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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 Edgeview 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:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Martin only learns about and gains control over his powers in the middle of the book's climax.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The disused drain that the group use to escape from school is big enough for them to walk through.
  • Aeroplane Arms: There's a background character called Flying Dan who runs around the room with his arms out like an aeroplane.
  • Alien Sky: The sky in Trash's drawing has two celestial bodies in it, though it's not clear whether they're suns, moons, planets or something else.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: When they first meet, Cheater calls out Martin for assuming that he knows karate because he's Chinese. However, he's later shown to enjoy pretending to karate-chop Flinch, complete with Funny Bruce Lee Noises.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Flying Dan can't sit still for longer than a minute and runs around with Aeroplane Arms.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: Torchie tells Martin "Honest, I didn't do nuthin'" with regards to the fire in his room. Martin thinks in response, "Yeah right, and I'm Abe Lincoln".
  • Apology Gift: Martin gifts Torchie a harmonica to apologise for insulting him.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: There's no way that Hindenburg could produce enough gas in a few minutes to cause an explosion that blows a door off of its hinges.
  • Artistic License – Statistics: Bloodbath cheats in the mind-reading experiment and gets 25/25 on four of his six tests. Mr Briggs tells him that his perfect scores made his cheating too obvious, and to make it less obvious he should have purposefully gotten some of the answers wrong. However, this makes no sense. If Bloodbath had gotten just a few answers wrong it would have still been clear that his scores were unnaturally high, and if he got enough guesses wrong for his results to be in line with the average there wouldn't be any point to his cheating. Bloodbath's real problem was that he couldn't cheat on the two tests where he wasn't being tested by one of his friends, so there was an obvious discrepancy in his results.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Principal Davis says to Martin "I assume you understand why you are here" and Martin rapid-fires stupid answers back at him.
    Martin: I got on the wrong bus? I won a contest? I wrote the winning essay? I'm the tenth caller? I got the highest score in Final Jeopardy?
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Flinch comes off this way, since his precognition distracts him from what's going on in the current moment. There's also a minor character called Flying Dan who can't sit still for more than a couple of minutes.
  • Bad Bedroom, Bad Life:
    • After falling out with Torchie, Martin notes that his side of the room still doesn't look like it's been lived in even after he's been at Edgeview for three weeks.
    • Trash's room is a complete mess, with chunks taken out of the walls, a boarded up window and a broken door. This ties in to how unhappy he is.
  • Blatant Lies: When Cheater is about to reveal what they all do on Friday nights to Martin, Lucky quickly cuts him off to say that they play checkers. Martin isn't convinced.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: After discovering that all his friends have powers, Martin just wants to be special and fantasises about what he'd do if he had powers. When he finally realises that he does have powers he just wants to be normal instead.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: The group all escape from school by climbing out of Lucky's window using a makeshift ladder. It's actually made out of rope and broom handles rather than bedsheets, but the function is the same.
  • Behavioral Conditioning: This is used twice by Principal Davis. First, Torchie is made to repeatedly light fires in the hope that he'll get bored of it. Then, Martin is made to make comments about people and given an electric shock if he says anything mean.
  • Berserk Button: 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.
  • Be Yourself: The "Why I Like Being Me" assignment has this as its intended message.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Lucky randomly shouts "Shut up! Just shut up!" in the middle of a history lesson. This isn't explained until much later: Lucky can hear the voices of lost objects, and these get louder and more intrusive if he doesn't pick them up. At that moment he's likely being overwhelmed by one of these voices.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: Some of the kids interrupt the meditation session in gym by making fart sounds.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Edgeview Alternative School is a boarding school that's a Dustbin School and a Sucky School at the same time, so it's bound to be this.
  • Bomb Disposal: Bloodbath and his gang hide time bombs all around the school in an attempt to ruin the inspection. It's up to the main group to dispose of all the bombs before they go off.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Martin falls out with his friendship group when they refuse to accept his explanation of their psychic powers. He makes up with them a few days afterwards.
  • Broken Aesop: In universe. Martin's dad tells him to ask questions, but if Martin does ask him a question he tells him to shut up.
  • Broken Record: Torchie says "I didn't do nuthin'" seven times in a row when he says his bedroom on fire.
