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The Book of M

4.4  ·  Rating details ·  163 Ratings  ·  86 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
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by William Morrow
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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
May 19, 2018 rated it liked it
The Book of M is certainly an ambitious debut. Covering multiple characters, countries, and time in painstaking detail, it explores a new dystopian world where the loss of memories results in dangerous magic. Full Review to come.
Samantha Allen
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to be given an advanced copy of The Book of M in exchange for an honest review. So to sum it up, go buy this book as soon as it comes out, because you won’t find a more engaging and refreshingly original dystopian story anywhere out there. And believe me, I’ve looked.

The Book of M is a delight—beautifully written, deeply felt, and stunningly original, particularly for the genre. The Book of M’s world ends not through zombies or a pandemic but due to the simple human act of fo
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Before my review, I'd like to state that I received an early copy from Edelweiss in return for an honest review.
That being said, The Book of M is a brilliant story about a world where for some unknown reason people's shadows start to disappear. It's discovered that shortly after someone loses their shadow, they start losing memories. Memories like how letters make words, or how a doorknob opens a door, or that eating food keeps you alive. The world spins into chaos and we follow a cast of honest
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of post-apocalyptic fiction or more literary leaning science fiction
The Book of M made me hope in the face of hopelessness, believe the unbelievable and in a most rare occurrence, make me grieve for all the main characters and pretty much all the secondaries. It was, all around, time well spent.

In a world where people are losing their shadows, then their memories, and eventually their physical selves, everything else is a bit off kilter as well. Roads inexplicably turn into spirals, cash becomes blank paper and the Statue of Liberty is shown in a scene so awesom
Christina (Ensconced in Lit)
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: publisher-sent
The Book of M was a surprising read for me, I had no idea what to expect. It's an adult dystopian that reminds me of The Passage. In this book, there is some process by which people start to lose their memories of everything after they lose their shadows and this leads to death and destruction and the falling apart of society globe wide. At the center of this is a love story between two ordinary people-- Max and Ory. Max has left Ory because she has lost her shadow and she doesn't want to destro ...more
William Bentrim
May 19, 2018 rated it liked it
The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

This is one of the stranger books I have read and I have read some strange ones. People start to lose their shadows and the shadows are what keeps memories. The story is about people becoming shadowless and the journey to save their memories.

The shadow free folks begin to exhibit traits that threaten those with shadows and are consequently persecuted. This leads to some extremely bizarre reactions by those without shadows.

I finished the book but it was a bit of a
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received an advanced reader copy of this book in the Malice Domestic conference swag bag. Dystopian is my favorite genre and I opened the book hoping to enjoy it.

I finished it in 24 hours.


The author writes multiple POVs with ease and conviction and manipulates the multiple layers with ease and skill. My litmus test for any book is whether or not I root for the MC. I was gripping the pages near the end with how badly I wanted both MCs to succeed. I won't spoil anything and other
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Rahul Kanakia
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Peng is a friend of a friend, and I read an early version of this book back before it sold. I read lots of manuscripts from unpublished writers, and most of them have major problems, both in the writing and the structure. But with this book, I remember thinking, there is really something here. It's just like when you hear the opening chords of a song on the radio, and you don't even know what it is yet, but you already know it's something new and special. In the same way, from the first pages of ...more
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ordinary people facing a catastrophe - The Forgetting, an epidemic-like phenomena where losing their shadows means losing their memories. Clever, full of plot twists, action and suspense, the novel ultimately is about love and loyalty. Could not put it down. I would compare it to two other novel I very much enjoyed: 'Station 11' and 'The Passage'
Kaycee Bowick (Off_The_Press)
Feb 01, 2018 is currently reading it
Shelves: edelweiss
Thank you to the author, publisher, and edelweiss for providing me with a DRC of this title in exchange for an honest review!

Off The Press Reads: BlogInstagramBloglovin'
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.


If I was to summarize this book in one word it would be creative. The ideas that were developed throughout the story and that came together into a cohesive plot really kept me intrigued throughout the entirety of the book. It was very well written, and the character development was believable. Without giving away anything, I would also say this book is weird. Usually that is a negative thing, but I mean it in a most positive way.
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have been dying to read this book ever since learning about Peng's travels and research, and I am so pleased to have been able to read a Kindle advanced copy and share my thoughts.

At the heart of The Book of M are a husband and wife: Ory (Orlando) and Max. They've holed up in a Virginian mountain retreat to escape a worldwide epidemic. For the past two years, they've been surviving on Ory's hunting and their own thriftiness. No one understands what has caused the epidemic, or how its symptoms
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book. THIS BOOK.

I was very lucky to get an early copy of this book because Peng is a good friend of mine but I can say without compromising one iota of my credibility that this book is one of the best things I have ever read and frankly, ever expect to read again.

To understand any review of this book, I think, you need to know the premise: that in this subtle and deftly woven world, people have started to lose their shadows — and when their shadows slip away, so do their memories. Not all a
Elyse Klein
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an early copy in exchange for my honest review:

The Book of M is one of the best books I’ve ready in a long time — it’s a haunting, sad and beautiful story about a four people searching for humanity in an apocalyptic world. The book is set in modern times, but during an epidemic where most of the world has lost their memories by losing their shadows. It follows the story of 4 people — Max, Ory, Naz and the One Who Gathers as they search for love, connection and hope for a cure. It did
Linnea Hartsuyker
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had the privilege of reading this book early, because a friend of mine wrote it, and it is marvelous. As a strange phenomenon strips people of their shadows and their memories while giving them magical powers. When Max loses her shadow, she leaves her husband Ory to save him from dangers she may bring. He embarks on a quest to find her in a world that is falling apart, as she flees toward a rumored cure. This book is a beautiful fable about love and memory with one of the most perfect endings ...more
Tawnie Mizer
The Book of M is a beautiful dystopian novel about the power and beauty of memories and the pain that comes from losing them.

