Review: The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself.

One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.

Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.

Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless.

As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. It does not impact my review. 

The Book of M will be available June 5, 2018. 

The Book of M is certainly an ambitious debut. Covering multiple characters, countries, and time in painstaking detail, it explores a new dystopian world where the loss of memories results in dangerous magic.

While I did like the book, I wanted to like it more than I actually did. The pace is pretty slow as the world building is established and it took me awhile to really get into the story. The writing was very detailed and I personally would have appreciated a little less. I thought it made the book much longer than it needed to be. However, it was pretty character-driven and I did feel like I got to know the main characters pretty well.

The story is told in the POV of Ory, Max, Naz, and The One Who Gathers. Ory and Max are married and when Max loses her shadow she decides to leave Ory so she won’t accidentally hurt him. She comes across a group of other Shadowless heading to New Orleans and joins them. Ory is desperate to find her and along the way comes across a group of other Shadowed, including Naz, a former Olympic hopeful in archery who now helps lead the soldiers of her group. Both groups are trying to find out if the rumors they’ve heard about New Orleans are true. The One Who Gathers was once just a man with retrograde amnesia who became connected with the first man to lose his shadow and his memories, but has become something incredibly different. I did think all the POVs were well done. I liked all of the characters, but I never really fell in love with any of them, which made it kind of difficult to really care about what happened to them.

Overall, I enjoyed The Book of M, but I didn’t love it. I liked the characters and how they all became connected. However, I thought the plot was a little drawn out and felt the emotional impact I was supposed to experience missed the mark a bit. While this dystopian tale may not be for me, I think there will be a lot of people that will really like it. I recommend it if you enjoy character-driven novels with a touch of magical realism. I do look forward to seeing what Peng Shepherd writes next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

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Review: Proxy (Proxy #1) by Alex London

Proxy (Proxy, #1)

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.

Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.

Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

Proxy was an enjoyable read with an interesting take on the Dystopian genre. It worked well in some places and not as well in others.

The world building was just enough to get the gist of the new society, without delving too far into the how and why. There are Patrons, the rich society who live super hi-tech, lux lives. Then there are the poorer population in the Valve. They live in kind of the sewers of the Patrons. The whole society is based on debt. Just being “rescued” from the outside wilderness gives you ten years of debt. Every medical appointment or purchase can add on years to your debt. The Patrons buy your debt and in return you work it off as their proxies. Inspired from the idea of whipping boys, when a Patron misbehaves, his Proxy is punished. There is a resistance, The Rebooters, who want to forgive all debts and start over, there are the wealthy Patrons who are happy with the way things are, and there’s Syd, a Proxy who just wants to pay off his debt and be left alone.

Of course, Syd is the reluctant hero of the story. When an especially severe punishment is handed down from Knox’s behavior, Syd’s debt, which is just a couple years of being repaid, is almost doubled and he goes on the run to escape it. With the help of his best friend, Egan, his Patron, Knox, and a Causegirl, Syd runs head first into his destiny.

There’s some confusing back story and unlikely coincidences that leads to the final chapters. All Syd wants is a choice, but all choices seem to already be made for him. A twist at the end brings redemption to one character and hope to another.

I thought Syd and Knox were both relatively well developed. They both have demons they face and both have some growth throughout the novel, but ultimately I never found either of them particularly lovable. I found it refreshing that this is a YA novel that didn’t revolve around romance. I also liked that Syd’s sexual orientation is just another part of his character and was not used as some greater platform.

Overall, I enjoyed Proxy. While I thought the world building and the the back story could have been a ittle more developed and explained, the plot was interesting and pretty fast-paced. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Rating (out of 5):
Plot: 3.5
Characters: 3
Readability: 3.5
Enjoyability: 3.5
Overall Rating: 3.375 Stars

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – 4 stars (out of 5)

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)

Scarlet is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. The Lunar Chronicles are loosely based on fairytales, but set in the future with androids and cyborgs and aliens called Lunars. It doesn’t sound like it would be good, but it is.

The first book in the series, Cinder, is based on Cinderella (but in this case she is a refugee cyborg Lunar Princess that the Lunar Queen, Lavana, wants to kill to maintain her authority) and Scarlet is based on Little Red Riding Hood. Scarlet’s grandmother has gone missing and Scarlet sets off to find her at any cost. She joins forces with a street fighter nicknamed “Wolf” (I know, right) who isn’t exactly who he seems to be.

Scarlet’s grandmother is the same woman that harbored Cinder after she was rescued from Luna as a child and Scarlet’s and Cinder’s stories converge when Cinder and her fellow prison escapee, self-appointed Captain, Thorne, begin their own search for Michelle, Scarlet’s grandmother.

Meanwhile, newly appointed Emperor Kai is dealing with the fallout of Cinder’s escape and Queen Lavana’s threats to attack Earth if Cinder is not found.

Thoughts:

I usually don’t like sequels that change the main point of view, but I didn’t mind this one since Cinder was still a large presence in the book. The story was told through alternating points of view between Scarlet, Cinder, Kai, Thorne, and Wolf, though predominately between Scarlet and Cinder.

I enjoyed all the new characters. We still get to see my favorites from the first book – Cinder, Kai, and Iko, Cinder’s android friend whose personality chip Cinder inserts into Thorne’s stolen spaceship – as well as introduced to Scarlet, Wolf, and Thorne. While Scarlet has some of the teenage girl qualities that annoy me in most YA books (impulsive, blames everyone else for her problems, thinks she can go against people much stronger and more powerful than her, falls in love after a day), I generally liked her. And she and Wolf provided the requisite romance that I was afraid was going to come up between Cinder and Thorne.

I liked Thorne. He’s arrogant, but in an amusing way and his bantering with Cinder provides almost all the humor in the book. I was concerned that it would turn into romance that would eventually lead into a love triangle with Kai in a future book (I’m so not a fan of the love triangles), but I felt like it became more a friendship and partnership than anything else.

The book seemed a little longer than necessary, but I felt it was paced well, rarely dragging. The change in POV was well placed, not leaving cliffhangers at the end of every chapter only to return to three or four chapters later.

Overall, I really enjoyed Scarlet. I think I liked it better than the first book and look forward to the next in the series, which will be loosely based on Rapunzel.