Review of Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future

king_glory o'brien_170x255star2 Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future
by A. S. King
High School   Little, Brown   309 pp.
10/14   978-0-316-22272-3   $18.00
e-book ed. 978-0-316-22274-7   $9.99

Still haunted by her mother’s suicide years ago, seventeen-year-old Glory is certain she’ll die young, too, and can envision no future for herself. Until, that is, she ingests dessicated bat remains and begins receiving eerie “transmissions” from people around her — details about and images of their ancestors and/or descendants. The scenes from the future depict a shocking Second Civil War, sparked by rampant institutional misogyny, in which a white-haired Glory is a prominent rebel fighter. Maybe she does have a life ahead of her after all. As in King’s Ask the Passengers (rev. 1/13) and Everybody Sees the Ants (rev. 1/12), magical realism serves to broaden the novel’s societal critique (of parasitic friendships, dysfunctional families, and anti-feminism), expanding the book’s purview and allowing Glory to comment on the past, present, and future. Again, the protagonist is deeply scarred yet buoyed by a wry sense of humor and a thoughtful intelligence; again, mysterious (and fascinating) visions provide the struggling teen with hope and a reason to live. Glory has always gotten crap for being a feminist (“Why did everyone mix up that word so much?”) — but it will make her important to the future uprising; instead of following in her mother’s footsteps, she now knows she’s destined for a long, and meaningful, life. King’s distinctive approach to fashioning a story of adolescent strife results in a book that’s not only thoroughly original but also uniquely compelling and deeply memorable.

From the January/February 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jennifer M. Brabander

Jennifer M. Brabander is former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature from Simmons University.

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