Sunday, October 5, 2014

The End of the World as We Know It: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King
Little, Brown, Expected Release Date: October 14, 2014

*E-Galley provided by the publisher via Edelweiss - this in no way impacts my thoughts on this book*

Glory O'Brien should be excited, right? After all, she's finally graduating from high school. She can finally do what ever she wants. Only she doesn't know what she wants. She has no plans. No college she's heading off to in the fall. No friends besides Jasmine who lives on the weird hippie commune next door. No family pressuring her to do anything - her mother committed suicide when she was four and her father never recovered. But then again, neither has Glory, who has always wondered if she's destined for the same thing especially once the visions start. One extraordinary night, Glory begins to see transmissions anytime she looks at people, a harrowing look into the future. A future where any rights women have left vanish, another civil war breaks out, young girls are sold, and Glory can't see a future for herself at all. So begins Glory's quest to document the history of the future, but can one 17 year old girl stop the end of the world, even before it starts?

When I first heard about the premise for this book back in 2013, I was immediately intrigued. King is a loud and proud feminist, passionate about women's rights, yet it's not a topic that has ever been at the center of her previous works. What I got was a surprising story, well crafted and imaginative, and the most reminiscent of King's literary idol, Kurt Vonnegut. King has an incredible ability to paint a picture with her words while still being sparse. She's not one for flowery language or lush description, and it is in that way that her prose can be poetic - every word packs a punch.

It took me a while to get into this story. The novel, divided into smaller books, had a slower pace to start. It wasn't until page 50 that readers actually get to the experience that grants Glory her extraordinary ability. Once this happens, things get much more interesting very quickly. This was also the first of King's novels I've read in which I found myself a bit taken aback by the language and situations in the story. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with swearing or strong language in YA books, but sometimes I did find myself thinking "did she have to say it like that?" Of course, every word helps shape the story into what it is, so in some ways the answer is "yes, she did," however I will say that as a librarian, it is something I will keep in mind when talking about this book to students and will be upfront with them about it from the start. I don't believe in censoring, and with that comes being honest with my students and staff, speaking as one reader to another.

Did this book speak to me as strongly as some of King's other books? Not quite. However, just because I didn't connect with some aspects of it doesn't mean others won't. I can still recognize that this is a fantastic work and I know many people are going to devour this book and its message. Let us all hope that Glory's visions never come true, but for that to happen, we must all work on reshaping the history of the future today.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

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