I’m generally not a fan of stories that don’t have a classic sort of happy ending. So, picking up a post-apocalyptic fantasy on a recommendation from a friend was a bit of stretch outside my comfort zone. But I have no regrets!
The Book of M by Peng Shepherd follows the stories of a handful of characters as they make their way through a world where losing your shadow means losing your memories. And once people start losing their memories, the entire world starts to change. The consequences of lost shadows turn out to be just as disastrous as the solution is fantastical – and the journey from one to the other is nothing short of a miracle.
*Spoiler Alert for the next paragraph!*
I think this may be the first time I’ve read a book that didn’t have a traditional “happily ever after” and actually been okay with the ending. You see, you spend most of your time following Ory and Max (a married couple you meet at the very beginning) and hoping that they will be reunited and that Max’s memories will be restored. What you don’t realize right away is that on their separate adventures, they’re actually growing apart. They’re almost becoming new people as they adapt to all the changes in the world around them. And then Ory starts to move on, to begin again with someone new, because it really does seem as if Max is gone. So when Max is supposedly rescued and restored, it seems almost cruel. Ory doesn’t seem to be relieved or excited for his wife’s return :-/. In a way, I’m actually glad it wasn’t the real Max. It was a terrible shock at first – one person’s memories attached to another person’s body – but the ending gave me hope that they would all find a fresh start in this brave new world. Perhaps the initial memories that make things so complicated for “M” (as the hybrid character names herself) will fade, the way early childhood memories often do. Perhaps Ory will get a real chance at a relationship with someone who knows him as the man he has become over the course of the story. Most importantly, that same mistake will not be made twice, and a proper solution for restoring shadows was found. So, not a “happy ending” in the normal use of the term, but definitely a hopeful ending, and I can accept that!
One of my favorite parts of this book was that books were the solution all along! If anything could grant human memories and restore the lost, I’m glad it was books :-D. And in a way, reading this novel encouraged me to stay very true to my personal beliefs and values in my own books. For if fiction became fact and I needed a book to give me a shadow to restore my memories, I’d want it to be one of my own. I’d be hoping that the details and underlying messages I write would restore some sense of my former self. I should write every book as if it were my last – because you never know, it could be ;-).
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Until the next time, keep reading!
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I have two passions: reading and writing. You can't write good stories without first reading good stories - that's my theory, anyway. So this is where I'll share with you the depth of those passions: background on what and why I write, as well as talking about the books that I read and how they impact my writing.