The Book of M: A Novel

The Book of M: A Novel

by Peng Shepherd


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Brad Thor's Summer 2018 Fiction Pick for THE TODAY SHOW!

"Eerie, dark, and compelling, [The Book of M] will not disappoint lovers of The Passage (2010) and Station Eleven (2014)." --Booklist


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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062669612
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/25/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 64,353
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

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.

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The Book of M: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous 7 days ago
What an awesome and interesting book. The plot about losing one shadow and memories is incredibly original. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and story. What a wonderful summer reading experience!
Aditi-ATWAMB More than 1 year ago
I’d heard a lot of varying opinions about this book, even before I had a copy in my hands. A lot of people found it too slow, a lot of others absolutely loved it and some even said it was too vague a book. The synopsis, however, sounded VERY interesting and, like I’ve mentioned before, I’m trying to diversify from my usual YA list and this sounded like the perfect book to get on with that goal. The Book of M is part dystopian fiction, part contemporary romance that answers the question: What makes you human, and what are you willing to give up be more? It took me a while to get used to the characters and the writing, but I really ended up enjoying this unique, brilliantly written book. MY THOUGHTS: 1. Peng Shepherd’s writing was STUNNING throughout the book, but especially as she wrote Max’s point of view. The more Max lost her memory, the better Shepherd’s writing got. It was heart-breaking as a reader and fascinating as a writer to watch how masterfully Shepherd broke down Max’s memories of the person she used to be. 2. I also liked the way she built up and described her characters. This book was completely non-linear, making the reader sit up, pay attention, and piece facts together from so many different parts. I loved the loyalties that were formed, the hope that something better awaited them and the cast of characters all around, shadowed and shadow-less. 3. Just like her writing of Max, I LOVED the descriptions and feats of magic in this book. It was such subtle, underrated magic that had no spells or wands, but a price to pay in exchange and it was just SO BEAUTIFUL TO READ? 4. At the same time, when the biggest plot twists came around, especially with Gajarajan, I was left feeling like it all wasn’t explained to me enough. I also struggled to get a physical sense of Ory, Max and the rest of the characters in terms of their age, and, most importantly, the when and how long aspect of how everything was happening. They weren’t HUGE hurdles, but they did leave me feeling a little lost in the grand scheme of things. Would I recommend this book? YES! Peng Shepherd’s debut novel is filled with stunning writing and a plot that keeps twisting as you go deeper. The Book of M was such a different book and I really enjoyed reading it.
lauralovesreviewingLT More than 1 year ago
It begins slowly. A man’s shadow disappears. Everyone is excited and caught up in the wonder. It seems magical. But then he starts to lose his memories. And then more people’s shadows disappear and more memories are lost. It spreads from continent to continent. No place is spared and everything falls apart because no one remembers how to do things, what anything is and even their own names. Sounds crazy doesn’t it. I couldn’t wait to see where this author was taking me. Told from several character’s perspectives, you’ll get caught up in their struggles to survive, their fears of looking for their shadow and finding it no longer there and their terror of the forgetting that comes after. I was in awe of the author’s imagination. I thought this would be a fairly straight forward plot, but it was actually finely executed. Events occurred in a fashion that wouldn’t allow me to stop reading. I was so wrapped up in some of these characters, I couldn’t relax until I knew what happened to them. And when the author showed me her magical direction, I was stunned. My imagination took off, thinking what if this happened, and how would they stop the catastrophes I could see coming. And the ones I couldn’t. Especially the ending. Did I enjoy this book? Loved it. Addictive. Would I recommend it? Yes sirree. You don’t have to be a dystopian or apocalypse fan to get caught up in this one. The idea is brilliant and expertly penned.
gisellsamaniego More than 1 year ago
This book was great! It is reminiscent of The Passage and The Road. Equal parts hopeful and despairing, this novel slowly reels you in and makes you care about its characters and their journey. The ending, though bittersweet, is masterful. There are only a few spots where the plot falters but these aren’t re easily forgivable in light of the finished product.
readers_retreat More than 1 year ago
