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Literature / Truancy

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Wherever there is school, there will always be truancy.

Truancy is a trilogy of dystopian novels written by Isamu Fukui. Set in a totalitarian city ruled by its Mayor and Educators, who treat students and minors as second-class citizens, encourage bullying, and make sure that every student's life is a living hell in order to curtail any rebelliousness early in life. The first book follows a fifteen-year-old student named Tack, and a student rebellion calling itself the Truancy. The story is dedicated "to everyone that has ever suffered in the name of education".

Book one, Truancy, largely focuses on exploring the injustices and cruelty of the educational system, which sometimes even results in the deaths of innocent students at the hands of bullies. Fifteen-year-old Takkan (Tack for short) and his younger sister simply want to survive and do well until graduation, but behind the scenes a student rebellion run by a large group of Vagrants is quickly gaining momentum. Meanwhile, Tack meets a young Child Prodigy Umasi in an abandoned district and is mentored by him. After Tack's little sister Suzie is killed in the crossfire of one of Zyid's attacks on an educator, he swears revenge and joins the Truancy in order to achieve his goal.

Book two, Truancy: Origins follows the gifted paternal twins of Umasi and Zyid right before and during the formation of the Truancy. It tells of how they discovered the even deeper levels of conniving and manipulation educators were willing to enact in order to maintain their educational system, why Zyid and Umasi both went their separate ways and chose their respective means of fighting the system. New characters are introduced, and the origins and true nature of the city and its educational system are revealed.

The third and final book, Truancy City, has finally hit store shelves after a several-year long delay. It takes place a year after the end of book one and focuses on a new character introduced in Origins, Cross, Edward's protege, who's taken over the Student Militia after his mentor's death. Tack has he's taken over the Truancy's leadership after Zyid's death—and he's good at it too. He and the Truancy have managed to take most of the city from the educators, and have deemed their territory Truancy City. However, things become much more complicated when the military for the Government, those who were controlling the Mayor and the Educators to begin with decide to take matters into their own hands.

Tropes found in Truancy:

