All The Lonely People

All The Lonely People

All The Lonely People
David Owen


ISBN 9780349003207

'I loved it . . . There's nothing out there like All The Lonely People - it's uniquely brilliant, bold and not afraid to shout about what's wrong with the world, while still showing how subtle changes and hope can save lives. Original, shocking, eye-opening and thoroughly enjoyable' Simon P Clark, author of Eren 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, Delete, 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. 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 from the online world, 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.

Librarian's Book choice


All The Lonely People4/5

All The Lonely People

David Owen


It is one of the biggest and most well-documented ironies of our time that the more we become connected online and through social media, the more our isolation, vulnerability and loneliness increase. This irony forms the core of All the Lonely People - a story about a teenage girl who literally fades away as a result of her loneliness and lack of online persona. It's a not-so-subtle but extremely powerful way of exploring how detached and isolated loneliness can make you feel, especially when you're at an age when being lonely is unacceptable.

Kat and Wesley could be every teenager in your school - both loners, slightly isolated and awkward in their own way. Kat finds her place online - confident, opinionated, funny, comfortable in her online community - until she becomes victim of an alt-right trolling campaign which leaves her feeling she has no other option but to hit escape and delete - and disappear. As her online persona disappears so she literally begins to fade away in real life. Without her online identity, who is she? As she disappears from real life, her tormentor, Wesley, part of a much nastier online crowd, realises he is the only person who remembers her. Overcome by guilt he tries to halt her disappearance.

Once faded, we eavesdrop the one-sided and painfully honest conversations Kat has with those in the real world. These insights and the friendship and support she finds in another faded girl, Safa, give Kat the confidence to be herself, both online and in the real world. Wesley meanwhile must overcome his own background and beliefs and pressure from his peers in order to save not just Kat but himself too.

The cutting between perspectives as Kat and Wesley tell their own side of the stories, cleverly increases the tension, shows how easy it is to get caught up in online worlds and makes the reader think. The characters are all annoyingly and infuriatingly human. While we can never forgive Wesley, we do come to understand his background and the effect it has on his motivations. The ending and the way the two sides of the story come together is positive, empowering and hopeful. The message is an important one for teenagers: find people you can be yourself with, be kind.

This is a timely and terrifying look at the toxic side of the internet and trolling, at how quickly men can be influenced by the actions and misogynistic attitudes of others online, at right wing hate groups, at cyberbullying and its lasting, unstoppable effects. This is no long diatribe about the evils of the internet though, the arguments are honest and balanced. The potential of social media to be a force for good, to bring about positive change and and to bring people together is cleverly explored.

This is an emotionally honest book which young people will identify with, will want to talk about and and which will definitely make them think. Adults working with teenagers will be angry, appalled and frustrated - but still need to read this! With the forthcoming changes to the PSHE curriculum and the focus on the negative impacts of social media on mental health, this is an essential addition to any school library collection to provoke discussion and develop empathy. Owen dares to say what other authors have - until now - only implied. A massively underrated author, this deserves to be his breakthrough book.

Lovers of Lonely People will also appreciate Alice Oseman's Radio Silence and Solitaire which tackle issues of identity and friendship through the mediums of podcasts and blogging with an authentically teenage voice. Non Pratt's Truth or Dare is a very clever and emotional dual narrative which also examines the positive and negatives of the internet, this time through youtube. Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl looks at the impact of fanfiction on identity, love and friendship, while Butter by Erin Lange is a very hard-hitting portrayal of how much body image is affected by social media.

320 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Eileen Armstrong, school librarian

Reviewed by: Eileen Armstrong