- Author: A.S. King
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company Pub date: 2014
- Intended for: Ages 15+
- Perfect for: Teens! Anyone who likes a politically-charged novel.
A.S. King is one of my absolute favorite young adult writers. I read Everybody Sees the Ants years ago and was blown away. I had stayed away from her earlier novel, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, for a stupid reason…I didn’t like the title and I didn’t like the cover. Together, they didn’t make me want to pick it up. Until I read Everybody See the Ants. Then I went back and read Vera Dietz and it is now one of my favorite YA novels ever.
So I was pretty excited that the author had a new book coming out and was excited to get a copy of it for my birthday.
I’ll admit that most of the way through the book I was thinking, “This book is just weird.” Because I’ll tell ya…it is a little weird. It’s weird in that the main character, Glory O’Brien, drinks the remains of a mummified bat with her best friend just days before she graduates high school and this allows her and Ellie to have special powers. When they make eye contact with people, they can see things about the past and future of these people. Glory sees some really disturbing stuff about a second Civil War in the United States and how laws are passed saying that women are no longer allowed to work (that way they don’t have to be given the same pay as men), which leads to the kidnapping and trading of women and children, which leads to nothing good, as you can imagine.
So as I said, I’m reading the book and thinking it’s just strange (although well-written and compelling to read). But then I finish it and realize something. A.S. King has done it again! Somehow the author is able to write such honest truths about teens (and adults) and life and friendship and fragile emotional states and make it interesting and never didactic.
In the book, Glory O’Brien is at a crossroads because she is about to graduate high school and doesn’t know if she has a future. She has been dealing with the effects of her mother’s suicide—who killed herself when Glory was just four years old—and wonders if she is destined to have the same fate. Ellie, who has been her best friend since childhood, lives on a hippie commune across the street from Glory and Glory is wondering if she even wants Ellie as a friend anymore. Her father, a former artist, just sits on the couch all day as he works from home answering IT calls. And no one will talk to Glory about the huge elephant in the room—her mother’s suicide.
Once Glory drinks the bat and begins having these transmissions from people, she realizes that she does in fact have a future and she is in charge of it! It all stems from something her mother wrote that makes all the sense in the world to her: Not living your life is just like killing yourself, only it takes longer.
I think A.S. King’s writing gets right to the heart of so many things that teens are struggling with: the nature of friendships and who is propelling you forward and who is holding you back, what to do with yourself when the future is wide open, and how to deal with issues that feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.
Even with all of these heavy things running through the novel, there is something there at the end that she beautifully writes into all of her novels…HOPE. It’s that glint of a silver lining in life that she gives to readers and she always finds a way to incorporate it into her books. So at the end of another A.S. King novel I had a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes, a smile on my face, and her ideas running through my head. I heart A.S. King.