I am really into apocalyptic novels of late and this is an innovative and extraordinary one. It is a truly outstanding debut for an author that I will be putting on my "ones to watch" list. Peng Shepherd, I salute you! After reading the synopsis, I got unbelievably excited about the prospect of diving into this, having that amount of pure anticipation is a rarity for me. I'm usually cool, calm, and collected. I knew then that it was going to either - live up to my uber-high expectations and blow me away, or disappoint me beyond belief. There are such a lot of writers who create a highly original concept, but fail miserably in their execution, meaning that the unique premise is wasted. Luckily, that was far from the case here. "The Book of M" is set in the not-too-distant future and tells the story of a mysterious natural disaster that causes people's shadows to disappear, shortly followed by their memories. This phenomenon gives the individual the use of a strange type of magic, but it comes at a high price - each time they use it they will be robbed of a memory. Many try to resist the urge to use this magic power, but for most the temptation is too great. As the victims forget more and more of who they are, reality begins to bend to reflect their fractured recollections, plunging the world into a terrifying, ever-shifting alternate landscape. This is a surreal and rather creepy read that I enjoyed immensely, although I did find that the pace in the middle section of the book was a little slower than I would've ideally liked. The language flowed beautifully and naturally and I appreciated the multiple points of view. The way Shepherd has structured the novel around these varying perspectives gives you a look at what each character is thinking/feeling at the time. There are some stunning twists involved in the plot too, which caught me off guard! For a debut author the worldbuilding is exquisite and I appreciated that the characters were drawn from diverse backgrounds and were developed well. All in all, this is a superb dystopian thrill ride following the characters as they fight for survival, a haunting and thought-provoking read! Many thanks to HarperCollins for an ARC. I was not required to post a review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Karen_Benson More than 1 year ago
This book deserves ALL the stars!! ALL!! It’s brilliant, beautifully written, and one of the most hopeful post-apocalyptic books I’ve ever read. The Book of M is my favorite read of 2018. Whenever I think of my favorite all time epic books in this genre (The Stand, The Passage, and Swan Song) The Book of M will now and forever more be in my list. I’m not sure how to even tell anyone what this book is about. It’s a story about how most people lose their shadow and with it, all of their memories, until they don’t even remember that they need to eat. Also with the loss of their shadow comes the ability to do magical things, like putting wings onto the head of a deer. But for each magical act, more memories are lost until there is nothing left of the original person. We follow the journey of Max who after two years has finally lost her shadow and run away, Ory her husband who travels the countryside looking for her, Naz who was an Olympic archer in the time before, and the Amnesiac who lost all of his memories due to an accident before The Forgetting. I seriously had major chills all up and down my spine as I read the last few pages of The Book of M. I am sure I’ll not be able to get this book out of my head for a while and have already caught myself looking for my shadow several times already! Peng Shepherd is a new author that I will be watching out for. If her first novel is this amazing, I can’t imagine how incredible her next ones will be!!
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
The Book of M by Peng Shepherd is a very highly recommended, unique dystopian novel. This is a noteworthy debut. An epidemic called the Forgetting first starts in India when Hemu Joshi lost his shadow. Soon it spreads and a large part of the population succumbs to the phenomenon. What happens is that people lose their shadows and their memories follow. Once shadowless people forget, they are susceptible to misremembering the world and magically can create new things. They can also forget someone exists and then... they don't. "Why had it turned out to be that shadows were the parts of bodies where memories were stored? Why did it happen to some and not others? Once it finally did happen, why did some people forget things after two weeks and some hang on much longer? And when they finally did forget, why did the earth itself seem to forget, too? The image of the strange creature in the woods outside came to him again. Why when a shadowless forgot that deer didn’t have wings on their heads, did it become true?" The Book of M follows a number of characters, starting with Ory and his wife Max. They escaped the Forgetting by hiding in a hotel in the woods outside Arlington, Virginia, and putting into place a set of protective rules. Now Max has lost her shadow. Ory has given her a tape recorder for her to record her memories and tell her story as a way for her to remember who she is and who Ory is. Then Ory leaves to scavenge for food in the city and Max leaves to keep Ory safe. Ory returns and begins his search for her. The narrative follows Max, Ory and several other characters. Everyone heads to the south where they have all heard rumors about someone called, among other names, "The One Who Gathers" in New Orleans who may have a cure for the Forgetting. The Book of M is an exceptional captivating and compelling novel that held my undivided attention from start to finish. The writing is incredible; it is hard to believe this is a debut novel. The concept that our shadows hold our memories paired with the importance of our memories on who we are, what we do, and how we relate to others and the world, becomes insightful and mind-bending in the narrative. Adding to the complex, absorbing plot are the dynamic characters Shepherd has created and placed in this changed world. The ending was surprising, nothing I would have predicted, yet it works in this intricate, ingenious novel. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hundreds of pages of mundane and seemingly endless dialogue as the story (?) goes on and on and on.