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The Book of M

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  4,119 Ratings  ·  919 Reviews
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 di
Kindle Edition, 492 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by William Morrow
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Elizabeth I would have been really annoyed if it had been the other way around.
<spoiler>Edit: if you haven't read the book yet, please don't read on (no…more
I would have been really annoyed if it had been the other way around.
<spoiler>Edit: if you haven't read the book yet, please don't read on (no idea why the spoiler tag isn't working)
If Max had survived, it would have seemed a little too pat. Having the body of Ursula survive with Max's shadow adds a whole new dimension to the perception of how much of a person is the physical being and how much is the soul.

It made perfect sense to me that Ursula would have Max's tape recorder. She had already been curious about it when Max was alive. And then, when Max died, it would seem logical for Ursula to take that from her as she continued on her journey. It would be like holding on to looking at the mural on the side of the not-bus. Then, naturally, she would forget why or how she had the tape recorder in the first place.

The person who really surprised me was Ory. In spite of seeing that Ursula was not Max, as soon as he talked to her, he would know she was really Max - especially if he had said "Blue" and received the correct answer. As far as it appeared, there was no aspect of Ursula left.

But what I found to be more upsetting than the Ory/Max/Naz was the notion that I think we were supposed to be happy that they were taking a team out of New Orleans to head north to "save the shadowless" by promising them that they could replace their shadows. Sure, their bodies would be alive, but the essences of the people they were would be gone forever. Just as the amnesiac's essence was partially gone with his car accident and then completely swallowed during the hurricane when he became entirely blind. How would the books' shadows be saving the shadowless?

Cardmaker The amnesiac never lost his shadow. They brought him to meet the first man to lose his shadow because they both had lost memories. Then, later, when…moreThe amnesiac never lost his shadow. They brought him to meet the first man to lose his shadow because they both had lost memories. Then, later, when he was injured in the hurricane, somehow his shadow became the elephant. But he always had a shadow.(less)

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Will Byrnes
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me… --- Psalm 23
But what if you were walking through the valley of the death of shadows? Who or what might be with you then? If, as Macbeth proclaims, life’s but a walking shadow, what becomes of the poor player when even the shadow has walked?

Peng Shepherd - from her site - Photo by Rachel Crittenden

There have been two major periods in my life when I kept a journal. The first was when I was fi
Adam Dalva
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shepherd has crafted a gripping, multi-faceted debut here, a dystopic future novel that goes well past the expectations of the genre. I admired the textual experimentation of this measured book, as various symbols, fonts, and perspectives try to get across the lives of the characters, who mix emotional heft with sudden, rapid action. The leads, Ory and Max, are wonderfully drawn and make for an excellent emotional core.

In this world, if someone's shadow disappears, they will soon be consigned to
Elyse Walters
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Library- ebook - overdrive

I seldom read dystopian novels, but in the past few years - having read a few other wonders: “Station Eleven”,
“California”, etc.,
I had a hunch this book might be ‘one-of-the-special-one’s’.....”It was”!!!!

For starters, the first chapter was one of the best first chapters of ‘any’ book I’ve read in a long time!
The first sentence immediately grabbed my attention....holding it tightly until the last line. I felt punched in the gut with the last sentence in chapter 1 ..
Happy UK Publication Day to this brilliant dystopian!

This book was a revelation. From the start I did not know what was happening, how the story would develop or where it would end... BUT I WAS 100% HOOKED!!!! From page one I was thoroughly ensnared and did not want to put this down for a second. The premise for the book I think is genius; one day in the near future a man's shadow suddenly disappears in the middle of a market in India. It's initially treated as a holy event but after a few
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
New York City lies in ruins, Chattanooga is burning, Washington DC is a war zone.  Power grids are down.  People are losing their shadows, and with them, their memories.  New Orleans beckons.  A one-eyed amnesiac, the power of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, lakes that come and go as they please.  There is magic out there, as evidenced by singing trees, conversant tattoos and wolves.  As your shadow tethers you to earth, the value of memories has never been higher.
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Just like Peter Pan, the people in Peng Shepherd’s novel, The Book of M, are having trouble with their shadows. For reasons that never become known, shadows are disappearing, sometimes from an individual, sometimes whole cities at once. Told by four linked characters, with a multitude of diverse experiences threaded through their stories, this book follows their course through a world fundamentally changed by destructive magic.

