Would you try to change the world if you thought it had no future?
Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities — but not for Glory, who has no plan for what’s next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she’s never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way… until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person’s infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions—and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying.
A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women’s rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do everything in her power to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.
My quest for the perfect YA contemporary novel is an old story – there’s almost always something that doesn’t quite work for me – and so I’m always on the hunt for that YA author that ticks all of my boxes repeatedly, and I feel a real affinity with their work. A.S. King was an author I’d heard so much about, but I had my doubting Doris pants on, until I read Ask the Passengers in 2013….and it made my Top Ten list for the year.
Therefore, opening up Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future was a vital moment in my reading life – here was the author that I’d been told was amazing, who had written a book that I’d adored, with a new offering. Was I about to be disappointed or completely blown away?
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future is…strange. But it’s that kind of strange that automatically drags me in – it’s odd, but it’s not completely weird – there are elements that in theory shouldn’t have worked for me, yet worked extremely well, a character that is equally likeable and unlikeable, and a plot that left me with more questions than it answered. And although it’s not going to make my Top Ten 2014 list, it left me thinking for a long time after I finished it.
Glory, bought up by her reclusive artist father, her only friend being the girl who lives in the commune across the road, and with no real idea about her future, or really who she is as a person, drinks the blood of a bat and begins to see transmissions from people whenever she looks at them – particularly the pasts of their ancestors and the futures of their descendants. This part is what I particularly loved about the book – it’s a hint of a dystopian future, and how it unfolds, without actually being a dystopian novel – making for a very unique plot.
Of course, there is also Glory’s story in the present. She’s completely undecided about her own future, wanting to know more about her deceased mother, trying to help her father disconnect with the world, and sorting out her friendship with Ellie, who is more of a friend of convenience rather than compatibility in Glory’s mind.
What I loved about the previous A.S. King book that I read, and again in Glory, is that the characters are not sugar coated in any way shape or form – they have complex personal issues and personalities, their relationships are not perfect and they don’t have all the answers. Some of them are not particularly likeable, and almost all of them have ugly moments – and these are the things that will draw me back to A.S. King again and again – nothing is straightforward, and not every story has to end perfectly.