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A. S. King
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future
Little, Brown / Hachette Book Group
US Hardcover First Edition
ISBN 978-0-316-22272-3
Publication Date: 10-14-2014
320 Pages; $18
Date Reviewed: 11-04-2014
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2014

General Fiction  Science Fiction  Fantasy

We're not, each of us, singular. We are the sum of many selves, stretching from our birth to our death. A. S. King gets right to that vision when Glory O'Brien and her best friend Ellie Hefner drink a bat (not recommended!). Both are on the verge of life, about to graduate from high school. 'Glory O'Brien's History of the Future' is not the same as Ellie Hefner's, but neither is her past. King's novel explores identity and politics from an entertaining perspective.

All the charm, insight and narrative propulsion in this book come from Glory's well, glorious voice. It's a pleasure to read about a teenager who is not perfect, and has serious issues; her mother for one, and with more reason than most girls. King's vision of both the other teenagers in the book and the adults is nicely layered and textured. Nobody fades into a Peanuts babble. These are characters who are enjoyable no matter what the scenario might be.

But King's fantastic notion is fantastically well thought-out. Bat-drinking, as any other drug, affects the two of then quite differently, and Glory's visions of the future are not so beneficent as are Ellie's. 'Glory O'Brien's History of the Future' is not for the faint of heart and is distinctly, but appropriately to the character, political. Glory makes up her mind that she must record her visions, in order to prevent them from coming to pass. In older days, this was called the Cassandra complex. In glory's case, it's pure pragmatism, and deeply tied with her past and present.

The present is where most of the action unfolds, or, as it were, interaction. King's characters feel real, their visions are compelling and their predicaments, past, present and future, are well crafted even if they do include bat-drinking. The novel is interesting for its use of a supernatural trope to unspool science-fictional world building; the latter of course is simply a vision of the present as seen by a teenager. This is a point not without import. Teenagers, more than most, have a reason to live in the future; they're old enough to have an idea of what is ahead, but young enough that said idea is usually deeply flawed. 'Glory O'Brien's History of the Future' offers readers a rather hopeful vision, one of teenagers who know enough to care about how it all salts out.

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