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Literature / The Extraordinaries Series

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The Extraordinaries is a trilogy of superhero novels by T. J. Klune.

In a world in which people with superpowers, the Extraordinaries, exist, Nicholas Bell is proud to identify as the no. 1 Extraordinary-stan, as well as the most prolific fanfiction-writer in the Extraordinaries-fandom. After a chance encounter with his idol and crush Shadow Star, Nick resolves to become extraordinary himself.

The trilogy consists of:

  • The Extraordinaries (July 2020) After a chance encounter with his hero and biggest crush Shadow Star, Nick decides he must become an Extraordinary himself.
  • Flash Fire (July 2021) As more and more heroes arrive in Nova City, Nick and his friends must decide who is truly virtuous.
  • Heat Wave (July 2022) After an unexpected hero makes his explosive return to Nova City, Nick's life is turned upside-down.

Not to be confused with The Extraordinaries, a PbP of the same name.

Contains examples of:

     In General 
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Nicky for Nick.
    • Gibby for Lola Gibbson.
    • Jazz for Jasmine Kensington.
  • Attention Deficit... Oh, Shiny!: Nick is explicitly stated to have ADHD. He frequently takes medication meant to help him focus, can ramble about topics he's passionate about for minutes on end, before getting side-tracked and completely forgetting what he was talking about in the first place and has trouble in school, due to being unable to sit still or concentrate for long stretches of time.
  • Capepunk: The stories take place in a world where superheroes exist and have their own fandoms and nay-sayers. Not every superhero gets flashy powers, most of them ranging from mildly impressive to somewhat useless (for example being able to shoot ice-beams from your eyes), resulting in most Extraordinaries using their gifts for Mundane Utility, while actual capes like Shadow Star and Pyro Storm are the exception rather than the rule. The story also shines a light on how everyday citizens get caught in the crossfire and injured in big superhero scuffles and discusses what being a hero actually means.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Downplayed and justified. Nick's entire friend group is gay, lesbian or bisexual, which isn't too unusual. They all ended up outcasts because of their sexuality and found each other to be accepting of everyone's quirk and oddities. So of course they'd band together.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Simon Burke, the CEO of Burke Pharmaceuticals, is a ruthless business man willing to sacrifice and trample over anyone, if it gets him what he wants. So much so that he experimented on and then later imprisons his own son in order to create Extraordinaries. He also makes Aaron and the Extraordinary Division cooperate with his company under threat of withholding the pills meant to suppress Nick's telepathic powers.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Nick's mother died in a bank robbery, traumatizing both her husband and son for months after, to the point they barely interacted. It took Aaron Bell's boss forcefully putting Aaron on vacation for them to actually start to talk to each other again. Nick is also allowed to have access to his phone in school, as he still deals with panic attacks caused by the thought that his dad could be killed on duty without him knowing.
    • Seth's parents died in a train crash while he was still in kindergarten, leaving him to be raised by his aunt and uncle. He suffered from nightmares long after, not to mention his struggle with getting his newly awakened fire-powers under control.
    • Owen was experimented on by his father from a very young age, to make him into an Extraordinary-bodyguard. His father basically micro-managed his life after, holding Owen's dependency on the Extraordinary-pills over his head to keep him under control and going so far as forcing Owen to break up with Nick, as he viewed Owen's relationship with him as a possible risk to his plans.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Discussed. In the world of The Extraordinaries, most people who have superpowers don't really get anything too special or impressive, but they still find some use for their powers in day-to-day life. For example The Sheep Herder, who uses her powers of controlling entire flocks of sheep with her mind to help New Zealand's economy. Nick even notes that she's proud of her powers and doesn't seem resentful of other Extraordinaries in the slightest.
  • Mundane Utility: The Sheep Herder, an extraordinary in New Zealand, has the power to mind-control whole flocks of sheep. While this ability isn't all that useful for combat, Nick notes that it has done wonders for New Zealand's economy.
  • Self-Insert Fic: In-universe, Nick's fanfiction is this. His first Magnum Opus This Is Where We Scorch The Earth features a very obvious self-insert of himself getting into a romantic relationship with Shadow Star. Almost delves into Mary Sue Classic, as "Nate Belen" effortlessly attracts beautiful men, spins powerful prose on the top of a head that even impresses the villain Pyro Storm and is revealed to have been an Extraordinary all along. The follow-up fic on his new account, A Pleasure To Burn, continues the trend, featuring a detective/baker named Nash Bellin whom Pyro Storm comes to for help in a case, with the implication that Nash has saved the world once before already.
