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The Book of M
By Peng Shepherd
Reading Guide | International Editions
Amazon Best Book of the Year
Elle Best Book of the Year
Refinery29 Best Book of the Year
The Today Show Best Book of the Summer
NPR On Point Best Book of the Summer
Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award For Debut Speculative Fiction Winner
Strand Bookstore Book HookUp Book
Powell’s Books Staff Pick
Indigo Books Staff Pick
“…[A] moving treatise on love and loss, with the bonus of a stunning denouement.” —The Guardian
“Eerie, dark, and compelling, this will not disappoint lovers of The Passage and Station Eleven.” —Booklist
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—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 called Transcendence 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.
“Shepherd has crafted an engaging and twisty tale about memory’s impact on who or what we become. For aficionados of literary dystopian fiction such as Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven or those who enjoy stories of cross-country travel.” —Library Journal
“…[A] powerful post-apocalyptic masterpiece and the one dystopian novel you really need to read this year.” —Bustle
“This is an apocalyptic thriller with heart. . . . The Book of M is devastating and inventive as Shepherd examines the value of memory, packing in imaginative twists as she goes.” — USA Today
“Eerily magical . . . At the heart of the novel is a timeless question about the meaning of memory.” — Time
“I love a good dystopian page-turner, and Peng Shepherd’s debut novel is the real deal. . . . Shepherd mixes in elements of multiple genres, like post-apocalyptic thriller and fantasy. But at its core, it’s a meditation on memories and personhood, as Shepherd asks which one defines the other.” — Elle
“It is an incredible concept, and she is a brilliant, brilliant new fiction writer. This is someone who you’re eventually going to have on this couch—she’s that good.” — Brad Thor, #1 New York Times bestselling author, on the Today show
“I was both disturbed and inspired by Max’s and Ory’s journey through apocalypses large and small. Peng Shepherd has written a prescient, dark fable for the now and for the soon-to-be. The Book of M is our beautiful nightmare shadow.” — Paul Tremblay, award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World
“Sheperd’s debut is graceful and riveting, slowly peeling back layers of an intricately constructed and unsettling alternate future.” — Publishers Weekly
“Eerie, dark, and compelling, this will not disappoint lovers of The Passage (2010) and Station Eleven (2014).” — Booklist
“Brilliant debut . . . The Book of M is right up there with Station Eleven: achingly beautiful literary novels about a changed world.” — Refinery29
“A beautiful and haunting story about the power of memory and the necessity of human connection, this book is a post-apocalyptic masterpiece and the one dystopian novel you really need to read this year.” — Bustle
“The Book of M is exciting, imaginative, unique, and beautiful. Shepherd proves herself not just a writer to watch, but a writer to treasure.” — Darin Strauss, bestselling author of Half a Life
“Prepare to fall in love with your own shadow. And to lose sleep. Shepherd is urgently good, and has written one of those books that makes you look up at two in the morning, to a world that’s new, newly scary, and freshly appreciated: what all the great stories do.” — David Lipsky, New York Times bestselling author of Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself and Absolutely American
“A beautifully written existential apocalypse, following everyday people on a search for love, memory and meaning across the richly realized and frighteningly familiar ruins of America.” — Christopher Brown, author of Tropic of Kansas
“First-time novelist Shepherd has crafted an engaging and twisty tale about memory’s impact on who or what we become. For aficionados of literary dystopian fiction such as Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven or those who enjoy stories of cross-country travel.” — Library Journal
“Fans of Station Eleven, listen up!…This one is g-r-e-a-t.” — Book Riot
“Outstanding and unforgettable . . .The Book of M is a scary, surprising, sad and sentimental story that will be deeply felt by readers while capturing their imaginations and hearts.” — BookPage (Top Fiction Pick)
“For fans of Station Eleven, this summer release will have you engulfed from beginning to end.” — Popsugar
“[Shepherd’s] first novel, The Book of M, tells the fantastic story of ordinary people caught up in a catastrophe in which people lose their shadows — and their memories.” — PBS (Arizona)
“Beautifully written, Peng Shepherd delivers an extraordinary story about love, hope, the unquenchable search for answers that may never come, and, ultimately, survival . . . The characters all have such depth to them that it’s impossible to not become invested in the story, which twists and turns often.” — The Real Book Spy
“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.” — The Nerd Daily
“Reminiscent of books like Stephen King’s The Stand, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, and Michael Tolkin’s NK3 . . . she keeps the journey interesting, makes us care about her characters, and invites us to think about how we are all the stuff of dreams.” — Toronto Star
“The Book of M shines consistently, first in the sense of magical wonder that permeates each of its pages, and second, in the emotional depth that Shepherd is able to draw out of her characters… brutal and brilliant in equal measure.” — The Contemporary Clerk
“In her debut novel, The Book of M, Peng Shepherd has created a fantastical scenario where people not only lose their past but can also re-create the world any way they want . . . Shepherd’s tale pushes the post-apocalyptic story in a new and exciting direction, making readers ponder questions about reality, self-perception and relationships.” — Shelf Awareness
“Captivating . . . 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.” — TheMarySue.com