The Book of M
William Morrow, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle
he Book of M
, by Peng Shepherd, is a novel about the end of the world as we know it. Starting in India with just one man, peoples' shadows disappear, and at first this is celebrated. It seems as though the first man to lose his shadow has become special, and he's seen on television the world over as he dances and laughs amid crowds of admirers.
oo soon it becomes apparent that he is gradually losing his memory, for the shadow is a necessary component of memory in this imaginary dystopian world. Doctors look for solutions, and the man is taken into isolation where he can be studied and safe. As the
begins to spread, people who still have shadows start to believe that this phenomenon is contagious, and all-out war on the shadowless is soon the rule, as all the countries in the world become affected. Adding to the general fear, the memories of the shadowless are replaced by an ability to do magic.
oon after the first few shadowless appear in India, Ory and his wife Max go to a wedding of close friends that takes place in a hotel in a forested area near Arlington, Virginia. During the festivities they realize that there are now people without shadows in the United States. So most of the wedding party choose to stay in the hotel, where they feel safe from the epidemic.
s time passes, and it becomes apparent that some of them are also losing their shadows, the other people who came to the wedding leave, concerned about family members in other places and the dwindling supply of food in the hotel. By the time Max loses her shadow, only she and Ory are left, and while Ory is gone looking for food, Max sneaks away by herself, afraid that she might hurt Ory when her memory is gone - for if she doesn't recognize him any more, she might use magic against him.
he third main character is Mahnaz Ahmadi, a talented archer who has come to Boston from Tehran to train for the Olympics. As the story progresses we follow Ory, Max, and Mahnaz as they journey through this strange and dangerous new world, attempting to find a safe haven. The story cycles among these three, telling us of their adventures and how they survive.
his is a wonderful disaster book! I love dystopian novels like this one, that are well-written with believable and likable characters. We hope for a good outcome for these three as they face unfathomable odds, for there are dangers from people with shadows as well as from the magical creations of the shadowless. Along the way we meet the wonderful people who help them, and these people are just as warm and caring as our three main characters. The end is strange and bittersweet, but satisfying.
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