  • Shout-Out: The series plays in a world were both superheroes and popular superhero media exist, allowing it to reference and compare to several well-known heroes both in the Marvel and the DC universe, as well as Vertigo Comics. Both Superman and Batman are name-dropped frequently, along with the occasional X-Men.
  • Villainous Crush: Downplayed with Owen for Nick, who flirted with him but never hesitated to try and kill him. While Owen became interested in Nick solely to get to Seth, his superhero nemesis, there are moments, such as constantly flirting with him, seemingly asking about him while locked up, leaving a note for him when he breaks out of the psychiatric ward, and apologizing to him when trying to get him to remember that his mother died years prior that shows that he had a hint of affection for Nick. Plus, he saved Nick's life from his mind-controlled friends. That, and he thought about their relationship before dying.
     The Extraordinaries 
  • Are You Sure You Want to Do That?: After Nick's intention of becoming an extraordinary is revealed to his friends, all of them question whether he's actually thought it through, pointing out that not only is it completely unknown how extraordinaries get their powers in the first place, but also that leading the life of one might include heavy risks and dangers he hasn't even considered. Seth especially places emphasis on how the life of a superhero who is expected to solve everybody's problems and gets antagonized by random jerks who suddenly decide he's their nemesis sounds incredibly stressful. Not to mention lonely, as your identity has to be kept secret from family and friends to ensure their safety.
  • Armorpiercing Question:
    • Jazz at one point bluntly asks Owen why exactly he's friends with her and the rest of the group and where he even came from, as the only one of them he knew before muscling in was Jazz herself, and their only encounter that went beyond happening to spot each other at a charity function was him unsuccessfully hitting on her. Owen visibly struggles with coming up with an answer and quickly changes the topic.
    • Seth pokes holes in Nick's ideal vision of what being an Extraordinary means, by giving Nick a hypothetical Sadistic Choice between saving a bus filled with children about to fall off a bridge and people trapped in a burning building about to collapse. He then pointedly asks if Nick really know anything about Shadow Star beyond what he's seen on the news and the fantasies he makes up about him. Nick can't give a really satisfying answer to either.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension:
    • Deconstructed at several points. Owen and Nick have this, with Owen often casually ribbing Nick and generally acting as pleasant as an elephant in a porcelain shop. Their short-lived relationship seemed to consist of nothing but Nick finding Owen attractive and Owen using Nick for making out and annoying Seth. Nick himself admits several times that Owen is a dick, but that he can't bring himself to fully cut him off or deny how damn good he looks.
    • A fan by the nickname of PyroStarIsLife frequently comments that Pyro Storm and Shadow Star seem to be having this the way Nick writes them under Nick's fanfiction. Nick himself doesn't think so.
    • Nick suspects Owen and Seth might be having this, as he notes that their arguments seem to be based on something quite personal. He later on dismisses that idea, as even he notices that the tension between them is way too antagonistic to hint at romantic feelings on either front.
  • Big Damn Kiss:
    • Averted. Nick thinks Shadow Star is initiating one after he saves Nick and Gibby from a mugger and then suddenly leans towards Nick, but Shadow Star was actually just trying to get at one of the muggers who had recovered and was about to attack again. This leads to a horribly embarrassing moment for Nick, who ends up kissing the side of Shadow Star's helmet.
    • Played straight when Nick and Seth finally get together for real during the big battle with Owen and share a kiss on the McManus Bridge.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Shadow Star, Nova City's only and most popular Extraordinary-hero, is a gruff man who dresses all in black and has control over shadows, but has dedicated his life to protecting his city. Later on subverted, as Shadow Star, a.k.a Owen Burke, turns out to be a Fake Ultimate Hero who engineered most of his heroics and intentionally let Pyro Storm/Seth look like the villain so he could have the admiration of Nova City all to himself.
    • Played straight with Pyro Storm/Seth. While his costume and voice modulator make him sound and look intimidating and the city at large thinks of him as an out of control pyromaniac, he never wanted to hurt people. And his fights with Shadow Star turn out to be him trying to stop Shadow Star from hurting people for fame as opposed to Shadow Star stopping him from committing crimes.
