Book Reviews

Review: The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

The Book of M was so many things – entrancing, thought provoking, and absolutely heart warming. I can’t believe that this is Shepherd’s debut because it is just so gorgeously done.

Summary

One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.

Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.

Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless.

As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.

Review

book review the book of m by peng shepherdThe Book of M demands to be read. It’s one of those books that totally pulls you in. Not only do you need to find out what happens next, but the world sucks you in. Everything from the premise, to the characters, to the way the plot evolves makes it impossible not to turn to the next page. How is this Shepherd’s debut? It’s so amazingly good and complex! It’s a love story, a survival story, a story that reveals the strength and resilience of humanity in the face of the unknown and the forgetting.

If the whole concept of losing your shadow and forgetting things doesn’t hook you, then I don’t know what will. This is like Station Eleven meets Oryx and Crake meets Blindness. Which I feel like are both high compliments. But the premise and world building is so so good and worth reading alone. There isn’t a lot I can tell you about the plot without spoiling it, but the entire world unfolds elegantly. There’s so much complexity and layers, but Shepherd leads us through effortlessly. I went into it thinking it was going to be more of a science fiction, but I’d say it leaves you with more fantasy. There are fantastic elements that sort of just build into a deafening crescendo.

At the same time, the book is about relationships and how the things you hold dearest to you change the world. There are different perspectives laid out throughout the book that begin to weave together until you’re practically holding your breath! You need to find out more, not only with each chapter, but with the entire story. There are so many twists and fascinating turns of events that surprise you with each page.

It’s about the moments after the forgetting, after the world devolved, but also about the moments before – what we used to take for granted and what we hold precious now. What does the end of the world do to us? Does it make us more human? How do we treat each other like humans when we forget our humanity? What happens when we forget it before we forget ourselves? If those questions sound thought provoking, and you love these comp titles, then you have to read The Book of M, because my review doesn’t do it justice. Check out The Book of M on Goodreads.

Discussion

What is the last fantastic debut story you read?

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