The Book Of M – Peng Shepherd

Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 11.06.03 AMPublisher: 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.

Rating: Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.20.19 AM

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?

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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. 

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The Wolf Road – Beth Lewis

61GODxCcISL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Publisher: Crown

Publication Date: July 5th, 2016

Page Count: 368 (Hardcover)

From the Jacket:

Elka barely remembers a time before she knew Trapper.

She was just seven years old, wandering lost and hungry in the wilderness, when the solitary hunter took her in. In the years since then, he’s taught her how to survive in this desolate land where civilization has been destroyed and men are at the mercy of the elements and each other.

But the man Elka thought she knew has been harboring a terrible secret. He’s a killer. A monster. And now that Elka knows the truth, she may be his next victim.

Armed with nothing but her knife and the hard lessons Trapper’s drilled into her, Elka flees into the frozen north in search of her real parents. But judging by the trail of blood dogging her footsteps, she hasn’t left Trapper behind—and he won’t be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she’s going to survive, Elka will have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about the dark road she’s been set on.

The Wolf Road is an intimate cat-and-mouse tale of revenge and redemption, played out against a vast, unforgiving landscape—told by an indomitable young heroine fighting to escape her past and rejoin humanity.

The Wolf Road drew me in from the first page and had me on the edge of my seat, white knuckled and breathless until I reached the end. Beth Lewis has fully captured my attention with this stunning debut that is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Using stark, simple prose, the story is brilliantly narrated by Elka, a young girl, orphaned and raised in the wild. Set in a series of small gold rush towns where vigilante justice is law, the Wolf Road tells the story of a post apocalyptic world set back to zero after a cold war mistake.

I’ve had this book on my shelves for MONTHS and at this point I cannot remember why I put it off for so long. I finished it last night and just sat there, mouth agape, saying wow over and over until my wife started to look at me funny. This is the third book I’ve read this year, that has been narrated by a young girl and I’m starting to think it’s my new favorite thing. I initially thought i was going to be put off by the style of language she used, but that only lasted for a couple of pages. Elka is one of the most interesting, flawed, and heart breaking characters I’ve ever read.

The story opens with a scene near the end of the book and then makes its way back to it from the beginning. This is a style I particularly enjoy, and it took what was already a quickly moving plot to break neck speeds as I raced to the end both needing to know and desperately not wanting to find out the fates of the characters. It feels odd to say that I enjoyed this book because so much of it is incredibly dark, but I did. So much. And this is one of those books that you could use as a test of character. Recommend it and if the person loves it as much as you, you’ll know you’ve found your people.

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Final Thoughts: If you enjoy post-apoctalyptic fiction but are starting to feel like they’re all sort of the same READ THIS BOOK. It’s full of lush descriptions of nature set against graphic descriptions of the damage caused by the war. The characters are complicated and unforgettable and Lewis has a way of causing visceral reactions that make you wonder how you would handle the same situation. I’ll be waiting with baited breath to read whatever she comes up with next, and you can read more about her here.

Rating: Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.20.19 AM

Favorite Characters: Elka, Penelope, Wolf

Memorable Quotes:

I tried picturing all those places on that map of BeeCee. That’s what we call our country now, just letters of its real name what most people have forgot or don’t care to remember. The map said that old name behind all the scribblings, all the new borders and territories my nana drawn on, but I could only read letters then, not whole words. All I know is that one day all the maps became useless and we had to make our own. The old’uns called that day the Fall or the Reformation. Nana said some down in the far south called it Rapture. Nana was a babe when it happened, said her momma called it the Big Damn Stupid. Set everything back to zero. I never asked why, never much cared. Life is life and you got to live it in the here- now not the back- then. And the here- now for little me was the Thick Woods, with night coming fast.

One a’ them rules is don’t go trusting another man’s path…People do it, they do what their mommies and daddies did, they make them same mistakes, they have them same joys and hurts, they just repeating. Trees don’t grow exactly where their momma is; ain’t no room…I weren’t following no one up through life.

Smell a’ bacon. Ain’t nothing in this world like it. Salt-cured, sliced thick, line a’ juicy fat crisping up in the pan. Anyone what tells you they don’t like bacon is either stupid or lying. Either way that ain’t no one you can trust.

Way I reckon it, men killed more wolves than wolves ever killed men. I know who I’m more afraid of.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

January 2017 Wrap-Up

January was my best month of reading in a long time. I read a total of 15 books, 10 print and 5 audio. My favorites in print were Scythe and The Woman in Cabin 10. For audio, Shadowshaper and the first two books of the Firebird series were really great. I had really high hopes for both Blankets and Kevin Kramer Starts on Monday, but both were underwhelming.

 

 

Sand – 4 crowns

Bad Feminist – 4 crowns

Kevin Kramer Starts on Monday – 3 crowns

Eleven Hours – 4 crowns

Blankets – 3 crowns

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line – 5 crowns

Shadowshaper – 4 crowns

Mr. Kiss and Tell – 5 crowns

What She Knew – 5 crowns

Scythe – 5 crowns

The Diabolic – 4 crowns

The Woman in Cabin 10 – 5 crowns

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird Book 1)- 4 crowns

Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird Book 2) – 5 crowns

The Hypnotists Love Story – 5 crowns

 

I’m currently reading The Nix by Nathan Hill and listening to The Raven Boys on audio, and absolutely LOVING them both!! What is everyone reading?