  • Broken-Window Warning: When confronted by a mob of Edgies, Torchie, Cheater and Trash demonstrate their powers, culminating in Trash launching a stick through someone's window. This is enough to send the Edgies scurrying away.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Trash once threw a shoe at Bloodbath and got beaten up for his trouble. It's actually a subversion, as what nobody realises is that he didn't do it intentionally.
  • Cassandra Truth: While the main characters don't cause problems intentionally, most of them are still to blame in a way. This isn't the case with Lucky, though. Nobody believes that he just finds all the random objects he collects and the reason he's at Edgeview is because he's been kicked out of other schools for stealing. However, he really does just find things, as his power lets him locate lost objects.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Martin punches Bloodbath in the face and is surprised when he goes flying. He then realises that all the time that he's been training Flinch has strengthened his punches.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Flinch gives one after breaking his arm. It's hidden by a Narrative Profanity Filter, but it's still made clear exactly what word he's saying.
  • Coincidental Dodge: Flinch always happens to move away just as things are about to hit him. This is actually caused by his precognition allowing him to react to things prematurely.
  • Commonality Connection: Martin's group finally accepts Trash when they all realise that he has psychic powers like them.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The fact that all the people with psychic powers except one happen to be in the same friendship group.
  • Cope by Creating: Trash draws to cope with his isolation and his destructive powers.
  • Copycat Mockery: Martin tells off Flinch for pre-emptively saying "bless you", so Flinch does an impression of Trash apologising.
  • Corporal Punishment: A memo from Principal Davis says that physical punishment by striking with an open hand or a paddle is permitted. Davis takes this up a notch when he performs Electric Torture on Martin.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Martin floors Bloodbath with one punch when the two finally fight.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Mr Parsons says that Torchie's report is "almost intelligible", while Miss Nomad tells him that he has "a flair for spontaneous expression".
  • Delinquents: As a Dustbin School, Edgeview is full of them.
  • Dislikes the New Guy: Lucky is initially distant towards Martin. He warms up towards him after Martin proves himself by protecting Cheater from Bloodbath.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Lucky tells Cheater not to call Trash "wacko". Cheater replies that, his mistake, Trash is bonkers, loony and deranged.
  • Dodgeball Is Hell: Martin makes sure to put himself on the same dodgeball team as Bloodbath, who likes to aim for the head.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Trash is described as having "empty eyes" when Martin first meets him.
  • Dustbin School: Edgeview 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.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Edgeview is a Dustbin School for students with severe behavioural problems, so all of the students are dysfunctional in some way.
  • Earworm: Mr Parsons teaches his class some songs about fractions. Torchie says that there's one that he still can't get out of his head.
  • Eating Lunch Alone:
    • Trash is forced to eat all his meals alone because everyone sees him as a violent lunatic who throws things at random.
    • Martin is faced with the same thing when he falls out with his friends. He chooses to sit with Trash rather than be on his own.
  • Electric Torture: Principal Davis uses this on Martin as part of his Behavioral Conditioning. He shows him a series of images of people and makes him comment on each one. If he says something mean, he gets an electric shock.
  • Embarrassing Damp Sheets: Lucky still wets the bed despite being in eighth grade. He's not happy when Martin reveals this fact in front of everyone.
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • Several kids have one. Patrick Pardeau is known by his initials "Peepee" while Waylon Grestman is called Hindenburg due to him being a Gasshole. Trash also counts, his name refers to how he "trashes" things but it also alludes to what everyone thinks of him.
    • Martin is relived that the school has Hindenburg as its resident Gasshole because it means won't get stuck with the nickname "Fartin' Martin".
  • Emotional Powers: Martin's powers are tied to his emotions before he gains control of them. He constanty uses them to press his teachers' Berserk Buttons because they make him feel angry and frustrated, but he rarely this to people that he likes. He also uses his powers in reverse when trying to make up with Torchie, by unintentionally pushing his Kindness Button.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Each of the main characters has one:
    • Martin is introduces as giving lots of snarky narration and telling the bus driver to "have a heart attack", painting him as a Deadpan Snarker Jerkass.
    • In Torchie's first appearence he sets fire to his room and repeatedly claims "I didn't do nothing", but he also tries to make friends with Martin and shows him around the school. This establishes him as a Dumb Is Good Nice Guy with a fire problem.
