Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future
By A.S. King, read by Christine Lakin
Published 2014 by Blackstone Audiobooks

Glory has no plans for her future. What if she doesn't have one? Her mother did stick her head in the oven, and that kind of thing runs in families. But when Glory and her best friend drink a petrified bat (or maybe it's mummified?), they begin having visions of the future. Now Glory will know for certain if she has one - but will it be one she wants?

I'm pretty sure I'll read anything A.S. King publishes. I listened to this one for YALSA's Hub Challenge and I'm very glad I did.

I loved this book. For quite a while, I wasn't sure if I would. I mean, it's pretty strange. A girl and her friend drink the remains of a bat and begin having visions of a dystopian future - it's definitely out there. And most of King's books have some sort of out there element. But this one just hit all the right notes for me. I loved Glory and her mixed feelings about her mother (about whom no one talks, including her dad). I like that Glory does not want to get close to anyone, which includes the readers. She is complicated and angry and unsure - she feels very much like a real teenager. I think King did a fantastic job of exploring Glory's grief - maybe because an immediate member of family passed away, I'm always conscious of the way grief is portrayed in books for young people. King captures the complicated experience of grief really well. I really liked reading about Glory's experiments with photography and the discovery of her mother through her photography notebook. I thought the other characters were developed nicely as well - from Glory's father to her best friend to her best friend's mother and more. Every one is unique and feels real, like I could meet them on the street someday.

I thought the plot here was exceptional. Magical realism can sometimes be hit or miss for me, but it was completely engaging this time around. Glory's visions of the future were kind of like a car accident - horrible but I couldn't look away. How does the world end up looking like she sees it? What is Glory's part in the history of the future? Can she find a way to change it or is everything already in motion? Really gripping stuff. And, of course, I can't help but love the feminism in this book. King knows how important it is that the young people of today care about the injustices around them and she clearly wants to foster a desire to correct these injustices. This book reminded me of how much I wanted to change the world when I was younger and made me feel guilty for not continuing that nowadays.

I thought the audio was really well done. I worried initially that this kind of story wouldn't work for me on audio - sometimes I lost focus while listening. But the narrator for this was perfect. She sounded exactly right for Glory's voice and the short chapters and awesome story definitely held my interest the whole way through. In fact, I sped through this, finding excuses to listen whenever I could. Highly recommended.

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