Quick review for a quick read. “Glory O’ Brien’s History of the Future” is a novel that tugged at my heartstrings in very key moments, but ultimately, I thought the novel had mixed execution for the aim it went for. I ended up reading this after “Still Life With Tornado” which had a similar thematic that played with timelines and magical realism.
This book deals with Glory’s experiences in dealing with her fractured family and relationships following her high school graduation. When Glory and her best friend end up drinking the ashes of a petrified bat, they end up having visions of the future and past for every person they look upon. There’s a dystopian-esque, bleak future painted within Glory’s vision for the future world, and she tries to weigh what it all means relative to the people around her and her own role in the future to come. It’s an interesting concept, though not nearly as intimate or concrete for execution as I would’ve loved. Some parts were excellent in presentation, because I knew it tied into a lot of the pains that Glory’s going through – her mother’s suicide, falling out of favor with her best friend, struggling to deal with certain events in her past and present. I really enjoyed Glory’s prominent voice and nuances, though some moments are difficult to read through since she’s struggling with the present moralities. I appreciated that she was shown actively weighing the balance of such moralities throughout the narrative. It made Glory feel real and like a teenager just trying to see things through things that were intimate to her experiences and relationships.
I think the pacing of the novel was something of a slow-burn, slice of life drama with a magical realistic twist, so those who might want something that moves a bit more quickly or with direct conflicts may find parts of this narrative difficult to move through. I enjoyed it more from the audiobook narration of Christine Lankin, whose performance adds to the emotion and personality into each of the variant characters and events here. In the end, I liked the read, but I felt like it might’ve went too broad in scope to really have as much of the impact it was aiming for. It’s an ambitious book, one I think teens would enjoy, for sure, though I think the execution varied in quality through the narrative.
Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.