    • When we first see Cheater he talks about how smart he is and comes up with a lot of random trivia facts, which shows him to be an Insufferable Genius who's desperate to prove his intelligence. However, he also delivers a magazine for Torchie and goes to save seats for his friends, establishing him as Torchie's friend and a good guy inside. He also struggles to understand Martin's sarcasm, which shows that for all his knowledge, there are some areas that he's not proficient in.
    • Lucky is first shown as being distant and mistrustful of Martin, with him trying to cover up a secret that he doesn't think that Martin should know yet. He also tells off Cheater for calling Trash "wacko" and argues against putting labels on people, showing that he's thoughtful and cares about other's feelings and also that he specifically dislikes calling people crazy.
    • Trash is seen to be unhappily Eating Lunch Alone, with Cheater calling him a variety of names. This establishes that he's a social outcast who just wants to have friends. He's also shown forcefully throwing down his plate, which demonstrates his (supposedly) violent behavior.
    • When we first see Flinch he's performing extremely well at dodgeball, showing his role as The Ace.
    • Bloodbath also has one of these moments. His first action is to intimidate Martin and punch him hard in the stomach, clearly showing that he's a Barbaric Bully.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Martin gets his first idea about his friends' powers when he watches Flinch play pinball and notices his abnormally fast reactions.
  • Face, Nod, Action: Torchie, Cheater and Trash do this when facing up to the Edgies. It helps that Cheater can read Torchie's mind and so knew what he was planning.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Mr Briggs looks at the results of the test for mind-reading, and concludes that nobody in the class is telepathic because nobody had an average significantly over 5. What he doesn't check is whether anyone scored significantly under 5.
  • Fartillery: Hindenburg blows open a closet door with his flatulence. He was trapped in there with Torchie, so there was a reason for the explosion... but still, it takes a lot of, uh, "natural gas" to ignite like that.
  • Farts on Fire: When Torchie is trapped in a cupboard with Hindenburg, he ignites Hindenburg's fart to blow open the cupboard door.
  • Finale Title Drop: The last line of the book has the words "the hidden talents - the gifts we haven't yet discovered".
  • Five-Aces Cheater: Cheater tries to prove that he can't read minds during the Zener cards test by deliberately trying to guess the wrong answer. He ends up scoring zero on all six tests. It would be extremely unlikely for him to get a score that low just by guessing randomly, so this ends up proving that actually is telepathic.
  • Food Fight: Trash causes one at Bloodbath's table by telekinetically launching a spoon of tapioca into his face. This distracts him long enough for Cheater to read his mind.
  • Foreshadowing: Lots of it, since the main characters constantly use their psychic powers throughout the book without even knowing it.
    • Most of Martin's interactions with his teachers involve him pressing Berserk Buttons he didn't even know they had. This hints at his his empath powers, which allow him to detect people's emotional vulnerabilities.
    • Similarly, Martin gifts Torchie a harmonica and it turns out that Torchie has always wanted one. The fact that Martin knew how to make him happy without being told is an early example of how he can reverse his powers to detect how to make people like him.
    • Lucky shouts "Shut up!" for no apparent reason in the middle of a lesson. Much later, he explains that he can hear lost items calling to him inside his head, and the voices get louder unless he picks them up. It's likely that in the lesson he began to hear a voice, but he couldn't just leave the lesson to pick up the object and so the voice got louder, until he couldn't tolerate it any more.
    • Lucky also dislikes calling people crazy and tells Cheater off for calling Trash "wacko". This is because Lucky is afraid of being called crazy himself for hearing voices in his head.
    • Mr Briggs conducts an experiment to test if anyone in his class is telepathic. Cheater says that Mr Briggs could get fired for doing this, as schools don't tend to like teachers bringing up controversial subjects. Later, it's revealed that Mr Briggs has actually been fired from multiple schools for not conforming.
  • For the Evulz: There is absolutely no reason for Bloodbath to cheat at the mind-reading experiment and all it does it make him look like an idiot. Martin suggests that he's so used to cheating that he does it automatically, without even considering whether or not it'll benefit him.
  • Freudian Slip: Martin tries to get Cheater to read his mind by thinking of the number eighty-five over and over again. Cheater doesn't guess this number right away, but when he points out the time he says "It's almost eighty-five" instead of "It's almost eight thirty-five".
  • Funny Bruce Lee Noises: When training Flinch, Cheater likes to shout "Hiyaaaa!" and throw karate chops at his face.
  • Gag Nose: Torchie describes Martin as looking like his cousin Walter, except he has a smaller nose. He then notes that pretty much everyone has a smaller nose than Walter's.
  • Giftedly Bad: Torchie's love for the harmonica.
  • Hand Signals: During the Face, Nod, Action moment, Cheater communicates the plan to Trash using gestures.
  • Hand Wave: Cheater's "Magnus Cranium" story has the superhero Magnus trapped by the evil Rottenman. How does Magnus escape? In a way that's much too complicated to describe, as it involves quantum mechanics and advanced particle physics. And also karate.
  • Hearing Voices:
    • Cheater mentions an insane guy in his town who heard voices that told him to kill people.
    • Lucky can hear the voices of lost objects in his head. He's afraid that people will think he's delusional because of this, so he never mentions it.
  • High-Pressure Emotion: Referenced, when Martin presses Principal Davis' Berserk Button he gets so angry that Martin thinks there should be steam coming out of his ears and nose.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Cheater suggests to Mr Briggs that they conduct an experiment to test for telepathy, in order to prove to Martin that he can't read minds. This experiment is what ends up proving that Cheater actually is telepathic.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Bloodbath's file says that he has wonderful leadership qualities, and the other students clearly admire him as they always notice when he enters a room. Bloodbath is actually a Barbaric Bully and the other kids take notice of him because they don't want to be the next person to be beaten up.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: Cheater lists off about ten different euphemisms for "crazy" just to annoy Lucky.
  • Idiotic Partner Confession: Cheater nearly tells Martin about the escape route, but Lucky quickly interrupts him.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: Cheater reassures Torchie in front of everyone that he won't tell anyone about his special hiding place.
  • Imagine Spot: Martin goes into one during the meditation session in gym, in which he uses a laser cannon to cut Bloodbath into convenient pieces for easy storage.
  • Implausible Deniability: Torchie's "I didn't do nothing" doesn’t fool anyone. He turns out to be right, in a way.
  • Insult Backfire: Torchie is told that his report was "almost intelligible". He takes it as a compliment.
  • Insult of Endearment: Every night, Martin used to tell his sister "Good night, you spoiled brat" and she'd respond "Good night, you creepy little twerp". She still does it while he's away at Edgeview.
  • Insult to Rocks: Martin insults Torchie by telling him that he'd have to gain IQ points just to be considered stupid.
  • Ironic Echo: When Lucky reveals that Martin also has a power, Martin protests that he doesn't have one. Lucky points out the irony of this, because that's exactly how all the others reacted when Martin tried to convince them of their powers.
  • Ironic Fear: Mr Langhorn has a fear of flying which prevents him from visiting all the countries he talks about in his geography lessons. Mentioning this is a Berserk Button for him.
  • Jerkass Realization: Martin has one when he comes to realise that he can psychically detect people's Berserk Buttons, and has inadvertently been pressing them all his life.
  • Joke and Receive: When Martin gives Torchie a harmonica, Torchie asks how Martin knew that he wanted one. Martin jokingly thinks to himself "Maybe I'm psychic". It turns out that Martin actually is psychic and that he unwittingly used his power to know that Torchie wanted the harmonica.
  • Kindness Button: Martin eventually discovers that he has the power to detect people's Kindness Buttons as well as their Berserk Buttons. He uses this to find out that one of the inspectors is proud of her eyes and wants kids, so her two buttons are complimenting her eyes and implying that she'd be a good mother.
  • Last-Second Word Swap:
    • Cheater is about to tell Martin that on Friday nights, they all sneak out of school but Lucky interrupts him to say that they play checkers.
    • Trash begins to apologise for launching a pillow across the room, but remembers that he's just been told to stop apologising so much and changes it to "oops" instead.
  • The Law of Power Proportionate to Effort: Trash's telekinesis is far more useful than Torchie's pyrokinesis, so it requires a lot more effort for him to use. Torchie is able to put out every fire in the school with no ill effects, while Trash is visibly exhausted and nearly passes out after using his powers too much. This rule doesn't apply so much to the other powers as they are automatic by nature.
  • Lethal Chef: The food that the school cooks serve up is horrible.
  • Life Isn't Fair: Martin's dad likes to tell him this.
