It’s book review time!
Today we’re chatting about the Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian novel: The Book of M by Peng Shepherd.
Whew chile, this was rough!
At least, for me, it was.
First, we’ll get into the synopsis, then I’m going to tell you about why this book was a no-go, no-no, for me.
Just so you’ll know, both the synopsis, and the review, are spoiler-free.
Let’s get into it –
One day a man mysteriously loses his shadow.
His memories soon follow.
As the days pass, more people lose their shadows too, along with their memories.
What began as a singular case, quickly turns into a global pandemic.
Widespread chaos follows.
We follow married couple Ory and Max, just after Max has lost her shadow.
Max, not wanting to endanger Ory, because losing your shadow has strange side-effects, flees their home.
Despite a promise they made to one another, he refuses to leave her alone in a world filled with danger, so he goes after her.
::Official synopsis here::
Y’all, let me tell you that I was super excited to read this. I was expecting this to be awesome!
But as I said earlier, it didn’t work for me (though it did for a lot of other people, says the reviews on GoodReads). And not just any ol’ didn’t-work-for-me: this was my lowest rated read of the year, coming in at 2.75 out of 5 Stars.
Here’s why –
1: Clunky Writing
I’d read a sentence, and think: wait, what?
I read quite a few sentences over and again, because the meaning was unclear. And there were a few that I never did ascertain the meaning.
If there’s one thing about me, it’s that good writing is essential for me to enjoy a story.
Thankfully for the most part, the writing was OK.
2: That Timeline: Sheesh!
First of all, what on God’s green earth was happening with that timeline?
So, we had present time and flashbacks, right? That part I understood.
Now let me tell you what I didn’t understand.
We follow 4 different character perspectives told in alternating chapters. In the books I’ve read that are narrated in this way, the story-lines are concurrent. But nope, not in this story. And do you know what? I didn’t even figure that out until the last 1/3 of the story. I thought everything was happening simultaneously. It could just be that I missed the memos.
But if not, whew, this was rough!
3. Unnecessary Perspective
There is a character perspective, I won’t spoil which one, that added not one iota to the story. It could’ve been eliminated and we would’ve had the exact same story.
4: Is Un-Elaborating a Thing?
Because if it is, this story needed it.
Oh, I’ve got it! Editing! That’s what it needed. More editing.
This novel could’ve been much improved by tighter writing. My opinion is that there is no reason for it to be as long as it is. My copy comes in at just under 500 pages. Way. too. long. and. not. necessary.
5: That Worldbuilding: Oh!
This is where she lost me! Here. Right here.
So, the world, and the rules thereof, unfold in the first part of the novel. We’re not given everything at once, but little by little.
So, the world, I understood. I suspended my disbelief, and I accepted it.
But then, around the 2/3 mark: BAM! New rules that are inconsistent with what was first laid out.
Suspended disbelief revoked!
It just got too outlandish, with no reasonable explanation.
And that’s where she lost me.
I mean, I couldn’t go on any longer…but I did.
6: What Was The Point?
And that’s an issue.
If I’ve read through your entire book and come away wholly unclear about the point, we definitely took a wrong turn somewhere along the way.
I’m not sure what the author was going for, but this story was all over the place. All over errwhere, I say.
7: The Title Don’t Make No Sense
Yes “don’t”. Not “doesn’t”, simply “don’t”.
I could’ve chunked my book across the room when the reasoning for the title was revealed. It’s tangentially related but not enough for the novel to be called The Book of M.
I mean: c’mon!
Let me say that I applaud anyone who writes a novel (especially their debut novel), and gets it published. That’s quite an accomplishment, and no easy feat, I bet. And for that I support Peng Shepherd.
But I can not recommend this book. There were too many missed for me. I wish it was different, but this is the fact.
How about you – have you read this? If so, let me know what you thought.
If not, what Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian novels do you recommend?
Until next time…
All the Best,