The Nobody People (The Resonant Duology book 1) by Bob Proehl (book review).

Some people have super-powers. Not because of radioactive spider bites or getting caught in chemical spills. Government labs or mad scientists aren’t building them as super-soldiers. Some people just have super-powers and they’re finding it harder and harder to hide.

Avi Hirsch doesn’t know what to think when his friend in Homeland Security brings him to what used to be a church. It isn’t a bombsite. Avi knows about bombs. His journalistic specialty is bombs, their creation and their effects, the people that make them and the lives that they destroy. The footage captured by survivors is better than most, not shaking and falling over as the blast wave hits. There was no blast wave. No jagged edges of pipes hanging forlornly over the crater. Instead, there is an empty space, a perfect, symmetrical sphere that is just gone. This isn’t the first time, neither.

Investigating these attacks draws Avi and his family into a hidden world that is preparing to come out. They call themselves Resonants and Avi’s daughter might just be the most powerful Resonant of them all.

I can definitely feel an X-Men influence on ‘The Nobody People’. The story has similar thematic elements to the first ‘X-Men’ movie. A world similar to our own finds out about people with strange and unexplained powers living all around them. An enigmatic leader with psychic powers who built a strange mental space for Resonants to meet and discover each other. An opinionated woman arguing for Resonant rights against the white male capitalistic world. A young girl more powerful than she knows that could be put into a machine to change the world even further. The battle between Resonants who want to live alongside those without powers and those who would use their powers to fight back against fear and oppression.

The fear that leads to bigotry and micro-aggressions against minority groups such as Muslims, the non-binary and women is shown in realistic detail and then turned up and amplified against the Resonants. Everyone fears the different to some degree and seek those like themselves but when does a community become an enclave become a ghetto? When does standing up for your rights become a rebellion? The story of the Resonants condenses these issues projects these issues into the fantastic.

What elevates this novel beyond its probable inspiration is the characters that take that super-hero comicbook world and bring into the everyday. The point of view shifts between on both sides of the conflict which allows the reader to glimpse into their early lives and see what lead them to where they are now. But rather than focusing solely on the Resonnets, author Bob Proehl also has the character of Avi, which anchors the story in something close to what we would call normal so the world of the Resonants is not some over there bubble. Avi is a former war correspondent who is not coping so well with his experiences.

When he lost his leg, he thought he’d burned away that drive to be amid a crisis that he could live a normal life. That sense of dislocation and separation from the everyday western world is only enhanced when he is drawn into the world of the Resonants and their official ‘coming out’ into the world. Avi has no super-power. As much as he is brought into their world, Avi can never be one of them and can never understand what it is to be one of them. He can only observe and flail around in an often misguided attempt to help, to belong, even as he is caught between both sides. Avi’s plight feels quite of the moment in these days of racial protest and ‘black lives matter’ versus ‘all lives matter’.

Where the attempt to show support might be seen as tokenistic. This is a time where there is a lot of focus on just who is forming the narrative and Avi is, for me, an example of that struggle of how those on neither side can truly be in the middle.

The sequel, ‘The Somebody People’, was released in September and I am very keen to see how things play out.

LK Richardson

October 2020

(pub: Del Rey/Penguin/Random House, 2020. 512 page enlarged paperback. Price: $18.00 (US), £15.58 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-52479-897-0)

check out website: www.delreybooks.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.