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Literature / Please Don't Tell My Parents I've Got Henchmen

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The Inscrutable Machine is back!

The sequel to the best-seller Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon, released on February 8th, 2016.

Following her return from Jupiter, Penny has decided that rather than convincing people that Bad Penny is a hero, she just needs to turn Penelope Akk into one. When she gets a challenge inviting her to a football game, she intervenes in a three way battle between some of her superpowered classmates, defusing the situation quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, her parents don't see it that way, and absolutely forbid her from fighting—whether she starts it or not.

Despite the frustration at having her superhero career curtailed so quickly, Penny obeys. But Cassie, one of the classmates she defeated at the game, has ingratiated herself into Penny's social circle and really wants to learn how to be a hero. After all, Penny does have a lair, and a club for the children of superheroes. And every good mad scientist needs henchmen...


This book provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Academy of Adventure: The Machine's school becomes one of these as more and more of the students reveal they have superpowers.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Penny's parents are this, giving her "The Talk" after she returns disheveled from a date. When she'd actually been in a battle with superheroes.
  • Atrocious Alias:
    • Charles still hasn't come up with a better name than "Sharky," despite promising he was working on it two books ago.
    • Weevil Man was originally mocked for his unimaginative and nonthreatening name, until he defeated every hero who came after him. Now he's called Surprisingly Dangerous Weevil Man.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Deconstructing this trope is Claudia's arc for the book. She may be the city's most powerful Flying Brick who can defeat even heavy hitters like Chimera in less than half a minute, but that doesn't mean she should force herself to do it, especially given that she doesn't really like to fight in the first place. Its nice of her to save people, but she shouldn't have to do it at the expense of everyday things like sleeping, school, or having a fun with her family. Especially obvious when Penny tells her to go superpowered fishing with her Dad rather than try and rescue Ray at the climax even though she admits to herself that Claudia could resolve the whole issue without breaking a sweat because Generic Girl shouldn't have to solve everyone's problems.
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  • Curbstomp Battle: More of a demonstration than a battle really, but Penny's mom defeats Cassie by standing still and flicking a pencil eraser in her eye.
  • Defeat Means Friendship:
    • Cassie latches onto Penny like a limpet after losing to her, especially when Penny promised that she can choose whether she wants to be a hero or a villain.
    • After Penny beats her for the third time, Marcia gains her own powers and joins Penny's superkids club. She becomes far nicer to everyone, including Penny, but she's also really creepy due to being a Blood Knight Combat Sadomasochist.
  • Discard and Draw: In this book, Penny's power keeps using the inventions she just made as parts for other inventions. For example, she makes a clock that allows her to control all other clocks in the vicinity, then cannibalizes that to make a device that grants control of nearby electronics.
  • Ditzy Secretary: In this book She Who Wots begins working as a secretary for Spider. Abigail's step-mother suggested it in order to help with Abigail's "militant schizophrenia." When Penny receives a letter from Spider, it's filled with random digressions by Abigail, mentioning how much fun dictation is and how Spider is glaring at her while she types.
  • Evil Is Petty: Penny speculates that the reason Charles reveals his powers at the football game is because he can't stand playing without them. While a lot of super kids would agree that hiding your powers is annoying, doing it to win a football game is just eyeroll-worthy.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Surprisingly Dangerous Weevil Man. He used to just be "Weevil Man." Guess why it was changed.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Penny builds a machine to create a horde of rampaging giant robots. It creates a horde of rampaging giant robots. Once the superpowered parents realize the Inscrutable Machine was behind it, they start making rumblings about the troubles caused by children, when Mechanical Aesthetic wryly notes that this is something that happens to literally every Mad Scientist ever.
      The particularly bulky hero in the heavy armor nudged the incognito super-mom with his elbow. "Remember Brainy's rampaging groomer?"
      She smirked despite herself. "At least it left its victims clean and fresh."
      Next to me, Dad muttered under his breath, "I can't be responsible for user error."
    • Penny's debut as a superheroine results in adults taking her seriously and thus forbidding her from doing anything similar until she's 18.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Penny builds a machine that lets her control clocks. It turns out to be more useful than you'd think.
  • Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: The Audit's least favorite statistic is "seventy-four percent of super humans with a certain combination of hair style and color have powers with a 'possession' mechanic." As she points out, this is completely meaningless; "possession mechanic" is ill-defined, the sample size is stupidly small (nineteen people), and correlation is not causation.
    The Audit: That statistic exemplifies everything wrong with how people misuse numbers.
  • Noble Demon: Bull was one of these even as a supervillain.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • As noted under Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!, Penny's mom praises her for doing the right thing even as she's punishing her for breaking the rules.
    • Played with later. When Penny reunites Bull and Claudia, her parents are suspicious of where she's been, but Penny can't say anything since it would be breaking the rules about getting personal. Just when it looks like Penny is going to be punished, her parents (and everyone else in the community) get a message from Foxxy Kitt, showing the reunion with Penny standing awkwardly to the side. They quickly forgive her for not telling them anything.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Penny Akk and Ray Viles become official boyfriend and girlfriend this book.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: After Penny's parents lay down the law regarding fights, Penny intervenes to save Teddy from Marcia. Her mother is proud that she decided to do what was right rather than what was easy, despite the personal cost.
    Penny: ...I'm still getting punished, aren't I?
    Penny's Mom: Of course. Otherwise the lesson would be meaningless.
  • Slice of Life: Compared to the previous books in the series, not much happens. It is more like a series of somewhat connected events that happen throughout the school year. Sure, there is a nice climactic battle at the end, but more focus is put on the date, the club, and even the new lab.
  • Starter Villain: Once again, Sharky gets curb-stomped so fast he's barely a footnote.
  • Suck E. Cheese's: Gerty Goat's Family Farm, which Penny loves because of how mediocre it is.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Penny has to make her hero debut without Ray and Claire, since it would be too obvious that they were the Inscrutable Machine if they all appeared together.


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