Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Book of M - by Peng Shepherd

May is Mystery Month and I don't really like mysteries. I especially don't like the serial mysteries that involve some amateur sleuth in a small town with a disproportionate number of murders. It seems like a lot of library mysteries are of this type. People keep recommending them to me, and I keep not liking them. However, I do like to have a variety of genres on this blog, so I googled library mysteries and found this title. The description appealed to me because it looked supernatural, surreal, and, most decidedly, not part of a murder series. If you are a person who likes this genre I do have some posts which you can find here and here.

It turned out that much of what takes place in this dystopian novel is rather prescient. A mysterious disease causes people to lose their shadows, and eventually their memories. Quarantines, food shortages, suspicion and fear abound. Shadowless people not only lose their own memories, but memories of virtually everything. Some don't remember how to eat, to read, or to talk. Women don't understand what their periods are (and as a bonus have no idea that they'd been taught to be ashamed of them). Shadowless also eventually forget that there are laws of physics, and once they forget that, they can simply ignore those laws. People can mutate themselves and others; prison cells become their own means of escape.

I read quite a bit of this without seeing anything about a library, so I naturally grew concerned that I'd been duped. Fortunately, I was reading an e-version of the book which allowed me to search easily for the word library to find out if indeed this were a library-centric book. Although the first instance of the word doesn't show up until about 40% in, it then becomes quite important. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC is the location of a battle for books between the shadowed and the shadowless. Of no surprise to this librarian the books ultimately prove to be the salvation of all.