THE SOMEBODY PEOPLE By Bob Proehl
Titan Books, s/b, £9.99
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
The sequel to The Nobody People takes up the story of those with extraordinary abilities who had been persecuted by those with none and transposed their roles. In the first novel, the people with fantastic powers were treated as second-class citizens. Exploited, locked away in secret internment camps, tortured, mutilated, killed. The first book ended with one of these few, Fahima Deeb, creating a Pulse from a machine that gave abilities to millions of people – making the few a part of a new many. The hope of the first book was that this would create unity and bring everyone together in peace and harmony. As this book opens, it becomes clear very quickly that this hope was sadly not achieved.
The underdogs from the first novel find themselves at the top of the food chain as they now outnumber those without abilities (the so-called Damps). This new utopia sees segregation between the two new classes of people, terrorists doing their thing, powerless refugees fleeing for their lives and medicines being traded illegally on the black market while many with powers live in high obsidian (not ivory!) towers. Fahima Deeb tries to get world leaders to meet with her to agree to have another pulse wave triggered in their countries to create more people with powers. But with only a two-thirds success rate and a fear of what has already happened in the US, unsurprisingly, many are not keen on the concept.
While I really enjoyed the first book, I found this a little harder to get into – once I did get into it, I enjoyed it as well, but it felt as though it could have done with a bit of an intro, a brief recap on the first (“Previously in the Nobody People…”). It had been two years between the books, but with a large cast of characters and a complex plot, I struggled to remember who was who and exactly what had happened as this jumped straight into the action.
Proehl does produce a good book, though, and after a while, this flowed well – with scenes cutting back and forth between the past and the present, building tension and providing background. He explores the complicated relationships between the factions and shows how easy it is for good intentions to be twisted out of all recognition, creating yet more evil. The lines between good and evil are blurred, and there are many shades of grey in the motives and behaviours of many of the complex characters that Proehl creates.
This is a great morality tale, as well as being a fantastically thrilling read – the back cover states that it’s for fans of the Amazon Prime TV show The Boys. While I can see some similarities, I think it’s an unfair comparison – The Nobody and Somebody People stand well enough on their own, and I’m sure it won’t be long before newer authors are compared to Bob Proehl’s work! A great book, but don’t leave too long between reading the first and the second!