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The Book of M

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  12,491 ratings  ·  2,331 reviews

A vivid, touching and original debut, following the effects of an extraordinary catastrophe on very ordinary people.

In the middle of a market in India, a man’s shadow disappears. As rolling twenty-four-hour news coverage tries to explain the event, more cases are discovered. The phenomenon spreads like a plague as people learn the true cost of their lost part: their memori

Kindle Edition, 496 pages
Published June 28th 2018 by HarperVoyager (first published June 5th 2018)
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Sarah Really? I LOVED this twist. It is a fabulous plot twist. I commend the author for this whole part. I was like - Thank God! It would have been so corny…moreReally? I LOVED this twist. It is a fabulous plot twist. I commend the author for this whole part. I was like - Thank God! It would have been so corny if it was Max.

I would imagine Max has lost all understanding of who she is and so has Ursula. She would have maybe taken it from Max when she died having some form of memory that it was important but not fully understanding why. I think this was a perfect ending.

Also how would Naz and Max co-existed in such a small civilization if Max was to survive?
Shara Vitone If you were shadowless and had to choose ANY book to replace your "essence of memories" which book would it be and why?
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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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 ..
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
goodness me. its safe to say that now i will never be able to hear the phrase ‘blue, fifty-two’ without getting all kinds of emotional. if you know, you know. sigh.

this story gave me massive ‘station eleven’ vibes. it poses similar questions about the meaning of humanity in the face of the unknown, if hope can be the key for survival, and most importantly, how far one will go for those they love. i absolutely adored reading about ory and max - their relationship, separation, continued connection
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
fulfilling my 2020 goal to read (at least) one book each month that was given to me as a present that i haven't yet gotten around to reading because i am an ungrateful dick.

i’m an even bigger and more ungrateful dick than usual, neglecting this gifted book for as long as i did. A) it was phenomenal, so i was doing myself a disservice, but more importantly, B) this was a gift from my GR secret santa back in 2018(!), and when i finally picked it up, i found this stuck between its pages and it brok
Emer (A Little Haze)
Bumping this book up to a five star read because I can't stop thinking about the fantastic story in the months since I've read it. And I've also treated myself to a hardback copy of it too...IT LOOKS GORGEOUS!!! Definitely among my fav reads of 2018.


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 thorough
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.
j e w e l s

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
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)

Many thanks to Andrew at William Morrow for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review
"Blue. Fifty-two."

I know that I previously said that both a review and a rating was to come. Well, the review is here but not the rating. This book is one of the first books that I will be opting out of rating. I literally spent an entire day trying to decide what to rate this but I came up blank. It just doesn't fit any of the star ratings. Not one of two because I didn't hate/dislike it.
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
Love You Shadow GIF - LoveYou Shadow Disappear GIFs
"A thing does not have to be said to be real. It just has to be remembered."

Who would you be without your memories? Would you still be you? How much do your memories define who you are?

A Goodreads friend recently dubbed a new genre of books -- "quiet books". These, they said, are "slow action adventures, based more in the mind of its protagonists than in the adventure and action they are slowly experiencing or, often, remembering". That is the perfect description for this book. It's post-apo
Renee Godding
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5/5 stars

”If only we were elephants. Then we could help each other…”

Fantasy/Sci Fi- apocalyptic novels have always done their best to terrify us with wild concepts of rising dead, killer robots and monstrous mutants walking the earth. Yet it’s often the simplest and most realistic of concepts that manage to get under my skin the most.
Have you ever realized how wonderfully valuable our ability to remember is? Or how fragile and fallible it could be? What would happen if the entire population, an
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
Emily B
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounded up. I greatly admire the imagination of the writer. The whole concept of the book is wildly creative and full of fascinating little details.
I enjoyed the style of writing, I love it when each chapter or part are told from a different character’s perspective.

While I loved the idea and story I just found it a bit too long. I felt it could have been spread over more than one book as so much happened in it.

I also felt that while the concept of losing shadows and memories was great, it
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

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
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!
may ❀
okay that ending??? fricken solid
the rest of the book??? kinda unnecessarily long/dense but also really well written

my main issue is that pretty much all of my questions remained unanswered and i just reaalllyyy want my answers :c

rtc i guess
lark benobi
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
The Book of M reads like a very long game of exquisite corpse where more and more stuff happens in a never-ending logorrheal discharge of events; and that may sound like I didn't like it, but this game of exquisite corpse actually made for an entertaining book, the kind of 'entertaining' where from one sentence to the next you will say "whaaa?" and finding yourself agog with the notion that someone exists in the world, a writer named Peng Shepherd, whose connection with logic is loose enough to ...more
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 char
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
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
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
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Triggers 3 36 Dec 15, 2018 04:42AM  

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Peng was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she rode horses and trained in classical ballet, and has lived in Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, London, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York. Her first novel, THE BOOK OF M, won the 2019 Neukom Institute for Literary Arts Award for Debut Speculative Fiction, and was chosen as a best book of the year by Amazon, Elle, Refinery29, and The Verge, as ...more

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“there’s a difference between when the mind forgets and the heart does.” 11 likes
“Then I saw it tilt its head ever so slightly to the side, all by itself. There was a moment of coldness, like the entire room had dropped twenty degrees. I tried to take a breath, but I couldn’t move. Then it was gone.” 3 likes
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