Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Page Count: 496 (Kindle)
From the Jacket:
WHAT WOULD YOU GIVE UP TO REMEMBER?
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.
It has been a very long time since I’ve read a book that made me feel the way this one did. I finished it almost a week ago and have just been sitting with it, trying to put my thoughts into some semblance of an order so I could write a cohesive review instead of a rambling stream of consciousness feelings dump. I’m not sure I’ll be successful. I’ve seen this book likened with Station Eleven (another incredible book that you should read), and I have to agree that parts of it do feel reminiscent of that, however, this book is so incredibly unique that even that comparison feels like a stretch.
The Book of M follows several different people as they navigate through societal collapse after a mystery condition known as, The Forgetting, plagues people in one county after another until the entire world has been effected. We see what happens when the news breaks, the immediate aftermath, and the different choices made that ultimately bring the characters together. It’s an incredible genre bending blend of post-apocalyptic, literary, and magical realism. Shepherd weaves effortlessly between several points of view, each just as compelling as the one before it.
This book made me ask myself so many questions. What would you do to protect the ones you love if the very act of forgetting them could make them cease to exist? Where would you go if forgetting something as simple as the way a kite works could cause catastrophic consequences? And maybe even most compelling, what would you be willing to forget in exchange for the ability to do incredible magic, transforming the world around you forever?
I do not want to go into too much detail because this book has so many delightful surprises packed in. It is astounding to me that this is the author’s debut work, because it’s written like a master class in character development and world building. The Book of M terrified me, it made me laugh, it made me cry, and it filled me full of wonder that anyone’s imagination could contain such magnitudes. Along the way I lost count of how many times I exclaimed out loud about something I was reading.
I began recommending this to everyone I knew about halfway through and haven’t let up since. If you read only a single book this year, make it this one. I promise that it will blow your mind and you’ll never forget it. If you do decide to read it, or if you have read it, please come tell me about it in the comments!
A big thank you to William Morrow and Edelweiss for the advance reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.