  • Luminescent Blush: Lucky goes red when Martin reveals his bed-wetting in front of everyone.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Torchie describes how his granddad might have had psychic powers, since he would often pat Torchie on parts of his body that were recently injured (ex. If Torchie got a sunburn on his back, his granddad would par him on the back.) The book never makes certain whether it’s coincidence or his granddad is actually psychic.
    • Theoretically, it’s not made clear whether Lucky hearing objects calling out to him is him hallucinating voices while his actual power is merely finding lost objects.
  • Medicate the Medium: Lucky is afraid that people will think that him Hearing Voices is caused by insanity rather than his powers.
  • Mind over Manners: At first, Cheater is reluctant to intentionally read Bloodbath's mind because he sees it as similar to spying.
  • Mistaken for Thief: Lucky has been sent to Edgeview for stealing when really all he does is find things that people have lost. This comes to a head when he picks up Mr Briggs' wallet and is accused of stealing it.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Flinch uses his precognition for sports and arcade games as well as coming up with jokes.
    • Lucky uses his ability to locate objects to find money to use in the arcade and materials to build a rope ladder.
    • Trash uses his telekinesis to win a pinball tournament by nudging the ball to keep it in play.
    • Martin uses his powers to press Torchie's Kindness Button, allowing them to make up after falling out.
  • My God, You Are Serious: Martin tells Trash that his friends want to meet him. Trash initially thinks that Martin is playing some kind of joke on him, but Martin manages to convince him otherwise.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: Downplayed, Cheater becomes overwhelmed after reading the minds of the inspectors due to all the thoughts that adults have in their heads.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: After Flinch breaks his arm, Martin thinks he hears chickens clucking, then realizes that it's Flinch swearing.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: A group of local kids threaten to beat up the main group so they use their powers to scare them off. It turns out that one of these kids was the mayor's son and he told the mayor about the incident, which is what caused him to move up the deadline for the school's inspection.
  • Nose Nuggets: A kid called "Goober Gobble" is mentioned in passing.
  • Oblivious Mockery: When Cheater finally accepts his powers he worries that people will think he's insane, like one guy in his old town who heard voices and talked to himself. Martin reassures him that he's not crazy, since he doesn't hear voices or talk to himself. Unknown to them, Lucky does hear voices from the lost objects that call out to him, and he occasionally shouts back at them when they become too much. He's also afraid that if he tells anyone about this that they'll think he's crazy and lock him up. So, hearing Martin say that can't have been nice for him.
  • Oh, Crap!: The inspectors pick a random student off of a list to talk to. Principal Davis is horrified when they pick Martin, who has so far been an obnoxious Jerkass to all the authority figures in the school.
  • One-Gender School: Possibly, since no female pupils are ever mentioned, even in passing.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Just about everyone. Martin is the main exception.
  • Percussive Therapy: Martin takes out his anger against Bloodbath on his bag.
  • Power Misidentification: Torchie, Cheater and Trash destroy a branch to make them seem like the know how to fight. What actually happens is that Torchie weakens the branch by burning it, then Cheater jumps up and kicks it, with Trash lifting him higher into the air. Trash then hits a flying piece of the stick and telekinetically launches it into the air.
  • Power-Strain Blackout:
    • Subverted with Torchie when he tries to mentally douse all the fires in the school. Martin expects something dramatic to happen, like Torchie collapsing, but nothing does.
    • Downplayed later with Trash. He becomes exhausted and nearly passes out after over-using his powers against Bloodbath's gang, but he manages to stay conscious.
  • Preemptive Apology: Martin gets frustrated with Trash's constant apologising, so he tells Trash to make one apology at the start of every day to cover everything that will go wrong in the next 24 hours.
  • Pun-Based Title: Several of the chapters have these. For example, in "Milking the Moment" Martin tests out Flinch's powers by deliberately trying to spill milk on him.
  • Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything: In Cheater's "Magnus Cranium" story, Magnus escapes from Rottenman's trap by using quantum mechanics in a way that's too complicated to understand.
  • Ray Gun: Martin spends some time imagining what he'd do to Bloodbath and Mr Parsons if he had one.
  • Required Secondary Powers: It's unclear whether Torchie is fireproof or not. He never seems to get burnt by the fires he starts, not even when he does it directly under his hand. However, when training he's worried that he'll be burnt if they don't put out the fire quickly enough.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Reading the book with the knowledge that all the main characters have psychic powers allows you to see how they've been subconsciously using them all throughout the story.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Lucky asks Cheater how he'd like to be called crazy and Cheater says that he prefers the term "insane".
