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Literature / Hidden Talents

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This place may be hell, but at least it's our hell.
Martin, Hidden Talents

Hidden Talents and its Darker and Edgier sequel, True Talents, are novels written by David Lubar.

The first book follows the adventures of Martin, a smart-aleck sent to Edgeville Alternative School, a correctional facility. Here he meets the aptly nicknamed Torchie, a supposed pyromaniac; Cheater, an Asian and Nerdy boy sent to the school on accounts of cheating on tests; Flinch, a future comedian with hair-trigger reflexes that make him a disruptive influence in school; the introverted Lucky who was sent to Edgeview for kleptomania; and Trash, a loner artist and past vandal. They become close friends as they evade ruthless bully Bloodbath and attempt to stay out of trouble, with varying results on both fronts.


However, as Martin gets to know better this Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, he starts to notice that something's unusual about his friends: all five appear to have psychic abilities. Although they initially disbelieve him, even to the point of ostracizing him when he persists in his theory that they are not delinquents as the rest of the world presumes, Martin manages to make them accept their gifts.

After one escape from the school for an evening of gaming at the nearby arcade ends up with a fight against the mayor's son and his cronies, a broken arm for Flinch when Bloodbath cuts the escape ladder going up to Lucky's room, and a moved examination of Edgeview that could close the school thanks to the mayor's intervention, Martin and his friends mobilize to keep Bloodbath from sabotaging the examination, using their own hidden talents to keep the school alive - and discover a few true talents along the way.


Tropes present in Hidden Talents include:

  • Abusive Parents: Martin's dad, although he tends to lean toward verbal abuse and not physical.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Cheater. Lampshaded repeatedly in the second book.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Please don't laugh at Bloodbath, and don't call him by his first name, Lester.
    • Martin can find out what a person is most ashamed of/takes as the greatest insult. Before he realized this, he was using it unwittingly to make just about all of his teachers and other adults hate him.
  • Blessed with Suck: Lucky, because of how his powers work. He hears voices from lost items, and the longer he leaves them, the louder they call out to him.
  • Code Name: All of the boys except Martin have nicknames that conform to what they were sent to Edgeview for (and incidentally refer to their powers:
    • Eddie Thalmeyer is called Trash because he's telekinetic and accidentally "trashes" any room he's in.
    • Willis Dobbs is called Flinch because he's precognitive and therefore constantly jumpy.
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    • Dennis Woo is called Cheater because he's telepathic and is accidentally copying other kids' answers.
    • Phillip Grieg is called Torchie. He starts fires with his mind.
    • Dominic Calabrizi is called Lucky sarcastically because no one believes that he "finds" things that other people have recently lost and assume he stole them. His friends call him Lucky ironically, because he's really, really not.
  • Darker and Edgier: The second book. A lot of the humor in the first book is gone, and rather than dealing with a school bully, these teenagers are up against people who want to kidnap and experiment on them. Thinking about Trash's or Lucky's experiences in detail will lead to Nightmare Fuel.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Martin.
  • Dustbin School: Edgeville Alternative is widely known to be the last stop for students that no other school will take. It's also the last stop for a lot of lackluster teachers. Martin reconstructs the trope, saving the school from closure by talking about how it has some serious disciplinary and staff issues, but also has the potential to do a lot of good for students who are out of options.
  • Elemental Hair: The redheaded Torchie.
  • The Empath: Martin, of sorts; he can instantly detect the Berserk Buttons of any person he well as the best way to stroke their egos
  • Expelled from Every Other School: Edgeville Alternative is the Dustbin School for students (and teachers) that no other school will take. The protagonist Martin is transferred there at the beginning of the book after one too many verbal altercations with teachers, but comes to bond with other students who got booted out of the conventional school system due to their unrealized Psychic Powers.
  • Fartillery: A kid called "Hindenburg" blew open a closet door. Let it be known that said kid has no special abilities as far as we know and did this with sheer...well, there's no other way to put it, is there...fart power.
    • Well, he was trapped in there with Torchie, so there very well could be a reason for that explosion... but still, it takes a lot of, uh, "natural gas" to ignite like that.
  • Giftedly Bad: Torchie's love for music.
  • Implausible Deniability: Torchie's "I didn't do nothing"
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Martin, much?
  • Loners Are Freaks: Trash, at the beginning of the novel, was ostracized by everyone.
  • Meaningful Nickname: Everybody except Martin.
  • Mind over Matter: Trash, and it's awesome
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The school bully, Lester Bloodbath
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: After Flinch breaks his arm, Martin thinks he hears chickens clucking, then realizes that it's Flinch swearing.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Just about everyone. Martin is the main exception.
  • Playing with Fire: Torchie
  • Power Incontinence: All the main characters. Everyone except Lucky develops better control by the end of Book 1.
  • Psychic Powers
  • Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Cheater.
  • Sadist Teacher: Martin has a lot of these, although some are just plain weird. The principal also qualifies despite not being an actual teacher.
  • Side Kick: Lip, to Bloodbath.
  • Spider-Sense: Flinch, he uses it for dodgeball and, in True Talents, for (surprisingly enough) a job as a comedian.
  • The Team Normal: Martin, who sometimes feels left out because of this. He makes up for it by helping the others with their powers and eventually discovering his own, which he'd been unknowingly using throughout the whole story.
  • Telepathy: Cheater
  • With Catlike Tread: Martin, pretending to be asleep, sees Torchie trying to sneak back to bed "with all the grace of a moose on a floor of marbles."


Example of: