The Nobody People

The Nobody People

by Bob Proehl


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, September 25


When a group of outcasts with extraordinary abilities comes out of hiding, their clash with a violent society will spark a revolution—or an apocalypse.
“Much like the X-Men comics, Proehl masterfully uses science fiction as a lens to examine social inequality and human evil.”—Booklist

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 first book of a timely two-part series, The Nobody People is a powerful novel of love and hope in the face of bigotry that uses a world touched by the fantastic to explore our current reality. It is a story of family and community. It is a story of continuing to fight for one another, no matter the odds. It is the story of us.

Bob Proehl will return with The Somebody People

“Thoughtful, nuanced, kinetic, and, above all, human, this is the superhero story we've been waiting for.”—Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of the October Daye series

The Nobody People is an expertly plotted, morally complex, brilliantly written, adrenaline-fueled adventure into a new dawn of heroes and villains. Hold on tight to this novel, because you're in for a hell of a ride.”—Benjamin Percy, author of The Dark NetThrill MeRed Moon, and The Dead Lands

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524798956
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/03/2019
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 160,557
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Bob Proehl is the author of A Hundred Thousand Worlds, a Booklist Best Book of the Year. He has worked as a bookseller and programming director for Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, New York, a DJ, a record-store owner, and a bartender. He was a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Fiction and a resident at the Saltonstall Arts Colony. His work has appeared on Salon, as part of the 33 ⅓  book series, and in American Short Fiction.

Read an Excerpt

The phone on the nightstand buzzes and pulls Avi Hirsch up from a dream of being tossed in the air and falling, tossed and falling. The arc his body makes in the dream becomes a loop. He flails awake. The dream is recurrent, felt in his body rather than his mind. A year out of the hospital and he can’t remember on waking where he is. Kay has lost patience with this morning thrash of limbs and makes it a point to be up and out of bed before him. Avi grabs at the phone as it skitters toward the edge of the nightstand.

“I sent you something,” says the voice on the other end. “A weird one. Take a look.” The voice pauses, waits.

“Good morning, Louis,” says Avi. Louis Hoffman is Avi’s friend and occasional informant at Homeland Security. He works out of Homeland’s Chicago office, but he and Avi have known each other since Louis’s days as an army liaison. Louis hasn’t called since Avi got out of the hospital.

“Look at it,” Louis says. “Right on your phone. I’ll wait.”

“I’m in bed,” says Avi, rolling himself up to a seated position.

“What happened to ‘the news never sleeps’?” Louis says.

“That’s not a saying,” Avi says. “Besides, I’m not—­”

“Put your eyes on it and call me immediately,” says Louis, and hangs up. Avi sees the subject line on his home screen: Roseland/Ballston Common Bombings. His heart speeds up a little, that junkie rush. He thinks about opening it right now, before anything else. But Kay has let him sleep in, which sets them all behind schedule. He puts the phone on the nightstand, facedown. He picks up the sock from the floor and his prosthetic from its spot against the bed. The physical therapist says that over time, amputees start to think of their prostheses as part of their bodies. It feels like a foreign object to Avi. It looks like a plunger capped with a plastic foot. A half-­witted piece of sculpture. He goes through the ritual of attaching it to his left leg below the knee. The process is boring while requiring close attention. A bad fit becomes painful as the day wears on, unbearable by lunch. In the beginning, Kay tried to help. The angles were better. It was easier for her to perfect the fit. But Avi was so angry in those first days home from the hospital. He yelled. Swatted her hands away. He apologized, and she assured him there was no need. It was important he accept his anger, understand it as justified. She knew that in time it would flow into the correct channel rather than spilling out at her like lava over its cooled levee. Eventually she stopped offering to help with the prosthesis. She stopped offering help with stairs or getting into the minivan in case assistance implied that she thought he was helpless. She leaves him this moment every morning. Alone with his leg.

He hears the first click of the pin into the socket and eases his weight on it. There’s the deeper click, the one that echoes up his thigh. The one he can feel in his teeth. He rolls the leg of his sweatpants back down and examines his feet. The foot of the prosthesis is a shiny plastic foam, its color chosen to match Avi’s skin tone. It’s too pink, like cartoon flesh. The toes have toenails carved into them. He wonders if customers demanded this detail from the manufacturer or if the designers came up with it themselves. A little attempt at normality that makes the thing even stranger.

The floor is cold against the sole of his real foot. Avi puts on slippers and goes downstairs. Kay is at the kitchen table in the rattiest of her several bathrobes, the lavender one that offsets her dark brown skin. Her hair is up in a green silk wrap, a few tight curls escaping. She’s reading a Nnedi Okorafor novel. The amount she reads amazes Avi. She works in immigration law, zeroing in on the minutiae of the government’s shifting edicts and decrees, then fills her spare moments with science fiction and detective novels. She takes the train into the city rather than accepting a ride for the extra hour with her books. As he comes in, she gives him a bored grin that says, oh, you’re here. It’s what Avi feels reduced to this past year: the guy who keeps showing up every morning, wanted or not.

Their seven-­year-­old, Emmeline, is at the stove cooking eggs, standing on a stool to reach. She’s wearing an old apron over her school clothes. It’s so long on her that Avi worries she’ll trip over the hem. Her hair, a riot of dark corkscrews, is pulled back into a tie, exploding out the back of her head.

“Did you teach her that?” Kay asks. There’s an accusation built into the question, and Avi is quick to defend himself. It will be a long time before he invites Emmeline near the stove. Kay doesn’t cook. Avi taught Emmeline how to make toast, not much else. But here she is, flipping the eggs and folding them back on themselves, deft as a short order cook. Avi watches over her shoulder, then pushes her bangs back and kisses her forehead.

“Where’d you learn to cook, Leener?” he asks.

“They’re for you,” says Emmeline. “For your big day.”

It’s a smooth dodge of the question, put forth with Emmeline’s strange assuredness. She fixes Avi with her eyes, blue made paler by contrast to her skin, darker even than her mother’s. Then she goes back to work. Around the girl’s icy irises runs a ring of navy blue. When Emmeline was born, Kay’s mother said that this meant she’d have second sight. Kay told her to can it with that hoodoo noise. But there is something ethereal about their daughter. She seems to know things as if she’s come prepared for all the big moments in her life, along with some of the small ones. On Emmeline’s first day at kindergarten, when Avi dropped her off, he told her she was going to have a great day.

“No, I’m not,” Emmeline said, not sad but factual. “But you’ll come get me after I fall.”

“Always,” Avi said. He thought it was a testament to Emmeline’s faith that he’d be there for her. A verbal trust fall, he said when he recounted it. After lunch, Avi got a call from the school. One of the other kids, some racist little shit, Kay called him, had pushed Emmeline off the top of the slide. Avi sped to pick her up. Emmeline wasn’t hurt or upset. Avi told the story to other parents in the vein of isn’t it funny how prescient they seem sometimes. No one ever responded with a similar story, and Avi stopped bringing it up.

“Big day?” says Kay. She doesn’t look up from her book, but a smirk plays on her face.

“Not that I know of,” he says.

“Who was on the phone?” Kay says.

“Louis at Homeland. He sent something. I’ll look at it once I’ve got you all out the door. It’s probably nothing.”

Kay shifts her bookmark from its arbitrary spot near the back to where she’s at and closes the book. “Is it about the church by my mom’s?”

“I don’t know what it’s about,” he says. “I haven’t looked at it yet.”

“If it’s the church, you should pass it on to someone else.”

“Yeah,” he says. “I probably will.”

“Avi,” she says, hanging on that probably. She looks at him, then at Emmeline’s back, then at him again. Her meaning is clear from the fact that she won’t talk about it in front of Emmeline: I don’t want you writing about dead black girls in this house. Avi wants to tell her it’s not her business what he writes about and it’s not her decision what he can and can’t handle. He doesn’t.

“I’ll pass it off,” he says. “If that’s what it is.”

Kay holds him with her eyes a second longer, then reopens her book.

Emmeline clicks the burner off. “Today,” she says, half to herself. “Today things will start.” She scoops eggs off the skillet and onto a plate, which she hands to Avi. A moment of reversal, the child performing the action of the parent with uncanny accuracy.

“None for me?” says Kay, trying to be playful, to wipe the tension away.

Emmeline shakes her head. “You had toast,” she says. She points at the plate. “Try.” He obeys. Kay prefers her eggs a gooey, amorphous mass, so that’s how Avi cooks them. These are made for him, the way he’d make them for himself. Dry, overcooked so the snotlike quality that catches in Avi’s throat is gone.

“They’re perfect,” he says. Emmeline nods. She knew they would be.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Nobody People: A Novel 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
KristyJewel 3 days ago
Rating: 4 1/2 Caffeinated Stars Trigger Warning will be at the very bottom of this review. Please know that the Trigger Warnings will contain spoilers. I do not want to spoil anything for anyone, but I for some people these will be incredibly important. I first found out about this book at the Denver Pop Culture Con. The cover immediately caught my attention, and the blurb was perfect. I kept thinking about this book the entire night so went on NetGalley and requested it immediately. I was so excited when I was approved. The Nobody People is one of those books that will stick with me for a while. It's horrifying yet utterly fascinating. I couldn't put this book down yet at the same time I didn't want to finish it. The story was so dark and horrifying so much so that I found it hard to finish it at times. This book took me two weeks to complete, which is unheard of for me. Though this book took me two weeks to read, it was well worth it. The highlight of this book was the characters. They were well developed, and I loved how much depth each character had. I felt like they were friends, family, and everything in between. Each character had a role, and each role was significant. I was in awe of Bob Proehl's ability to write such strong characters. The plot of this book is something that many people will recognize. It parallels our society as well. It is an "us vs. them" type book that at times, became too realistic. It was horrifying and fascinating. I couldn't put the book down yet I didn't want to read it at the same time. For the length of the book, it did have a quick pace. The Nobody People was actioned packed, and each page was there for a reason. I am genuinely impressed with Bob Proehl's ability to create a world that is at times too realistic. **I received this book in exchange for an honest review** Trigger Warnings: Bleakness, Concentration Camps, Drug Use, Death, Murder, Sexual Assault, Suicide, Child Abuse, Cliffhanger Ending.
Karen_Benson 9 days ago
The Nobody People is a book about the people hidden throughout the world with X-Men like powers. One day they announce that they exist to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the Resonants are NOT considered superheroes. They’re just people trying to exist. Most of the normal humans are fearful of the Resonants and hate them. For whatever reason, I had a hard time getting through this book. There were definitely times when I flew through some of the chapters, but for the most part, I just couldn’t connect with the characters. I did enjoy a few of them and those were the chapters that were really good. But there were so many characters to keep up with and I had to keep stopping to go back to reread certain parts to figure out who was who. I enjoyed the premise of the story, and really liked the bizarre powers of some of the Resonants. I especially enjoyed the Resonant kids’ school. The book was ok and I’m glad I read it. I’d like to see where this story goes in book 2. *Thanks to NetGalley and Del Rey Books for an advance copy!*
Mikalynm 12 days ago
Thank you Net Galley for the opportunity. The Nobody People takes place in a setting and world like ours, but there's a group known as Resonants. They are average people who have unique abilities, like reading minds to turning invisible, etc. They struggle thru life because they are different. This book is pretty long, but I did enjoy this story. It deals with a lot of social issues that are rampant in our society. The Resonants kind of reminded me of the X-men, and the story was written very well.
LeonardR 13 days ago
Whereas I often find myself reading through the last 100 pages or so of a book because I simply can’t put it down, needing to see what happens next as I flip the pages, in The Nobody People I found myself agonizing through the final chapters just so I can finish it and move on to the next book. The beginning was interesting, it had promise. For a comic book lover, the book was perfect. It was very X-Men ish. Except the main characters are resonants, not mutants; also, they have abilities, not powers. Instead of Cerebro, you have the Hive. Gee, I hope Marvel/Disney isn’t hearing about this book. Anyways, the premise is simple. As a reporter, what would you do if you were asked by the functional equivalent of Charles Xavier to help announce to the world that people like these exist? And if you were to ask, what’s in it for me; the answer would be “Well, your daughter happens to be one of us. Not only is she one of us but she is off the charts special.” For those that admire X-Men, or even history, things don’t always seem to go as you wish when dealing with people who are different; especially if they are deemed dangerous. There are references to historical events and modern events and you can well imagine that the government authorities may have a say in matters. Of course, what’s an X-Men ish book without it’s own version of the Dark Phoenix; played by Owen Currey who can basically make people, places, and things non exist. It certainly would give the appearance of making an interesting read; but unfortunately the last 200 pages is a complete unraveling of what could have been a good story. My beliefs of what constitutes a satisfying ending and the author’s do not coincide. Clearly the book is set up for a sequel but I’m not sure whether the story left most people wanting for more. For me, I just wanted to put it, and myself out of misery. I suppose that after reading 496 pages I was expecting more of an ending that what I received. Two Tylenols later, I’ll be on to another book.
BookAddictFL 14 days ago
This book’s scope is ambitious. Whether or not that’s a good thing is open to interpretation. I have a list of reasons why it didn’t work for me. First, the plot is all-encompassing, taking on so much that it never seriously addresses anything. The subplots include PTSD, racism, sexuality, a wide variety of special abilities, good versus evil, marital and relationship issues, adolescent issues, crime, power, politics, war, and scientific advancement. Despite the wide reach, the pace is, at times, agonizingly slow. The story drags, mired in its own misery and meandering about aimlessly. Then we have an enormous cast of characters, most with narrating parts. Whose story is this? It feels like everyone is supposed to matter equally, and yet no one really matters at all. We jump from one character to the next with little rhyme or reason. We have long backstories and storylines that don’t add anything of consequence. The narrating parts lack cohesion, so the story feels scattered and far too broad for any emotional connection. Character development is lacking, largely due to the lack of focus. Emmeline, who is central to the story, never feels like more than property. She’s her parents’ daughter and the school’s prize, but I never got a sense of her emotional journey. I felt all 500 pages of this book. When I finally reached the end, it was as if the story ran out of pages rather than having reached any sort of conclusion. Or maybe dust settled over the destruction, and we’re left with the shattered mess to ponder. *I received a review copy from the publisher, via NetGalley.*
Jill-Elizabeth_dot_com 14 days ago
This was a really excellent story that grabbed me in the opening pages and never let go – although I must confess to being disappointed that it stopped rather than ended… There are a LOT of loose ends left hanging, and in a way that felt unfinished rather than cliff-hanger’ed. Despite that, I loved the story – and for me, that’s an unusual statement to make. I automatically knock a star off for an abrupt end that leaves the current elements of the story unfinished (as I did here). But usually that knock off also means I have to give an “I’m so disappointed” on the whole book – and no matter how much I might be, I just can’t do that here. The writing is amazing, the story marvelously crafted – as are the characters – and that combination makes this one of the better things I’ve read this year. Proehl has done a magnificent job crafting a world that is utterly believable and populated by a fantastic, in every sense of the word, mix of characters. The story resonates (no pun intended) with current events and extrapolates the plight of the Resonant to that of minority groups of all shapes and sizes. The story rings clarion-clear and delivers a fantastic punch all wrapped in a delightful package of witty, clever, original storytelling. There are a lot of possibilities for a sequel/subsequent books – and frankly, the way the story ended demands at least one more. I hope it comes soon – there was so much going on here, with such a panoply of characters, that it would be tough to wait too long and still keep things straight enough in my head to fully enjoy the next installment. And if the next book is anything like this one, I fully intend to enjoy it. This was a fantastic story and I will definitely be keeping Proehl on my watchlist… My review copy was provided obligation-free by the publisher and NetGalley.
mytwocents 16 days ago
Wow, there is a *lot* going on in The Nobody People. There's enough material here for a full series. As other reviewers have mentioned, there are at least five separate storylines, and each one of those storylines could be its own novel. Right now, the episodic presentation of the characters' stories feels rushed and incomplete. We get synopses of major events in characters' lives, but these should be expanded considerably. In particular, I really would have liked to read an entire novel about Fahima's backstory. Expanding that small section could make for a fantastic read! I was interested in the bits and pieces that we got of these different storylines, and I wanted to know more about these characters. Unfortunately, it seems like a mistake to try to fit such an expansive tale into a single ~500 page novel. Thanks to Random House-Ballantine and NetGalley for providing me with a DRC of this novel.
