Avi Hirsch has always known his daughter was different. But when others with incredible, otherworldly gifts reveal themselves to the world, Avi realizes that her oddness is something more—that she is something more. With this, he has a terrifying revelation: Emmeline is now entering a society where her unique abilities unfairly mark her as a potential threat. And even though he is her father, Avi cannot keep her safe forever.
Emmeline soon meets others just like her: Carrie Norris, a teenage girl who can turn invisible . . . but just wants to be seen. Fahima Deeb, a woman with an uncanny knack for machinery . . . but it’s her Muslim faith that makes the U.S. government suspicious of her.
They are the nobody people—ordinary individuals with extraordinary gifts who want one only thing: to live as equals in an America that is gripped by fear and hatred. But the government is passing discriminatory laws. Violent mobs are taking to the streets. And one of their own—an angry young man seething with self-loathing—has used his power in an act of mass violence that has put a new target on the community. The nobody people must now stand together and fight for their future, or risk falling apart.
The world is about to change. Avi Hirsch knows there’s something a little different about his daughter Emmeline, she has very few friends except for the imagined and acts far older than her age. So when he is contacted by a man called Kevin Bishop and told that ‘Resonants’ exist (people with superhuman abilities) and he runs a school for them in New York, Avi takes the news better than expected. Bishop has decided that Resonants should come out of hiding, and he wants Avi to write the piece exposing them to the world. He also tells Avi that Emmeline is like them, she is a resonant, although they’re unsure what it is yet. What follows is a tale we all know too well. A group defined as ‘different’ are exposed and humanity is put to the test. Only what Bishop and his fellow teachers don’t realise is the bigger threat might be coming from within.
The book is told from four main perspectives; Avi the ‘damp’ someone with no Resonant. His main purpose for taking the story initially, and sticking with Bishop is to keep Emmeline as safe as he can. He feels that if he writes the pieces, tells the story how he wants it to be told then people might just react a little better. Unfortunately, his need to protect Emmeline is weighted by the fact that he is a regular human, there is nothing special about him and pretty soon he realises he will spend his whole life looking into a world where his daughter fits, but he will never belong. Avi’s perspective is the closest we get to us the reader actually becoming part of the book. He asks the questions we want answers too, he follows the leads we know need seeing through, and his story is both heart-warming and utterly heart-breaking.
Fahima Deeb is one of the teachers at Bishop’s school. She is a whiz with technology, her Resonant allows her to hear the ‘feelings of technology, and the genetics behind certain Resonants powers. She isn’t sure that ‘coming out’ to the world is the right thing to do. As a Muslim, she has lived with her fair share of hate and knows that people will choose to hate a group of people simply because they are different. She is headstrong and brilliant, and her perspective is SO important to the overall plot. She not only gives us as the reader a greater insight into Resonants the different kinds and what they can do, but through her the author weaves lots of little tit bits of information that allow us to follow the secondary, but equally as important story line.
Carrie is another ‘resonant’ one with the ability to disappear not just from view, but also from people’s memories. She has spent her life being forgotten by the people she loves, having to see her parents surprise at her existence every time she comes home, so the school is her safe haven. She feels seen there, safe, until that fateful day when the world discovers who has been hiding beside them for years. Her story gives us a greater insight into the treatment of Resonants once they are made public. How the world is amazed at first and then inevitably shuns them. Realises they have the potential to become dangerous. Her story does not paint a pretty picture of humanity, realistic unfortunately, but certainly not pretty.
Our final perspective is Owen Curry, a seemingly normal boy who all of a sudden has the ability to make things disappear into the void forever. Bishop didn’t find Owen, another Resonant has, one who seems to have an ulterior motive that Owen’s ability will certainly come in handy for. This person seems to think that humanity will never treat them as equals, and has a plan for when the inevitable happens. All of these perspectives together give us a 360 view of the story. The author leaves no stone, or perspective unturned and we as the reader have to decide whose side we are ultimately on.
This book is the perfect blend of the wonder of ‘X-Men’ with the no holds barred brutality of ‘The Boys’, but with a whole new level of complexity weaved in. It hits hard from the get go, and the author does nothing to sugar-coat the depravity of humanity, how we can become the absolutely worst version of ourselves when greeted with something we don’t understand. Proehl’s writing is fearless. I was blown away by the depth of the questions Proehl raised for consideration as not just readers, but human beings. In the context of today’s society, it could not be more relevant. Neighbours are being taken from homes in unmarked vans, protesters are being ripped from the streets by the people claiming to ‘protect them’ and families who have travelled miles for a chance of a better life are being turned away from borders. It’s easy to say how we would react if you bore witness to your neighbour being taken, or someone being ripped from the streets, but do you? Would you put your life on the line to protect that of a virtual stranger? Would you put your family in harm’s way to save another? It’s easy to say you would fight it, and I would love to assume that would be the case, but we can never truly know how we would act until we were put in that scenario. Nobody People, in its fictional world, aims to put you in that spotlight. If you woke up one day to find out your neighbour could shoot lasers with their eyes, shoot cannonballs out of their hands, or even just simply read your mind, a part of you would be amazed yes? But maybe another part would be asking if they can do those things then what’s to stop them from harming innocent people? We don’t like change. We don’t like things that are different, that we see as a potential threat. Nobody People shows how humanity treats those who fit into those categories.
With a hard hitting topic you will be un-surprised when I say this was by no means a fast read. I had to take my time, making sure I read every single word because there are so many hints and clues to the questions we want answered. Who is the person in Owen Curry’s head? What is their end goal? What is Emmeline’s Resonant? Whose side are were truly on? This last question is made even harder when we realise that is isn’t simply ‘norms’ vs ‘Resonants’ but we have warring factions within the Resonants themselves, those that just want to be seen as normal, live their lives without hassle, just want to be accepted into humanity as a whole. And then we have the ones who feel that isn’t an option, the ones that feel that humanity isn’t ready for people like them, never will be. And unfortunately in the way only humans can, we prove the latter right. Internment camps start opening, white unregistered vans appear stealing people away from their lives and homes. We see a lot of parallels between how the government are treating the Resonants & how our government is treating immigrants & the author doesn’t shy away from highlighting the governments failing on a humanitarian level.
I honestly didn’t expect this book to be as hard hitting as it was, and while there are some lighter moments, it really does take us on a deep dive as to how humanity is failing. There were some scenes of a sexual nature that I felt were a little OTT and didn’t further the plot in any way, but as a whole I can safely say I loved this book. We get treated to one hell of a cliff-hanger ending and I for one am eagerly anticipating getting my hands on book two.
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