Sebastian "Seb" Taylor is an unhappy, socially awkward teenager who is brilliant with computers but struggles in school. Madeline Story is a fellow outcast, a quiet girl with an abusive mother and a mysterious online friend. When the two befriend two girls named Kristie and Jen, their lives improve. The new computer teacher, Miss Adonia, tutors Seb and suggests to his parents that he has Asperger's, but she seems to have ulterior motives.
Haze contains examples of:
- And I'm the Queen of Sheba: Kristie tells Jen, "I'm giving up boys. I want to concentrate on school work and do good works for charity in my spare time." Jen replies, "Right, and I'm Mother Theresa."
- Cool Kid-and-Loser Friendship: At the start of the book, Seb's Only Friend is Guzzle, a popular football player. They've been friends since they were kids, before sports became really important and before Seb became a social outcast. They're still friends despite the difference in popularity because of Seb's loyalty and honesty.
- Disappeared Dad: Madeline's mother won't tell her who her father is. Madeline wonders if her mother hid her existence from him in order to further isolate her.
- Domestic Abuse: At night, Guzzle listens to his stepfather, Angus, beat his mum.
- First Kiss: At the end of the book, Madeline kisses Seb on the cheek. Seb considers it his first kiss and thinks that he wouldn't trade it for anything, even though it isn't up to the popular kids' standards.
- Forgettable Character: Madeline has worked for years to act in the most unmemorable way possible. Her efforts have paid off - she knows a great deal about the other students from quietly observing them, but they hardly ever pay attention to her.
- Gang of Bullies: Dan, Chalk, and Kaziah wait for Seb before school a few times a week to trip him, push him, and tear his clothes.
- Go to Your Room!: When Madeline's mother finds out she's been visiting Seb at his house, she punishes her by stripping her room, throwing out her clothes, furniture, computer, and everything else except a mattress, and then locking her in for three days. She feeds her bread and water and only lets her out to use the toilet twice a day.
- High-School Dance: At the beginning of the book, Guzzle talks Seb into going to the school dance with him. Seb regrets it as soon as he arrives. He puts up with the sensory onslaught long enough for one uncomfortable dance with Kristie before he leaves.
- Morning Routine: Seb has a strict routine that includes lying in bed for exactly four minutes after his alarm goes off. If his routine is off by even a minute, the whole day feels wrong.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Guzzle's real name is never mentioned.
- Punch a Wall: Seb punches things like cupboards and walls when he's really frustrated. There are three patched holes in his bedroom walls, and his parents had to tape "No Thumping Zone" across the crockery stand. His dad tried to get him to punch a punching bag or a mattress instead, but Seb needs to hit hard things.
- School Grade Hacking: Guzzle persuades Seb to hack into the school computer to change all his Fs to Cs so his parents won't find out how many classes he failed.
- Sensory Overload: Seb makes the mistake of going to a movie with Kristie and Jen. The soundtrack is too loud for him, especially with the lead actress's unpleasant laugh, and the smell of buttered popcorn makes it worse. Kristie takes his hand, but the invasive feeling is the last straw for Seb, who runs out of the theatre.
- Silent Treatment: Madeline tells her mother that she wants to go to a movie with a group that includes Seb. Her mother is furious at her for wanting to interact with a boy, blames the "slut" Kristie's influence, and punishes her by ignoring her for the next day. That evening, she sets a table for one, makes Madeline's favorite dinner, and eats it herself.
- Skipping School: Guzzle skips school when he's so tired from listening to Angus beat his mum that he can't concentrate.
- Stress Vomit: When Madeline's mother drives her home after learning she visited Seb, she leaves her in the locked car for several hours while she eats dinner by herself. Madeline doesn't get out because the punishment will be even worse if she disobeys. After her mother lets her out, Madeline vomits in the garden from fear.