Review: The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

August 13, 2018
The Book of M, Peng Shephard, InToriLex. Book Review
Published By: Harper Audio on June 5, 2018
Format Read: Audio Book Edition (17 hours 6mins)
Genre: Adult/ Dystopia/ Sci-fi
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Hoopla via Library
The Book of M
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.


Content Warning: Graphic Violence


The Book of M was weird, memorable and engaging. The story will break your heart and shock you in ways your not expecting. In this world people begin to lose their shadows and then gradually lose all of their memories after. Ory and Max set out to find answers and ways to survive a constantly changing landscape. The authors does a great job of balancing multiple point of views while keeping the voices distinct and the plot moving. Ory and Max are characters you will happily cheer for along with the other characters they encounter while the world slips into chaos. Shadows randomly disappearing is bad enough but the shadow less are able to change their environments and threaten those who still have shadows. 
“No one escaped—either because they were someone who lost their shadow, or because they were someone who loved someone who lost their shadow.”
The book has a very strong start but towards the later half of the book the world building became too robust. I wanted to learn more about the characters we knew but some of that took a backseat to describing the threats and ways that people have adapted in this new world. The world building itself was great but their could have been less of it. The concept was weird but never in a way that required you to hold back disbelief. The audio book narrators were male and female, they did a great job conveying the feelings and emotion of characters through the dialogue. Ory and Max embark on a journey for answers, the hardships and bad times kept me in suspense about what their fate will be.
InToriLex, The Book of M
There is a lot of technical and anecdotal information about how memory works. But this served the story well as everyone was trying to figure out why people lost their shadows and how to stop it. Despite clunky pacing at times I still wanted to follow these characters and keep listening. There are a number of diverse characters in terms of race and sexual orientation because the story spans continents and states. I was impressed with the representation. The ending surprised me but was in line with how the book balanced realism with the fantasy of this imagined world. Readers will find  emotional depth and a story to remember.

Recommended for Readers who
- enjoy adult science fiction where every characters in jeopardy
- aren't thrown by multiple points of view
- can stomach graphic violence and traumatic physical and emotional pain


The Book of M, Peng Shephard
Peng was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she rode horses and trained in classical ballet. She earned her M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University, and has lived in Beijing, London, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York. "The Book of M" is her first novel.

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