In Peng Shepherd's The Book of M people all over the world have suddenly lost their shadows, and with that loss begins the gradual disappearance of their memories. Like Station Eleven and The Dog Stars, The Book of M is less about what happened than it is about the people it happened to, and I got very attached to the three primary narrators. At times, the sci-fi aspects are jarring, but this is a poignant and elegant work of magical realism that never drags despite its heft. Recommended By Emily F., Powells.com
Beautiful magical realism. Accept the society-changing story premise of a forgetting sickness and then let all the emotions flow. This dystopian story starts out quiet and small, then snowballs to a Big Bang ending with a heartbreaker denouement. I’ll think about The Book of M and it's people for a long time. Recommended By Tracey T., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"Eerie, dark, and compelling, [The Book of M] will not disappoint lovers of The Passage and Station Eleven." Booklist
WHAT WOULD YOU GIVE UP TO REMEMBER?
Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself.
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.
Like The Passage and Station Eleven, this haunting, thought-provoking, and beautiful novel explores fundamental questions of memory, connection, and what it means to be human in a world turned upside down.
“I was both disturbed and inspired by Max’s and Ory’s journey through apocalypses large and small. Peng Shepherd has written a prescient, dark fable for the now and for the soon-to-be. The Book of M is our beautiful nightmare shadow.” Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World
“A beautiful and haunting story about the power of memory and the necessity of human connection, this book is a post-apocalyptic masterpiece and the one dystopian novel you really need to read this year.” Bustle
“It is an incredible concept, and she is a brilliant, brilliant new fiction writer. This is someone who you’re eventually going to have on this couch — she’s that good.” Brad Thor, The Today Show
“This is an apocalyptic thriller with heart....The Book of M is devastating and inventive as Shepherd examines the value of memory, packing in imaginative twists as she goes.” USA Today
About the Author
Peng Shepherd was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she rode horses and trained in classical ballet. She earned her MFA in creative writing from New York University, and has lived in Beijing, London, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City. The Book of M is her first novel.