Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

What it’s about (no spoilers):  Part dystopic fiction, part feminist manifesto, this YA coming of age story finds Glory O’Brien at a crossroads. Her young life has been defined by a tragedy. Now, facing high school graduation with no plans and only one uncertain friendship, she wonders if she is careening toward her own tragic end.

Glory is trying to escape the inertia that has brought her to this point, but continues to fall into the same patterns of behavior with the two people closest to her, her father and her best friend.  It is in this spirit of disinterested compliance that she participates in a half-baked ceremony that she believes signifies nothing.  Interestingly, the ceremony results in an unasked-for ability to glimpse into the lives of the ancestors and descendants of any person she makes eye contact with.  As Glory struggles to make sense of this newfound ability and its implications, her visions of the future become more specific and disturbing.  Is this ability a gift or a curse?  And why can she see everyone’s future but her own?

 

What I thought:  I enjoyed this book a lot. The chapters are short and the perspective moves between Glory’s thoughts, her writings, and her mother’s writings, making for a quick and interesting read.  The characters are imperfect and therefore relatable even though some of them are kind of kooky and outside of my personal experiences.  The dystopic future is a little heavy handed, but I’ll give it a pass because this is a YA book and because King does a great job of setting it up.

Photography features heavily in the story and I believe there was a missed opportunity to use stark images, possibly even vintage photos ala Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, to support the story telling.  The absence of images doesn’t detract from the story though, and I understand why an author might choose to let you conjure the images on your own.

 

You can find a complete list of my 2016 reads with links to reviews here.  I’m always looking for recommendations!

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