Rating: 4 stars
Everyone tells Kat that her online personality – confident, funny, opinionated – isn’t her true self. Kat knows otherwise. The internet is her only way to cope with a bad day, chat with friends who get all her references, make someone laugh. But when she becomes the target of an alt-right trolling campaign, she feels she has no option but to Escape, Quit, Disappear.
With her social media shut down, her website erased, her entire online identity void, Kat feels she has cut away her very core: without her virtual self, who is she?
She brought it on herself. Or so Wesley keeps telling himself as he dismantles Kat’s world from across the classroom. It’s different, seeing one of his victims in real life and not inside a computer screen – but he’s in too far to back out now.
As soon as Kat disappears online, her physical body begins to fade and while everybody else forgets that she exists, Wesley realises he is the only one left who remembers her. Overcome by remorse for what he has done, Wesley resolves to stop her disappearing completely. It might just be the only way to save himself.
All the Lonely People is a timely story about online culture – both good and bad – that explores the experience of loneliness in a connected world, and the power of kindness and empathy over hatred.
10th January 2019
Thank you so much to Atom for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Firstly, I feel I need to say that this book has such an interesting and innovative concept, but it does require suspending your belief throughout reading this book! I do not know how to categorise this book, some combination of contemporary and sci-fi maybe? But either way it is fascinating and such an original way of representing the ideas and issues discussed in this book.
So the overarching plot of this novel was about the effects of deleting an online presence, and how that affects the person. The premise follows that if someone truly wants to disappear then they can achieve something called the ‘Fade’, where they literally fade out of existence and cannot be seen by anyone else. I won’t say too much more about this concept as half the fun of reading this book is to discover it as you progress through the book, but take my word that it is a truly fascinating concept.
So throughout this book we follow Kat, a girl who has had quite a large social media following from forums etc but has been a victim of some horrible cyber-bullying, and after a final attack on her she decides to delete all of her media, removing herself from the internet completely and as a result triggering the Fade. We also follow one of the attackers, Wesley, who is the only one who is even slightly aware of Kat’s situation, as he wrestles with himself about the consequences of his actions.
The plot was paced really well, with enough time to get into it and learn about the characters, but also a very effective sense of urgency that really drove the plot forward throughout. Also the information about the Fade and about the backstory for each character was revealed at a really good rate, enough to keep you in anticipation for the next reveal, not saturating the book with too many reveals, but also with enough frequency so the book doesn’t become slow or boring in any way.
This book is split between two main characters, Kat and Wesley, and they were both very interesting. Kat was a good character but wasn’t the most inventive, though it was definitely very interesting to follow a character who had very much been involved with social media and online communities. It is so common for online communities and friends to be completely disregarded as “not real friends” in books or even the real world, so it was great to see how important Kat’s online friends were to her and how much she felt she belonged in online communities when she didn’t necessarily feel that in her every day life. I also enjoyed the analysis for Kat’s relationship with her father, and was a very original take on the “you don’t know what you have until it is gone” trope.
Wesley was also a really great character, but I found that the most interesting part about him was his backstory and how that impacted his relationship with his family. He has a very tumultuous and complicated relationship with his family for a variety of reasons which are explained gradually throughout the book, but it was really great to see how this changed during the story. In addition to that, Wesley’s individual character development in this book was fantastic. He is really not the best person at the beginning of this story, but he learns a lot during the book and does start to make better decisions towards the end. It is also great that he did not get a full redemption. It is so easy in books, especially YA, for a bad character to do one or two good things and suddenly be forgiven for everything, which isn’t right! So it was really nice to see this changed, and for once he isn’t fully forgiven, it is noted that he is better, but that doesn’t rectify the bad decisions he has made previously and their impact.
The writing in this book was perfect as well. It wasn’t lyrical or metaphorical, but it somehow managed to encapsulate perfectly how it feels to be a teenager in the UK. I thought it was so descriptive and wonderful, and the tone of the writing throughout worked fantastically for the story it was trying to tell. I also enjoyed the double perspective, getting to experience the situation from both Kat and Wesley’s point of view really added a lot to this book.
I would definitely say that if you want a fascinating genre-bending story that really covers what it is like to be a teenager, especially with a little sci-fi twist, then this book will be perfect for you. It is perfect for the current generation of teens and young adults, and story I am really glad has been told.
– Maddie Browse