Monday, October 27, 2014

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

Summary (from Goodreads):
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.

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.
So, I practically read this whole book on one plane ride. And I absolutely need to go find all of King’s books and read them all. This is only my second book of hers (I got the ARC signed at BEA!), and I am again blown away, just blown.
It’s a weird one, and I think because of some initial weirdness it might not be for everyone. The two best friends drink a bat, literally. And because of the bat, they can now see people’s histories and futures. I guess it can sort of be comparable to being bitten by a radioactive spider?
Any way, there are some mixed reviews for this one. The two things I’ve seen mentioned a lot is that the notion of feminism is sort of shoved down your throat in a preachy way, and then there’s also slut-shaming. In regards to the first criticism, I didn’t feel like the book was preachy at all. I felt like it finally addressed some topics that have only barely skimmed the surface of other YA books. I loved having a main character who saw how other women behaved and then decided that she wanted nothing to do with it. She didn’t want her life to revolve around men, and because of this, I found myself wanting to know her and give her a high five.
And in regards to the second criticism, there is some definite slut-shaming in this book. When I first read it, I stepped back and was a little confused by the main character’s word choice. But, as the story continued, I sort of got why the words were chosen. I believe it was more of an example of how lacking in equality our culture is if even feminists feel the need to call other women/friends sluts. I don’t believe that King is at all validating this; I think she’s merely pointing out that anti-women words are a normal part of the average person’s vocabulary. And this added to the story for me. And it kind of made everything that happens, and everything that is supposed to happen in the future, even more powerful.
Any way, I loved Glory. She was not the easiest person to get along with. I get her need to push people away, and I even understood her reaction to people in general because who can grow up like that and not have issues with people? I liked that she didn’t know what she wanted to do. I liked that she didn’t know if she was crazy or not. I loved that she was into photography and it wasn’t just some fake hobby given to the main character to make them seem more interesting. Her photography references, photo journals, and way of thinking just screamed: artist/photographer to me.
I found her best friend and her family life to be super interesting. I like that Glory never thought of it as a cult before. I like that growing knowledge of her mother’s story doesn’t really defect her relationship with her friend. Like with the other book I read by this author, I loved the relationship with the father and how the two grew together to deal with their grief. The terrifying future was also really interesting. I like that Glory only got pieces/explanations for it in small doses (one stranger at a time). I was dying to know more.
I’m not sure how believable this future is for me. I’d like to think it were impossible, but I’m not so sure. It does really make me wish more women were in congress, more women were paid fairly, and more women did things for themselves and not for the attentions of a guy. This is the kind of book that you read on one plane ride. It’s also the kind of book that sticks with you long after you finish it. It would make a great book club book. I just want to talk about it with other readers so bad. It was powerful, interesting, feminist, and a little strange. I loved it. I give it a 10/10.

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