One day in a market in India, a man loses his shadow for no apparent reason anyone can explain. Shortly after, the man begins forgetting everything he ever knew, but in its place receives a strange and new power. This phenomenon of the lost shadow, soon becoming known as The Forgetting, spreads throughout the world and transform it into a strange dystopian world that is ha
Astrotomato Maughan
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Book of M is the wonderful debut novel by Peng Shepherd. It successfully blends magical realism and fantasy to bring us a fresh take on the post-apocalypse genre.

The book centres on the journeys of wife and husband Max and Ory, who are affected in very different ways by the book’s events.

The apocalypse starts simply: a man in India loses his shadow. Slowly, the entire world is dragged into the mystery. As the phenomenon spreads, the horror of losing a shadow starts to become apparent and the
Jun 03, 2018 added it
As I was reading “The Book of M,” a few books would come to mind: Ursula Le Guin’s “The Lathe of Heaven,” Gene Wolfe’s “Soldier of the Mist,” and Stephen King’s “Cell” and “The Stand” (the first two happen to be novels that made particularly big impacts on me). “The Stand” kept coming to mind in the way it morphed from post-apocolyptic novel into Quest, and “Cell” for its tweaking of the zombie genre.

Peng’s book did a lot more than tweak the idea of a zombie outbreak. She establishes very early
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had been waiting to read this book ever since its conception and am honored to have received an advance copy for an honest review.

The story starts off in a remote area where a couple has been hiding out. We soon realize that a pandemic has occurred in which those afflicted lose their shadow and their memory: not only of who they are but even their use and understanding of language and their need to attend to bodily functions necessary for survival. Upon finding out she too has lost her shadow
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Book of M was the first book I allowed myself to read after completing my Master's degree. It was a treat that was well worth the wait. The concept and importance of memory and everything associated is a key part of the book's plot line and at the forefront of many of the characters concerns. Written with multiple points of view, time frames, and geographical locations of the characters, the plot kept me engaged and wanting more. I paced myself (my patience a positive sign of growth from bec ...more
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant debut from an author to watch.

I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Initially, I read THE BOOK OF M before bed. Big mistake. This book kept me up at night, both because I simply couldn’t put it down, and because, once I managed to set it aside and close my eyes, I stayed awake thinking about it.

Shepard’s characters are so vividly human that their trials, hopes, fears, and successes feel visceral. The love story between the book's central characte
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Book of M is a devastating, beautiful novel. All at once, this is an adventure story, a love story, a fantasy, a dystopia, and a meditation on memory—what it means, and how it defines us as human beings.

We begin in a secluded hideaway in the woods: for two years, our primary narrators, Ory and Max, have been living in an abandoned Virginia resort lodge, hiding from the volatile world. Outside their refuge, human shadows are disappearing. When a shadow vanishes, its body starts to forget: sm
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

Usually I speed-read through books but this one I read slowly because there were many scenes that I wanted to reflect upon, before moving forward through the story. This book is a must-read!

Ory and Max, a happily married couple, survive the initial epidemic of losing their shadows and the ensuing memory loss until the day Max’s shadow disappears. Max leaves to protect Ory, and he embarks on a quest to find Max.
The bewildering loss of o
Vicky Gottlieb
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Book of M, Peng Shepherd’s beautiful and soulful, deep and deeply feeling
debut novel, is a poignantly rendered allegory in the guise of brilliantly crafted science fiction, guaranteed to resonate with both adolescent and adult readers! This book both exemplifies and defies genre by transporting us to a dystopian world vividly, freshly conceived yet eerily similar to our own. The story itself offers page-turning entertainment and a double expresso jolt to the imagination. Though descriptions
Jay Chi
May 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Book of M is for fans of post-apocalyptic novels, highly recommended to fans of Station Eleven. The novel is set in a world where people are losing their shadows, which contain their memories (similar to The Marrow Thieves). There's a few jumping storylines/perspectives that eventually coalesce and the novel is definitely character-driven with a decent cast of characters that you follow along their post-apocalyptic journey. I really wanted to love this novel like many other initial readers/r ...more
Chaya Nebel
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This terrifically-well-written dystopian novel is engrossing and thrilling, as well as thought-provoking and -- for lack of a better word -- deep. Very few science fiction novels can do that. This is one that will keep you up nights reading it, and keep you up nights afterwards thinking about the issues it raises. Those issues center around memory, connections to others, survival and no less than what it means to be human.

It is beautifully, hauntingly written, and the reader is constantly thrus
Cheryl Force
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced copy of the Book of M from the publisher for an honest review. From the beginning, this book captivated my interest and put me into the time and place of a story that is so engaging, it was hard to put down once I started reading. It made me think about topics to explore more later, It made me appreciate things I sometimes take for granted. It reminded me to savor my memories. Throughout the story, I wondered what I would have done in the same is that real a ...more
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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, London, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York. "The Book of M" is her first novel.

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