RELEASED: January 10, 2019
GENRE: YA Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Magical Realism
GOODREADS RATING: 4.28
TRIGGERS: Bullying, cyber-bullying, misogyny, toxic masculinity
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 realizes 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.
I was curious about this book the moment I had read the synopsis. The idea of someone disappearing once their online personality has been erased is very intriguing, especially since so many of us have an enormous social life online. Even I have to admit that most of my social activities occur in the bookish community, rather than in real life. So, of course, the concept of this book sounded very interesting. But how did it turn out?
The thing that made me want to read All the Lonely People is automatically also the thing that made sure I kept on reading. At the start of the story, you immediately see how Kat’s cyber-bullied into deleting all her online accounts and starts fading. The idea that your being can be that linked to an online presence is.. baffling but I guess in some ways also very true for a lot of us.
If the fade was an opportunity to be somebody else, anybody else, it would allow her to be who she had never been: herself.
One of the more important aspects of this story, to me, is the presence of both queer and POC rep. This story doesn’t really focus on romance, but there is a F/F-slow burn romance presence that I adored.
To Kat, her online personality is her real personality, the place she can be herself. Losing that equals slowly losing her physical presence in the actual world. The way this is done by the author is truly amazing. There’s slow progress in her fading away. Her disappearing automatically having an influence over her behavior, her realizations and thought-process. It shows how the thing you think you want, isn’t necessarily what you actually want and need. An important lesson to learn these days.
Of course, Kat isn’t the only character. There are two other characters definitely worth mentioning. Wesley – our second POV – is the one pushing Kat into fading. Although he immediately feels guilty about it and tries his best to help her, it’s purely self-centered reasons driving him. This does make him an interesting character to follow and read about.
Then we have Safa – a second fading person. The big difference with Kat is that she actually wants to fade and has been trying to fade away for a while now. Since she and Kat are the only ones who can see one another, they stick together. Seeing that relationship / friendship grow was fun for sure.
As soon as anything kicks off the good people go quiet so they won’t become targets too, while all the trolls are trying to one-up each other by getting nastier and nastier.
But that doesn’t mean it was all fun. First off, I felt like I got thrown into the story too abruptly. I’d love to have seen more of Kat’s original, online personality before it got erased. If only to have a better idea what she’s like in real life compared to online. We don’t see that and it immediately gave me the feeling she could’ve been more fleshed out if that had happened.
Everybody needs something to live for.
I also didn’t really see.. the point of the side-plot? If you can even call it that. It’s what spurs the story on, but on the other hand it did feel unnecessary at times at well. Like it wasn’t really needed. Although it has to be said that, adding it, allowed the author to tackle themes like misogyny and toxic masculinity. Nevertheless, I didn’t really feel like it added a whole lot to Kat’s story. That could definitely be just me though.
There’s also this one part where it’s pretty much stated Kat’s online life wasn’t real. To me, that did feel entirely wrong. It isn’t because things are online, friendships are online that they aren’t real. They are. That one quote rubbed me the wrong way and I can’t seem to forget about it..
I had some issues with it and I have to admit I didn’t really care about the story as much as I wanted to, which made for a mediocre read. There are definitely pluses to All the Lonely People, but the entirety of the novel simply didn’t blow me away like I expected it to.
Have you come across books where certain sub-plots felt unnecessary?
Are you intrigued by the concept of this novel? Is it something you would read?