SevenAcreBooks 16 days ago
Thrilling story of how humankind reacts to the shocking discovery of those with superhuman abilities. Avi Hirsch, dedicated war reporter and family man is tasked with introducing "Resonants" into the world. Fear, prejudice, and violence threaten to destroy everyone as tensions rise between those with abilities and those without. While I enjoyed the X-Men feel and the overall story, the pacing felt very uneven and the book was overly long. With such a wide cast of characters it was difficult to follow along with all the various storylines. Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this title. All opinions are my own.
laur3296 16 days ago
This almost felt like a screen play for a super heroes movie. There were plots and sub plots. There were multiple stories going on. They were all really interesting, but i wanted more depth to some of The people. This could have been improved by making this a series of books, with more detail in each story.
Anonymous 16 days ago
I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. This is one of the best books I've read in a long time! It takes on all sorts of issues while delivering an excellent story that hooked me from the first. I'm a sucker for a superhero book, but this book, while about characters with abilities we'd consider superpowers, isn't just about those abilities. It's about humans and compassion and trying to lead a normal life. It's about people who face all forms of prejudice and about trying to figure out who the real monsters are and what you can do about it when you have to face them. I can't wait to read the next one.
MarziesReads 17 days ago
The Nobody People is a novel that is so similar to the stories of Marvel's X-Men that I wonder about infringement on the franchise. Mutants, I mean Resonants, are humans who secretly walk among us, who have special powers. Sometimes those powers are clearly defined (like being filled with high energy blue light or being able to throw people into a null space or read people's minds or even control their minds) and other times we are left wondering. Resonants can be very good or very bad or occasionally confused about what makes a person one or the other. Resonants are running an Academy and are ready to reveal themselves to the world, which may be at their own peril, since the world has not proven itself ready to be intolerant of an intolerance for difference. Reader, I struggled with this book. Many characters, some never clearly defined, and so many storylines that evolved at an odd pace. And it just felt so derivative. If you're going to redo the X-Men, I just think you could strive for something more. I received a Digital Review Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Jypsylynn 17 days ago
Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. All opinions expressed are my own. *REVIEW* The Nobody People tells the tale of a group of people, kids, who should not, but do, exist. Called The Resonants, they decide to emerge from hiding and show themselves to the world. Good or bad idea? The world is not kind to those who are different. This story is no exception. They are faced with judgment, ridicule and discrimination of race, sexual orientation and gender identity. And, questions arise about their powers and the uses of them being lawful, etc. Things look bleak. Obviously, the premise has been written before, but this story is engaging with its underlying ethical questions and moral values. How would you feel about a group of people with superpowers? Yay or nah? The subject is definitely debatable. Fans of action hero movies and comic books should try this book. I enjoyed the story overall and found it thought provoking and compelling.
MKF 17 days ago
Avi's been hired to write the story of the Resonants, young people with special powers who want to make the world understand that they aren't evil or destructive. Yes, this is reminiscent of the X-Men and fans of that series likely will quibble back and forth about Proehl's novel but if X-Men isn't your absolute favorite (or like me you don't know it well), this is a good, well done sci-fi novel about people (yes people) who just want to belong. There are a lot of characters and each tells the story from their own perspective which is a tad difficult to keep track of at first but once you settle in, it's easy to know who's who. I liked this more than I expected to. Thanks to net galley for the ARC. It would also be a good crossover for YA/NA sci-fi fans.
bookluvr35SL 12 days ago
This is the first book of a two-part series, The Nobody People is about a group of people with extraordinary powers that face bigotry and fear because of those powers. Some of those are using their powers to hurt others and that is just fueling the fire. The others have made a family and community where they can learn to control their powers in a safe environment. I really wanted to like this book. At times I did like it. But for me there were too many characters to keep up with who everyone was, and there was just too much going on. I think some people may like it. It just wasn't for me.