Monday, July 6, 2015

Audiobook Review: Glory O' Brien's History of The Future by A.S. King

  • Release Date: October 14th 2014
  • Genre: Magic Realism
  • Audiobook Hours: 7 hours and 15 minutes
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio

I picked this up from my library's Overdrive because A.S. King is pretty much an auto-buy for me. Plus Jenn and Preeti at The Bookrageous Podcast gushed about this book in their interview with King.

King's books tend to be near impossible to describe, so I'll just give the premise that is in the prologue of the book. After drinking a petrified bat (stick with me here) Glory O’Brien is able to see  people’s infinities--the lives of their ancestors and their descendants. As she starts putting the pieces of these visions together she realizes  the near future isn’t looking so great...especially for women.

King strikes a great balance between the surreal and the real. I like how she gives her characters conflicts with small personal stakes and giant stakes. In this book there is Glory’s fear of committing suicide like her mother and uncertainty about her post high school life paired with visions of a coming war.

Glory is such an interesting character, watching her journey and how she deals with all the weirdness she discovers is really great. There is a lot of talk on the bookternet about how female characters are written and Glory is this well constructed character who had so many realistic nuances . One of the things King does really well is build a community around her characters so you know where they come from and what they've been through. She writes some of the most detailed portrayals of parents I've ever seen in YA.

This book has some of the basic concepts of feminism in it and I think it is the perfect way to introduce these ideas to teens without hitting them over the head with a 2x4.  I thought it was interesting that King made Glory's Dad the feminist. I think by making the Dad a feminist King changes the way people think about what  feminist looks like. The Dad isn't a straw feminist...he is a homebody who works in IT and doesn't ever leave his house. But he is someone who believes the female bodies on television are unrealistic and that women should have the same rights as men.

Because the characters in King's book have such a strong voice I think her writing works especially well in audio. The narrator of the  audiobook is Christine Lakin who is probably best known for playing Al on the 90's sitcom Step by Step ( I was always mesmerized by the roller coaster in that intro). She has this great deep, scratchy voice that works really well for doing all kinds of voices. I really liked the voice she did for Glory’s only friend Ellie who lives  in a hippie commune across the street.

A.S. King delivers another wonderfully coming of age novel with a surreal feminist edge.

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