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Torchie writes that he has a "flare" for spontaneous expression.
  • Sadist Teacher: Martin has a lot of these, although some are just plain weird. The principal also qualifies despite not being an actual teacher.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Martin seems almost permanently stuck in this mode.
  • Save Our Students: This is Mr Briggs' motivation, but since the students in question are a bunch of delinquents he rarely succeeds.
  • School Forced Us Together: Martin gets to know all the main characters apart from Trash by being Torchie's roommate and joining his friendship group.
  • Scrapbook Story: Apart from the text, there are photos, letters, transcripts of phone calls, drawings, memos and essays to add flavour to the book.
  • Shoe Slap: Trash once (accidentally) threw a sneaker at Bloodbath and got beaten up for it.
  • Significant Sketch Book: Martin walks in on Trash drawing in his sketchbook, and this is one of the first things that shows that he's not the destructive lunatic that he first appears to be.
  • Sleeping Dummy: Torchie shows Martin how to make one of these before their trip into town.
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Being set in a Sucky School, it's pretty far towards the "Gritty" side.
  • Something Person: Rottenman, the supervillain in Cheater's "Magnus Cranium" story.
  • Stealth Pun: The first time Martin sneaks out of school, he has to do it in complete darkness because Torchie didn't bring a flashlight. This means that Torchie forgot the torch.
  • Stuffed into a Locker: Like a typical Bully, Bloodbath is seen shoving a kid into a locker before gym.
  • Sucky School: Edgeview Alternative School is underfunded and full of broken second-hand furniture and equipment. Most of the students are Delinquents and run amok, and the whole school is terrorised by Bloodbath and his gang. It's got a few Sadist Teachers and when punishment is handed out it isn't just writing a few lines.
  • Supering in Your Sleep: Martin wakes up to find that Torchie has set his student handbook on fire, presumably while he was sleeping.
  • Super Intelligence: Cheater creates a superhero character called Magnus Cranium, and his superpower is his amazing brain.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Lucky's "I didn't steal it" comes off as this, but he's actually telling the truth.
  • Swiss-Army Superpower: Trash's telekinesis. He's used it to unlock a door, give Cheater a jump boost, cheat at pinball and cause a food fight, and that's with him only gaining control of it in the last third of the book.
  • Tattoo Sharpie: Bloodbath gets into trouble for writing his name on a kid's face in permanent marker, and threatens to do the same to Martin.
  • There Are No Therapists: No attempt is ever made to treat the supposed psychiatric problems of the main characters apart from Principal Davis' highly questionable Behavioral Conditioning.
  • They Would Cut You Up: This is discussed as a possibility by the main characters, and so they swear to keep their powers secret.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Torchie's powers aren't particularly useful in most situations, but they turn out to be perfect for stopping Bloodbath's candle-powered time bombs.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: In the middle of a history lesson Lucky seemingly glares at Martin, but Martin notices that Lucky's eyes aren't focused and that he seems to be staring right through him.
  • Throw the Book at Them: Trash accidentally launches a book at Martin when the two first meet.
  • Time Bomb: Bloodbath's gang set up time bombs by attaching firecrackers to lit candles, so that when the candles burn down enough the firecrackers will go off.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Martin would get into a lot less trouble if he had the self-control to keep all his hurtful comments to himself. It's implied that this is actually part of his Power Incontinence.
  • Umpteenth Customer: When Principal Davis asks Martin why he's at Edgeview, one of Martin's snarky responses is "I'm the tenth caller?"
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Nobody seems at all perturbed by Lucky randomly shouting "Shut up!" in the middle of a lesson. Similarly, nobody seems to notice at all when Martin leaps out of his seat and yells "Telekinesis!" in a crowded lunchroom.
  • Wedgie: Trash accidentally gives Cheater one when his telekinesis misfires.
  • We Need a Distraction: The group need to distract Bloodbath so Cheater can sneak up and read his mind without being spotted. To achieve this, Trash launches some trays in the air and then throws a spoon at Bloodbath to start a Food Fight.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: The head inspector is proud of her eyes and complimenting them is one of her Kindness Buttons.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Martin mentally tells himself off for abandoning Trash to go and sit with his friends and calls himself "Martin the Rat".
  • 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."


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