I wasn’t crazy about Bob Proehl’s The Nobody People. While the premise was intriguing (kids with supernatural powers being raised and trained in a boarding school without the public’s knowledge), the novel, for reasons I’ve described in my review, was not compelling. I struggled to finish it but, in the end, I was curious about where Proehl was going with the story. For that reason, I picked up the sequel, The Somebody People, and I’m happy to report that I found this story more entertaining than its predecessor.
Several years have passed since the events of The Nobody People. The Resonant school is now being run by Fahima Deeb, the woman who created “The Pulse” which caused millions of normal citizens to suddenly develop a magical power. With her supernatural engineering skills, Fahima has remodeled New York City into a beautiful, efficient, futuristic, and affordable city.
Unfortunately, it isn’t working for everyone. While the Resonants, now the ruling class, are living in a new utopia, the “Damps” (those with no supernatural gifts) have been ghettoized to The Bronx. This has happened all over the country and Chicago is the only integrated city left in America. The two sides were at war before The Pulse occurred and Resonants have not forgotten how they were treated. Now that they are no longer a powerless minority, they have to decide how to behave toward the people who once oppressed them.
As you might guess, different groups of Resonants have different ideas about how this should be done. Members of the “Faction” want revenge and, with military tactics, are lording it over the Damps. Fahima, one of the most powerful Resonants, wants to re-create The Pulse, thinking that if more people became Resonants, things would get better. She is working on this in the laboratory and has so far not been successful, yet she is actively attempting to sell the hopefully forthcoming technology to other countries such as Germany. Other people have more sinister ideas about how to force people to become Resonants.
This us-them conflict is at the heart of The Somebody People. Many of the characters are those we met in the first book. Author Bob Proehl’s gift is to really make us feel their pain and anxiety. In this installment, the storyline featuring Clay and Dom, a gay couple who adopted a boy named Ray after his biological parents were killed in the war, is particularly poignant. Clay and Dom are worried that Ray is a Damp and are willing to do anything to protect him from becoming a target of the Faction. Also touching is the story of Kevin (also gay), the original founder of the Resonant school. In his interesting backstory we finally learn where the Resonant powers came from and why the war started.
There’s a lot more action in The Somebody People than there was in the first book. The plot is tense and exciting, though the non-linear and sometimes random seeming storytelling and the hand-waviness of the magic is sometimes frustrating. There were times, for example, when I wished that Proehl had given us certain pieces of information earlier in the story (and maybe even in the previous book) so that I could have felt the urgency and understood the stakes better.
The Somebody People ends satisfactorily and is, I’d guess, the final book in this series. Random House Audio’s edition is beautifully narrated by Thérèse Plummer. If you’re going to read THE RESONANT DUOLOGY, I recommend the audio version.