Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

Posted January 23, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

by A. S. King

Publisher: Little Brown and Company on January 1, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, Dystopia, Magical Realism, Supernatural
Target Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: ★★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

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.


I have not devoured a book as hungrily as I devoured Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future in a LONG time.  Especially a hardcopy book.

There are a couple kinds of book reviews – ones that break down the mechanics of a book and offer a stiff, analytical perspective… and ones that unapologetically gush over a book because the story was just that good.  I love the latter, and that’s what this review is going to be.  I unabashedly loved Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future and I’m not sorry.

First, a note:  this book is a bit odd.  I mean, it starts off with two seventeen-year-olds ingesting a mummified bat, so… you know, life choices.  I absolutely adore books with characters who are not the type of people you would normally pluck off the street in a Disney movie, so Glory’s tragic past and Ellie’s uncomfortable present appealed to me immensely.  Glory’s a sort of no-nonsense kind of girl.  While she’s bitter and jaded, she’s not cookie-cutter sarcastic-broken-contemporary-protagonist.  The supernatural elements were great.  Subtle, but great.  They made the story, but also didn’t get in the way of the story.  And the girls handled things in such a realistic way.  No dramatic reactions, no over-the-top superhero antics.  I loved the realism in it, all the while acknowledging that this was not your typical situation and not your typical cast of characters.

There were so many raw moments and quotes I jotted down because they were honest and relatable.

I rooted for the subtle but rewarding, slow burning, slightly unresolved love story.  Relationships progressed naturally, and for once, it felt like a healthy YA relationship.  Glory’s, not Ellie’s. Ellie’s love life was a heap of burning garbage.

I liked the messy, confusing friendship.  Friendships, especially long-standing ones, are complicated and not always pretty.  Ellie and Glory’s back-and-forth made so much sense to me.  Friendship isn’t always bubbles and mani-pedis.  A lot of them are complicated and the power shifts all the time and you can love one of your friends but discover you don’t really like them.

Themes and messages woven into Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future were so fantastically good.  Feminism, politics, human interactions, moral dilemmas, empowerment… all were interesting and nothing felt preachy.  I was a thing that was happening and that was that and at no time did I feel like this book existed to drive action.  At the end of the day, it was a novel that gave a nudge at a little more awareness, a gentle reminder not to be a crappy human.

Also.  I love a protagonist who is a photographer, I really do.

I’m blabbering and rambling.  I really, really enjoyed this book.  Because of the bit of oddity to it, it reminds me of books like Special Topics in Calamity Physics and because of that, I know that Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future will not be for everyone.  I loved it.  I loved it so much.  But it’s not your typical YA and is best for readers who like low-key slow burn stories with intellectual puzzles, untraditional characters, and strange elements.  The writing was really good, but the topics and their presentation would probably turn off readers who have gotten used to the sort of style most YA comes in these days.  It just felt so much more earthy and raw than most of what I read and what I see.  I repeat:  there’s nothing wrong with it.  It’s really good.  But it is so different that it stands out.

Good for fans of John Green and Marisha Pessl.  Maybe.  I don’t know.  I really liked it.  Try it if you are feeling brave or want something a little different.  It’s a little dark and gritty, it has the edge of an incoming dystopia.  It’s so good.  But I can’t promise you’ll like it as much as I did.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★★


Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future stays on the shelf.

If my bubbling, scattered, excited review above didn’t already hit this pretty clearly… I loved this book.  I loved it, and I am so looking forward to reading it again.  As of writing this, I finished the book less than an hour ago and I’m still reeling in delight.  I want more.  I want to add all of A.S. King’s books to my TBR.

You better believe I am going to read this book again.  And again.  And again.


Have you stumbled across any books you love, but don’t know how to recommend because they feel so niche?  If so, you’ve come to the right place!  I usually LOVE those types of books and would love to read more… so throw your recommendations in the comments!

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