A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{December 9, 2014}   Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

glory Plot: Glory O’Brien is still haunted by her mother’s suicide and it colours her perception of her future. But one day she gains the ability to see the future, and the past, for real. She sees it in little glimpses in the people she meets. To make sense of her new, unwelcome power – and perhaps to change what is to come – she decides to write a history of the future.

Wow. I don’t know where else to start. I loved this book. The themes that King addresses – distopias, seeing the future, suicide, false friends – aren’t new but the ways in which she structures and writes them had me madly turning pages.

There are three main timelines in the novel: the events leading to Glory’s mother’s suicide, Glory’s graduation from high school and a distopian future right out of The Handmaid’s Tale (spoiler: it’s no fun for us women). Glory investigates the past through her mother’s photo albums and the future with her new power while trying to avoid the questions of what she will do after graduation and how to get rid of a best friend she doesn’t actually like. That’s a recipe from conflict and shocking revelations and it more than delivers. The actual novel also contains chapters from the fictional history that Glory is writing, a story that I would love to read by itself but which gains added depth and meaning from the frame of Glory’s  narrative.

I loved Glory as a character. She’s complex, curious, anti-social and in pain. Glory’s whole life is shadowed by her mother. There is her mother’s suicide, of course. She wants to understand what lead to it, she wants to understand the oven shaped hole it has left in her family’s life and most of all, she wants to know if it’s genetic. But there is also photography, her mother’s profession and the way that Glory chooses to understand the world. All this complexity in the main character could have been enough but King fascinating gives depth to all her characters from Glory’s heart-broken father to the manipulative commune leader across the street.

And I loved the chapter titles, just in case I haven’t praised the novel enough.

A.S. King is a great writer, doing fascinating and innovative things in YA literature and I plan to read everything she’s ever written. She is already a new favorite of mine.

2014 (#61)


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