The Somebody People
By Bob Proehl
- The Somebody People
Author: Bob Proehl
- Series: The Resonant Duology
- ISBN: 9781789094633
- Published: July 2021
- Pages: 672
- Format reviewed: E-Book
- Review date: 13/07/2021
- Language: English
Who are the goodies and who are the baddies? In most media, the baddies are normally some form of massive entity that is squashing the smaller rebels. These rebels become the de facto good guys as they fight against repression. However, what happens when the power shifts? If the rebels take control, are they better than the baddies or do they just repeat the same mistakes? Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Seven years have passed since the events of The Nobody People, in which power shifted from those humans without superpowers to those who have. For years these powered people, or Resonants, were persecuted and eventually openly attacked. The skilled technology expert, Dr Fahima Deeb, along with other Resonants, turned the tables and now control large parts of America. A new age has started, but is it any better than the old one?
It must be a tricky decision as an author when writing a series of books; how many should there be? The Somebody People by Bob Proehl is the second part of a duology. Why two books? Because Somebody acts as the perfect second act to Nobody. Both novels come in at a handsome page length, but it makes sense to separate them. One if the rise of the Resonants and the other is what they do when they reach the top. Too many series end with the ‘heroes’ wining the day and it is up to the imagination of the reader to work out what happened. In Somebody, Proehl explores what may happen if a repressed group rises and the results are not always to turn the other cheek.
There is a wonderful sense of tone in this book that is weaved through the narrative and the characters. For all the superpowers on show, this is a book about the people, not their powers. Fans of the first book will get to spend another few hours in the company of some well-rounded creations. The relationships are complex, but this adds to the tension later in the book. Proehl takes time over both novels to build personalities so that the stakes feel far higher for the reader.
The characters are a mix of race and sexuality, and this gives the book a sense of a community growing from the ashes. The one thing they all have in common, is not their powers, but the fact they are flawed. It is the failings in the characters that makes them feel real and this is mirrored in their actions. Fahima is one of the leads and she is trying to use technology to improve the world but hidden throughout the book are glimpses into the reality.
The world building is subtle and clever. As we follow our cast the conversations and some of the action starts to hint that not all is well in this new world. Are the Resonants more repressive than the humans ever were? We learn about mass evacuations of homes and no-go areas for humans. The attitude of some of the Resonants to humans is that they are worthless. Some groups would wipe humans out, while others would convert them all into Resonants against their will. One of these plans sounds better than the other, but who are they to play God?
Somebody has concepts of superpowers and world disorder, but at the core it is a character driven piece. Action fans are still catered for in a series of set pieces that include an attack on a school and the bizarre suicides of people falling off buildings with a smile on their face. I found the exploration of how the Resonants went onto next after gaining ‘power’ the most interesting elements as some readers may find their actions flawed at best, evil at worst. You should never meet your heroes and in the case of The Somebody People, it's not a great idea to meet your superheroes either. Proehl should be commended for not trying to hide the flaws in the characters they created.
Written on 13th July 2021 by Sam Tyler .