  • Everyone Can See It: Everyone in the friend group is painfully aware that Seth is crushing hard on Nick, while Nick himself is so despairingly Oblivious to Love he misses the most obvious signs and dismisses his own growing feelings for Seth and jealousy when he thinks Seth has a boyfriend or girlfriend he's been hiding as just normal everyday emotions one feels for their best buddy.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity:
    • Played with for Shadow Star. While the authorities and the police see him as little more than a vigilante and a nuisance, the fact that he has an extra segment on action news dedicated to him and a big enough fandom that there's tons of merchandise with his face on it points to him being fairly popular with civilians.
    • Played straight with Pyro Storm, who isn't actually a villain and protected Nova City way before Shadow Star even showed up. Shadow Star deliberately set him up in order to cast himself as Nova City' protector and Pyro Storm as the villain it needed protection from.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Nick desperately wants to be extraordinary, as he believes it to be the only way he could enter a relationship with Shadow Star. Ironically, he staunchly averted this trope in his in-universe fanfiction that featured an obvious self-insert as the protagonist, to the point that when he rewrites the story to where said protagonist apparently always had powers and kept it a secret, his readers point this out and criticize how it goes completely against any of the previously established themes. Later on he admits to his friends that he thinks just being himself isn't enough for his dad, who in a prior argument had asked him why he was the way he was.
  • Loving a Shadow: Nick's massive crush on Shadow Star is portrayed and by some characters even remarked to be borderline obsessive, with Nick being convinced that they have some sort of connection and that Shadow Star is a Troubled, but Cute bad boy who is only waiting to be fixed by a guy like Nick. Considering who Shadow Star turns out to be, he's not all that wrong, but the fact remains that Nick made up an ideal version of someone he didn't really know in his head and based a really big decision in his life on the possibility that it could lead to a relationship with said man.
  • Obliviously Superpowered: After Nick's obsession with becoming an Extraordinary throughout the first book, The Stinger reveals he already was one, with his powers being suppressed by his ADHD drugs. He unconsciously saves himself with telekinesis while falling off a bridge in the climax but doesn't realize his abilities until the second book.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Almost every fight between Shadow Star and Pyro Storm is this, since the book is written from Nick's point of view and he's naturally never at the scene when the two confront each other. The most we get is witnessing what happened together with Nick over the news. Subverted when Nick coincidentally witnesses one of their scuffles and even meddles in it while being escorted home by Officer Rookie and in the climax, where Nick gets a front row seat to the fight between Pyro Storm/Seth and Shadow Star/Owen.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Ex-boyfriend, in this case, with Shadow Star/Owen, who previously dated Nick. Owen kidnapped Nick and tried to kill him and many others. Gibby even used this term word for word when describing Owen in the third book.
  • Secret-Keeper: Gibby and Seth's aunt and uncle all know that Seth is Pyro Storm and help him keep his identity a secret throughout the book. While Seth's aunt and uncle knew all along, Gibby only learns it about half-way through the plot, but nonetheless helps him with his cover-ups. When Nick's father gets into an accident caused by a fight between Pyro Storm and Shadow Star that Pyro Storm tried to prevent but is blamed for by Nick and the general public, she nearly outs Seth to Nick to clear Seth's name, but is interrupted by Officer Rookie at the last minute.
    • Secret Secret-Keeper: It's eventually revealed that Jazz figured all of this out by herself a long while ago and merely thought it was an unspoken agreement that the group never talked about it.
  • The Stinger: What kind of superhero-story would it be if there wasn't one? The epilogue is set from Aaron Bell's point of view, who is reviewing the video of Nick's miraculous survival on the McManus Bridge. Not only is it revealed that Nick is an Extraordinary, but that both of his parents knew and came to Simon Burke for a method to suppress his powers in order to keep him safe - Namely the Concentra-pills Nick has been taking for his ADHD throughout the book. Burke then calls Aaron and uses that knowledge, along with some security footage of Nick breaking into Burke Tower with Owen, to blackmail Aaron into making the new Extraordinary Division cooperate with Burke Pharmaceuticals to achieve his still unknown goals for Nova City.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Nick stays on the McManus Bridge to try and free Rebecca Firestone, even though she'd basically sold him and the city out only a few seconds ago, then saves her from falling to her death moments after when the spotlight from a news helicopter dissolves her shadow restraints. She doesn't even thank him and flees the scene the second she's out of danger. Later on she spitefully reveals his connection with Pyro Storm on action news and outs him as a Self-Insert Fic author, while describing his work as a "manifesto".