If you’d asked me any time during the first half of this book what t
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
I love books that are not easily classifiable – and this is just that. It is speculative fiction but also incorporates a feeling of magical realism, it is a romance (and it is really not), it is just absolutely lovely. I adore the premise above all else: at some point in the not so distant future people start losing their shadows and with them, slowly but inexorably, their memories. First the small things but then bigger and bigger things until they forget to breath. With the loss of memories co ...more
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
j e w e l s [Books Bejeweled]

Audio production: Outstanding!
Story: hmmmm. Loved the first half, major Bird Box vibes mixed with a good dose of Station Eleven.

Around the 50% mark, I realized I wasn't even connected to the characters and I was forcing myself to keep reading/listening. I think dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories actually only work for me if they avoid the way-out fantasy realm. This book strays into mystical realism/supernatural stuff and that's not a good fit for me. I have a hard time with sci-fi/f
Karen’s Library
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 by far my favorite read so far 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, little by
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
It's the day of the festival of Lost Shadows and a young man loses his shadow in an Indian market. And then others do as well as this phenomena travels the world. And then the horrendous happens, for in losing one's shadow, one loses their memory. It is frightening and eerie signifying the death of a world we all live in. How does one survive without a memory, without knowing who or what you are, without being able to read, without knowing a loved one, a friend, a foe, or even yourself? Combini ...more
The first half of this book was a solid 5 stars for me. The plot was so gripping I couldn't put the book down. But took a turn. The latter half of the story just didn't do it for me. It was all over the place and confusing. The phenomenon of shadows disappearing was never fully explained and the whole part with "The One Who Gathers" was a jumbled mess of loose ideas.

The culmination of everything really fell flat for me which is so disheartening because the first half of the book is s

okay its been a few hours and I think I'm ready to write a real review.

So, this book was seriously incredible. I was so SHOOK after finishing it i literally got on the wrong bus NICE and I'm legit like BLOWN AWAY by the ending even a few hours later so. it was fucking awesome.

The book on the surface, I would describe as "Bird box" meets "Station Eleven" meets "The Oracle Year" - if BB and SE were actually good lol. This book was what I wanted when I was reading those books and TOY just h
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2018
“The Book of M” is a dystopian apocalyptic novel that is, at its essence, a love story about Ory (a man) and Max (a woman).

Peng Shepherd has based her debut novel on a real life event called “Zero Shadow Day,” which occurs annually in India. On this one or two days, at noon, the sun is directly overhead and, unless you jump, you cannot see your shadow. In Sheperd’s story, starting in India and then spreading over the globe, people begin losing their shadows permanently. When a person loses their
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Where did the shadows go? Ory wondered. He didn't even care about the why any more. Only the where. The why was inexplicable. Ory didn't believe in magic, but he knew in his heart that what had happened was nothing that could be understood by humans. It was no natural disaster, no disease, no biological weapon. The best name he'd ever heard for it was curse. Because in the end it didn't matter who you were. No one escaped – either because they were someone who lost their shadow, or because they
Best debut I've read in a long, loooong time!


153 pages in - “Did you know that the word that means a group of elephants together is memory?” he asked. “A memory of elephants.”
I am so loving this book!

85 pages in and - for someone who researches identity and memory - this is pretty darn fascinating. I’m a bit creeped out, if I’m being honest. I hope that the explanation for losing one’s shadow and consequently all knowledge and memories will be fabulous. It has to be!
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this.

The Book of M is set in a world similar to our own, until suddenly certain people's shadows start disappearing. With the disappearance of a person's shadow comes the slow deterioration of their memory. And with this memory loss comes magic.

