The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

The Book of M is an engaging and creative dystopian fiction, and the multiple narratives that the book follows allow for a a much broader experience. I also listened to this on audio, so can highly recommend that format – I don’t tend to get on reading fiction in audiobook format but this worked so well! The narrators were both excellent (one male and one female), but the female narrator just knocked it out of the park. The emotion she invested into her chapters was so effective and really added to my overall investment in the story.

The story is set in a dystopian future across several countries where people have started to lose their shadows, and along with that as the condition worsens, their memory. Two of the central characters are husband and wife, Ory and Max, who find themselves in an abandoned hotel in the woods escaping all of this. Very early on, Max loses her shadow, and makes the decision to leave Ory and record her memories to preserve them while she searches for a cure. It is incredibly difficult to say too much more about the plot of this book, particularly as I felt it really hit its stride later when the narratives started merging and the pace of events really quickened. Needless to say, the story is fact paced and for obvious reasons works really well to be told from multiple perspectives.

My only criticism, which possibly says more about me as a reader than of Shepherd’s writing, is that some of the magical realism and plot complexities at about the 75% mark lost me and I felt that I didn’t always have a good sense of what was happening. I always wonder if I’d face the same issues if I read the book in print, but given how much I enjoyed the book overall this is a minor point.

In terms of style, this reminded me so much of what Naomi Alderman was ambitiously trying to achieve in The Power (my one criticism of that book was that I felt I wasn’t invested enough in any given character, and often was lost in the many different plot perspectives), but I think Peng Shepherd executes it more effectively in limiting the points of view we follow. I had the fortune of buddy-listening to this with Kendra and we raced through this! I now want to read Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven as Kendra mentioned that it reminded her so much of that book!

Book of M
Image Credit: Harper Collins 





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