Author: A.S. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: Magical Realism, Recipe for awesomesauce
WOULD YOU TRY TO CHANGE THE WORLD IF YOU THOUGHT YOU 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. In this masterpiece about freedom, feminism, and destiny, Printz Honor author A.S. King tells the epic story of a girl coping with devastating loss at long last—a girl who has no idea that the future needs her, and that the present needs her even more.
The train is yours. You don’t have to go anywhere you don’t want to. You don’t have to pick up any passengers or cargo. You can go it alone. Sometimes there will be tunnels. Sometimes there will be baking sunlight. It all depends on where you steer.
Glory’s story is in stages, whose lines are difficult for me to demarcate with relevance to the progression of the story itself. However when it comes to Glory and myself, there were phases we went through together, not mutually exclusive but to some degree dynamic, which I’ve outlined below.
Starting with, Glory had a clinical, mechanistic narrative that was simply unpalatable for me. I have a confession: I have problems making connections, with people or stories or songs. And as such, I have to work hard, shedding metaphoric tears and snot and blood, in my endeavors. Consequently, I’m predisposed against character voices that are so compact to allow for cynicism that any vitality or shadow or person in moulding is mooched out. Shutting the book in her face was an idea but I persevered because:
a. She eats God aka Max Black the Bat.
b. She can see the future.
In the following chapters, after Max Black’s dusty innards had invaded her system, Glory had time in her hands: past, present and future of the world were hers. Obviously, this leads to mud and rains in her life but surprise! feelings start to trickle in, serving to further and leading to actual changes in her character and life. These were rather subtle, I think, and I can only appreciate them in retrospect.
This. Was. Bloody. Marvelous.
In a gentle slope of a conclusion, A. S. King had me smiling, not because any particular disaster had been averted (beware the future!) but that Glory had changed, transformed. At the end of this story, she was looking towards a future she’d been unable to see, not even with Max Black’s help. (And I chanced upon the fact that I’d actually connected with her. DUH. ALL PRAISE GOD!)
Now that I have shared my miraculous transfiguration, I should point out that Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future was stretched out in all kinds different directions the book wanted to take, and sadly, none of them panned out too well. For instance, the feminism incorporated(yay!) and recognition of our societal issues with the same are things I’d like to see more of. However, in Glory’s story, it seemed to want to say something more than the obvious “our society is fucked up” line with her dead mother’s curlicue writings and clickings. I did not get it.
While we’re on the subject of her dead mother, I admit that I didn’t really care for her. As a person, albeit a dead one, I never saw her portrayal as true; to me, she was just checking several boxes. Yet her death and she herself added complications which helped Glory grow (yay!) so I’m complaining. Much.
Because see, that’s the entire point of Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future: Glory growing, no matter what else you(or she) encounter on the way to the end.
Glory can see the stream of time but her own future has no transmissions for her. Her past inhibits her future so she’s stuck in the present she is whiling away for no specific reason. Not even God aka Max Black the Bat can’t help her with that. Yet despite the the transmissions of a future she’ll not partake of, Glory inadvertently beings to crave and one for herself. Whatever else it might have been, it was gratifying and genius.
I didn’t love each moment of the story but for every page I read, I am grateful. A.S. King has outdone herself-orrrrrrrr maybe not. There’s still Please Ignore Vera Dietz to compete with. Regardless, somebody is glad she didn’t give up on the book and I think that somebody is vair vair smart. 😄
Then I printed the picture of me in that bat glasses. It was so badass. I taped it into The History of the Future and wrote: Glory O’Brien, spoiler, Mad at the World.