If someone forgets that cars require gas to run, their car suddenly no longer requires gas to run. If someone forgets that deer have antlers, not butterfly wings attached to their heads--boom, butterfly wings. If someone forgets that gun
Tori (InToriLex)
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi

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 yo
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
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
*4-4.5 stars. A very imaginative fantasy set in the near-future world where human shadows begin to disappear. At first, it's rather a lark but then memories begin to disappear as well. Incredibly quickly, society begins to fall apart. There's a vague hint of something more happening here....MAGIC??

Have you ever considered your shadow? Peng Shepherd's story will encourage you to think more deeply about what a shadow represents. What would you try to save if the world as you knew it were coming to
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For me it was The Book of Meh.

On paper (pun intended) this should have been the perfect book for me. When I read the description I thought, "Have I just stumbled upon another post-apocalyptic favorite? Could this be a book to squeeze onto the shelf with The Road, Oryx and Crake, The Stand, Birdbox, and World War Z?" Sadly the answer is a resounding no. For several reasons.

1) When the writing was good, it was pretty good. Often however it was choppy and awkward. I don't recall another book that
Resh (The Book Satchel)
This book was AMAZING. Set in a post apocalyptic world, a strange phenomenon is taking over the world. People lose their shadows and in due time their memories one by one until they die (might forget how to open door/eat food/breathe).

Inspiration: inspired by Zero Shadow Day, an astronomical phenomenon restricted to a few geographical locations in India. Twice a year shadows disappear for a few moments due to an alignment of sun and earth.

What to expect?
- characters of a wide variety of ethnicit
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think this is my second 5 star book of 2018, so that should tell you something. When I get done editing my current manuscript I'm going to have SO many reviews to catch up on, and this is one of those books I will definitely write a review for.

I will say, the ending is not what I had hoped for. But it did fit with the book as a whole. I'm always looking for authors who can craft a good story from beginning to end, and it's actually a pretty hard thing to find. That was not an issue here. The w
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
An interesting apocalyptic story that uses Indian mythology and lots of magical realism. As people lose their shadows, they also begin to lose their memories. At 17 hours, though, this audiobook was a bit long, and the story probably could have been pared down without losing the central theme. 3.5 ⭐ ...more
The Nerd Daily
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Tasha Leigh

In a marketplace in India, the world watches as the people celebrate that moment every year where their shadows disappear just for a second, before going back to their festivities. But there is one man, Hemu Joshi, whose shadow doesn’t return. It has left him permanently and soon so will his memories.

Orlando loves his wife Max. They saw the news about Joshi and thought it was contained to India. Then, while attending a friend’s weddin
Jen | Jen Talks Audiobooks
It's been a long time since a book hit me this hard. I don't yet have any words.

James Fouhey and Emily Woo Zeller were amazing on the audio.
Cori Reed
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So happy I picked this up on a whim. A truly unique take on the plague story.
Aug 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I'm not sure how or when I added this to my "to read" queue. But I saw the audiobook on Hoopla one day, recognized it as in my "to read" queue, and downloaded all 17 hours.

It was entertaining! From start to finish. Good post-apocalpytic world-building, interesting characters, powerful and eery imagery, some admirable twists, especially toward the end. A few have compared it to Station Eleven, though. Which was a stretch. The writing, by first-time novelist Peng Shepherd, was tight and fast-pace
Chihoe Ho
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Book of M uses a simple premise: sometime in the future, the population is afflicted by "The Forgetting" - a phenomenon where people lose their shadows, and with that their memories. It seems like a far-fetched idea, but as the story unravels, it becomes (almost) believable that this could be a reality. What are the memories you hold dear? Who are we without our memories?

Peng Shepherd's writing is beautiful and conjures up images of what this world is like for the very relatable and diverse
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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, Kuala Lumpur, London, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York. "The Book of M" is her first novel.

For news, giveaways, contests, and other fun stuff, sign up for her newsletter at http://p
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“there’s a difference between when the mind forgets and the heart does.” 4 likes
“The memory means more, the more it’s worth to you—and to who you are.” 1 likes
More quotes…