complications resulting from every choice ... While the pages set in Iraq are exact and skillfully rendered, the same can’t be said of the home-front chapters. The soldiers become fuzzy proxies for Rogan to convey messages of outrage rather than fully realized young men hellbent on finding their way back.
Although the two plotlines never fully line up, they each stand completely on their own. Rogan writes successfully, and forcefully, about experiences that are foreign until they feel familiar, such as war and how combat affects individual participants ... Now and Again is an absorbing and thoroughly modern look at the way individuals attempt to grapple with ghosts of all kinds – and how they succeed.
Rogan's storytelling is multi-layered and many-faceted, but its tempo slogs at times under the weight of political rhetoric ... Maggie is confused. Many readers will be too. Rogan is to be admired for writing a novel so very different in tone and style from her first. The novel's characters ask important questions and challenge the status quo. But somewhere along the way Now and Again loses its power to teach and entertain as it sinks beneath the weight of its politics.