Cover of Glory Obrien's, a black and white picture of a girl with dark short bangs looking over the top of a book

About the Book

Title: Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future
Published: 2014
Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Cover Story: Artsy Big Face
BFF Charm: Yay!
Talky Talk: A. S. King, Mofos!
Bonus Factors: Feminism, Photography
Relationship Status: Sister Suffragettes

Cover Story: Artsy Big Face

I’m gonna let this Big Face slide, because the composition of the image is very much in line with Glory’s photography obsession. And also because BANGS.

The Deal:

A.S. King always makes this portion of the book report a challenge (in a good way), and this novel is no exception. The story begins when Glory and her friend Ellie drink a bat, and then they start seeing the future.

No, seriously. That’s the premise of this book.

That should be enough to sell you, but here’s more details anyway. Glory and her father both live in the shadow of her mother’s suicide fourteen years prior, and Glory isn’t sure how to move on now that she’s about to graduate from high school. Meanwhile, Ellie is stuck living in a commune, and her urge to escape is heightened when she discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her. So, one night, when she drunkenly suggests that she and Glory drink the ashes of a petrified bat as cosmic “eff you,” the girls chug it down with some beer, only to awake the next day with the power to see a person’s future (and past) with one glance. Here’s how Glory explains it:

I couldn’t answer Peter’s question right away. What do you think makes you different? What made me different was I could see people’s infinities. What made me different was that I drank God and had become God. Or I drank a bat and had become a bat. You choose.

And those infinities? They’re pointing to a world where women are powerless, a world that’s terrifying to Glory–especially because while she can see the future, she’s not sure if she can change it.

BFF Charm: Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

Glory is a loner, so getting to be inside her head felt like a treat. She’s smart as a whip, and her melancholy disposition is balanced out by a steely backbone and a gift for being truly present. Even before she drinks the bat, Glory sees an emotional dimension in even the most common of situations and objects, then captures it with her mind and, sometimes, her camera. I love the way she experiences the world, and I would be honored to be part of her future, where I know she will certainly kick ass and take names.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Given that men behave quite badly in Glory’s visions, this book doesn’t engender much of a romantic vibe, but Glory does meet a certain gentleman with promise. He’s a little too hippy dippy for my taste, but his positive attitude is an excellent compliment to Glory’s pensive demeanor.

Talky Talk: A.S. King, Mofos!

There’s no one out there who writes quite like A.S. Mothercussing King. She’s a straight shooter whose words hit you right in the gut, and she’s never afraid to take risks. I mean, you read the premise. This book is insane, and yet nothing about it feels that way. Glory’s voice is piercing, with a compelling eccentricity and a charming sort of frankness, while her visions of the future are absolutely chilling. There’s certainly a feminist agenda ingrained in these pages, but this isn’t an Issue Book–it’s a portrait of a girl mourning her mother and learning to become who she wants to be.

I guess I shouldn’t complain, because I love having a new A.S. King book to read every year, but there were moments in the story when I wish she’d taken more of her sweet time. Maybe it was my own curiosity about the future world, or maybe I just wanted to see Glory fully blossom, but I feel like this novel and I have some unfinished business between us.

Bonus Factor: Feminism

Raised fists in different skin tones wearing nail polish

I guess you could say this about every A.S. King novel, but this book should be required reading in high schools around the world. Glory’s future is enlightening, while her present is incredibly empowering.

I mean, honestly, this review could’ve just been one word: PREACH.

Bonus Factor: Photography

Woman holding a camera up to her eye.

Although Glory is terrified of following in the suicidal footsteps of her mother, she embraces her passion for photography, and her reflections on the art and science of taking pictures aren’t just interesting, they’re moving expressions of her inner turmoil.

You didn’t want to blow out the highlights, and you had to give the shadows all the detail you could by finding the darkest max black areas and then shooting them three zones lighter.

By shooting the darkest areas three zones lighter, you turned a black, lifeless max black zone 0 into a zone 3.

I think, in life, most of us did this all the time.

You essentially called a woman in the oven “unhappy.” You called her “frustrated.” And you called the family who was left over “grieving.” You called them “hanging in there.” You called them “dealing with it pretty well.”

Relationship Status: Sister Suffragettes

Book, you’re daring, dynamic and downright inspiring. I wish we’d had time to develop a deeper connection, but I’m tremendously grateful that we crossed paths. Thanks for fighting the good fight!

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Little, Brown.  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!).

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.