Thursday, January 3, 2019

Review: The Book of M

One normal day, an Indian man's shadow vanishes. He is the first of many, as people all over the world find their shadows have disappeared, and their memories soon follow. Max and Ory have managed to stay safe so far by holing up in a remote mountain hotel after the wedding of their friends. When Max's shadow vanishes, Ory is determined to care for her. But Max wants to protect her husband while she still can, and she leaves their sanctuary. Ory refuses to let his love die alone without any memories and goes after her, hoping he can navigate this increasingly perilous world and find Max before it is too late.

Four years later, it still seems impossible for discuss an end-of-the-world story without comparing it to Station Eleven. I think there is a lot of comparison to be made between the two. Neither book is particularly concerned with the why of the disaster and instead, they focus on what happens to people as a result. Both stories take place on the road, which gives the authors the ability to introduce us to different locations and show their characters in varied situations.

One of the joys of reading The Book of M is discovering just how far and wide Peng Shepherd has allowed her imagination to wander. She follows Ory and Max not just on their journeys in the present, but she goes back to how they survived the early days of this crisis, and introduces the first victim, an amnesiac who tries to help him, and a potential Olympian reaching whose sport will be very helpful. This story is expansive and I loved seeing effects of this crisis that I could not have imagined and meeting groups of people who were willing to make different choices and sacrifices to survive.

In stories like this, the characters and the reader wonder if they can truly be human if they set aside things like compassion and beauty to stay alive. In The Book of M, the question becomes if we are still the same without our memories. If we have forgotten everything that makes us the people we are, are we still human at all?

One of the marks of great fiction for me is thinking about what these characters did before the story began and after the final page, and this is definitely a book where I did that. The story and its characters are unforgettable and I'm so glad I experienced the end of the world with Max and Ory.

The Book of M
By Peng Shepherd
William Morrow June 2018
485 pages
From the library

1 comment:

  1. Without memories I don't think I'd be who I am today. Losing my shadow would be strange, but losing my memories? So wouldn't want to experience that!