Saturday, December 6, 2014

Kid Konnection: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future (Audio)

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a very unique young adult book by a very special author.

Summary: 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.

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 anything to make sure this one doesn't come to pass. -- Hachette Audio

I pretty much knew I was in for a treat when I started listening to GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE by A.S. King. Ms. King is an incredible writer and I can honestly say that I have no idea how she comes up with the subjects for her books. She is extremely gifted in storytelling, and at the same time, she manages to touch upon thought-provoking and relevant issues for today's teens. It's no wonder that the New York Times Book Review has said, "A.S. King is one of the best Y.A. writers working today."

She has really outdone herself with GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE. Bear with me while I describe this novel because it's a little bit out there. But trust me... it all works beautifully. In GLORY O'BRIEN, Ms. King explores the thoughts and feelings of Glory, a girl on the brink of her high school graduation. Glory isn't really sure what she wants to do with her life, and part of the reason for that is her difficult childhood. Glory's mother committed suicide when Glory was four years old, and Glory has always wondered whether she will follow in her mother's footsteps.

Now here's the "different" part of the book.... One evening, Glory and her friend drink a dead bat's blood and begin seeing a person's past and future. For example, if Glory is shopping at the mall and looks at a stranger, she can tell about that person's ancestors as well as their future generations. Glory is overwhelmed with all of these visions, but even worse, she sees that the future of our world has some pretty terrible conditions.

There is another civil war and it's very violent. There is a horrible leader who builds an army. In addition, women's rights disappear and young girls are sold off or confined in camps. It's definitely not a pretty picture and Glory isn't sure what she can do about it. She begins to write her visions down in a notebook and hopes that it might make a difference.

Needless to say, GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE is like nothing I've ever read... not even any of Ms. King's unique stories! I mean that in the very best way though. This book is crazy good and delves into some heavy issues. I love that the author isn't afraid to face these issues head on, and even better, she isn't afraid to write to teens like the intelligent people they are.

This book was so good on so many levels. It probably goes without saying that the writing is stellar. Ms. King weaves the story back and forth between Glory's present day life and her writings about the future she sees in her visions. While I found her ideas about the future to be fascinating... and extremely scary, I loved the honestly of Glory's story. Because Glory was facing graduation, a time when many kids know the next step in their future, Glory had to deal with so many big issues. Just imagine seeing the future when you looked at strangers; however, she really needed to deal with her past -- the death of her mother -- before she could move forward in her own life.

The future in this novel is one that definitely made me think, and I'm certain that was Ms. King's intent. I would love to see schools, mom/daughter book clubs, and teen book clubs discuss this novel. There are just so many relevant facets of the story including decisions, future, changes, death, grief, loss, friendship, suicide, healing, and more that teens should explore. In addition, there is quite a bit of social commentary on the state of the future world... and our country's past.

I listened to the audiobook of GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE and it was very good. The novel was read by Christine Lakin and she did a great job especially with Glory's voice. Since the story was told in first person, much of the book was Glory's voice; however, she also did a few other voices including Glory's father and her friend. I found her to be very pleasing to listen to.

GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE is an outstanding read -- both entertaining and thought-provoking. Most highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this audiobook.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Beth F said...

I like AS King, but for some reason I missed this one. I'll add it to my list.

bermudaonion said...

I think A. S. King is brilliant and can make just about any plot work. It sounds like she's written another winner!

Tea said...

I would like to read this one. Thanks for a good review. I see now we can use YAs too. Enjoy the week.

The Reading Date said...

I have the audio of this book too- thanks for the reminder that I need to get listening! Especially since I'm a fan of both King and Lakin. I think my teen and I will both enjoy this one!

Suko said...

This really does sound excellent! I don't read enough YA, and have not read anything by A.S. King yet. Terrific, enthusiastic review!