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

I love A.S. King! Yes, I know, I've been a total fanboy since I first read the beautiful, the brave, the fantastic Ask the Passengers (2012). After that, I sort of went on a bender of King's novels and have yet to be disappointed. However, I don't want this to turn into a total gushing session where all I talk about is how I want to have King's babies, so I'll move on to my review.
     So we drank it—the two of us. Ellie drank it first and acted like it tasted good. I followed. And it wasn't half bad. 
     When we woke up the next morning, everything was different. We could see the future. We could see the past. We could see everything.      
     You might say, "Why did you drink a bat?" Or, "Who would do that?"  
     But we weren't thinking about it at the time. It's like being on a fast train that crashes and someone asking you why you didn't jump before it crashed.
After reading a few reviews on Goodreads (always a bad idea, but I did it anyway) I realized that this sort of opening may not really appeal to all audiences. But believe me, even if you're weirded out by the idea of consuming a bat, the novel is WAY more than that! I also didn't expect to be confronted with so many wonderfully feminist ideals within these pages (Note to self: Propose feminism in YA course for next year.) LOVE IT!

Glory O'Brien is a fully wrought character, fuelled by questions about life: history and the future, haunted by the memory of her mother sticking her own head in the oven. Glory is a self-identified feminist, and while not everyone understands (her Aunt Amy for instance), her parents brought her up to be concerned about the treatment of women, not just in the past and present, but into the future.
     Amy always had a way of going over the top because I told her I was a feminist when I was twelve, and she told Dad he'd brainwashed me into being some sort of half-boy.
     Which was bullshit. I was not a half-boy. I was still totally myself. I just wanted Aunt Amy  to get paid as much as a man if ever she got off her lazy ass and got a job.
After Glory and Ellie drank the bat—the one truly bizarre moment in the story that may take a bit for some readers to get past—and they begin to see the future, Glory witnesses a future in which women are even further mistreated than they currently are. The frightening and truly horrific part of this whole portion of the story is that it is not out of the realm of possibility, considering the position of certain right-leaning political groups in relation to women's rights.

Aside from the feminist leanings of the overall narrative, King covers war, repeating history, complicated family histories, and the importance of discovering yourself before moving forward in life. Glory's journey to discover more about her mother and the reasons for her suicide, while momentarily derailed by transmissions of future events, is poignant and emotionally fulfilling. King's writing style and insights into the teenage experience will keep readers intrigued until the very end.

As a side note, I love this moment in King's Acknowledgements at the end of the novel:
I realize I have used an eight-letter F word in this book that some may not like. (Hint: It ends with eminist.) I want to thank my parents for raising me with that F word and for not succumbing to the consumerist pink nonsense that was shoved toward them from every direction as they raised three daughters.
Highly Recommended

(Note: This review is from and Advanced Reading Copy - Out October 2014)


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