  • Abusive Parents: Rothenberg to his son, Cross. He punches Cross in the face when he doesn't come home to a prepared meal.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Suzie to Tack. He doesn't really mind, since she's the only family member human being he's sure he loves.
  • Author Appeal: The first book was written when the author was fifteen.
  • Author Avatar: Isamu Fukui states that he made Umasi's name mirror his because he was more like Zyid than Umasi.
  • Ax-Crazy: Rothenburg. Noni also lapses into this in book three.
  • Badass Pacifist: Umasi. Possibly the most skilled fighter in the series, but only actually fights once in the first book (not counting the Training from Hell).
  • Battle Couple: Tack and Noni.
  • Berserk Button: Don't you dare tell Zyid he doesn't care about human lives.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Mayor's family. On one hand we have the Mayor, who rules the city (and students) with an iron fist. On the other hand, one of his adopted sons is Zyid, the leader of the titular student rebellion. By the side is Zyid's twin Umasi, a Badass Pacifist in voluntary exile who wants nothing to do with either of them.
    • The trope really applies to Iris and her family. Zyid and Umasi are her illegitimate half-brothers, whom her father wanted to have separated and raised in poverty in order to ensure that they caused no political problems for him. Iris did her best to get them a good life by having the Mayor adopt them. She goes on to become a General for the Government, while Zyid heads the Truancy and Umasi declares neutrality in the whole thing.
    • There's also Cross' family. Rothenburg was abused by his parents and went on to believe that it was the right way to raise a child, as he climbed to the position of head enforcer despite the abuse. It doesn't occur to him that this doesn't work when Cross turns out weak and submissive before Edward finds him.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Noni towards Zyid at first. Too bad he's a self-proclaimed heartless bastard.
  • Book Dumb: Many students and Truancy members are probably this.
  • Cain and Abel: Zyid and Umasi. Ironically, Umasi (considered the 'good' twin for most of their lives) is the one who ends up letting Zyid die, although he does it reluctantly and with Zyid's blessing.
  • Children Are Innocent: Averted.
  • Cool Shades: Milady has Umasi wear a pair to limit his vision and improve his hearing.
  • Cool Sword: Incredibly strong ceramic to get past metal detectors.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Noni goes from loathing Tack for replacing her as Zyid's right hand to full-blown Belligerent Sexual Tension.
  • Dystopia: The Education City is not a great place to live.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: To cover up assassinations, the Educators announce fake diseases with names like RAS, Crazy Pig Disease and Bird Cold.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: The Mayor. He defies Iris to the bitter end during her attempts to get him to surrender, and when the Government soldiers come to drag him to Iris to force him to talk to her, he organizes his desk so a picture of his two adopted sons stand in the middle and drinks poisoned wine so that she can't get what she wants. Then he uses explosives he seized from the Truancy to blow up his office, which also deprives Iris of an important, easy to defend building to use as headquarters.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Umasi's name is constantly mispronounced by teachers, while Red complains that his parents "got real lazy... or drunk."
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Mayor really did love Zyid and Umasi.
    • Iris truly does care for Umasi and Zyid, her two half-brothers.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The City's system stack the odds in impossible favor of the adults over children, and it also lets bullies run rampant both amongst Educators and Enforcers, and Students alike. However, there are orphanages for children who suddenly wind up parentless and there are regulations in place to keep children out of abusive households as well. Educators also generally trust and treat exemplary Students well. It's also against the law for teachers to physically abuse their students.
  • Evil Twin: Ironically, the Truants think Umasi is Zyid's evil twin.
    Gabriel: They think something supernatural is going on, that there's an exact opposite of you floating around the City attacking Truants. Someone even suggested that it's your evil twin.
  • Faceā€“Heel Turn: Umasi joins Iris and becomes the new Mayor in book three, supporting her extreme reeducation system in the hopes that it will result in the fewest deaths.
  • Government Conspiracy: A lot of it in the first novel, but Isamu outdoes himself ten times over in the second novel, Truancy Origins where it's revealed that the rigid system of education and totalitarian government isn't just a way of crushing rebellion before it begins, but that the entire city is one giant government experiment, and that there are other cities out there like it, only testing different ways (AKA: styles of society and government) to "maintain order.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Government, who isolated the City to begin with in order to test out one potential means of controlling the people—through the harsh education system.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Umasi manages to avoid this after Milady leaves him, although at this point he's still too young and inexperienced to even understand if he really loves her.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Milady wields a chain with a weighted end.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Rothenburg really did believe that horribly abusing his son, Cross, was the right way to raise him.
    Rothenburg: You heard what they say about me. Well, it's all true. People these days don't understand that sometimes the only solution is to use force—beat them into proper shape or you end up with a useless lump. I was trying to make him strong, and the ignorant bastards condemned me for it. I can't say Cross was ever properly thankful either.
    The man really believed what he was saying, Iris realized. He had convinced himself that he was a perfect father, casting himself as a victim.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: When Noni is captured in book three, she's become a manic Blood Knight obsessed with eradicating the educators, so a doctor hired by them tries a new medical treatment on her to turn her into a model student. The process uses mind-altering drugs. It seems to have worked for a time, with Noni becoming a top student, but it turned out that it was all a farse. The drugs only returned her to her old self, so she pretended that they had done what they were intended to do until the right moment came.
  • Retirony: In Origins you find out that Tack's dad was a spy for the Government, and was very close to getting pulled out along with his family until the Mayor caught him. This is also Irony for the Mayor. If he'd ignored Tack's dad, then the Truancy wouldn't have gotten one of its most potent members and eventual second leader.
  • I Owe You My Life: Noni considers Zyid her saviour and would die for him. Which leads everyone to wonder how she'll react when she finds out Tack killed him.
  • Kick the Dog: Unless you're at the top of the pack, you'll often be lied to about your grades. In the first book it looked like teachers were allowed to give out false grades, but a scene in book two establishes that the government (and possibly the parents) know the real grades, but just don't tell their kids in order to keep them down. The only students who know the truth about how they're performing are the absolute best ones.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Zen and Umasi finding out that their adopted father is responsible for all their suffering.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Zyid and Umasi's real father. Their half-sister Iris may also count as this.
  • Meaningful Rename: Zen to Zyid, and Tack to Takan.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Avoided and later played straight with Milady. She survives her time mentoring Umasi in the prequel, and returns in Truancy City to mentor Cross, but gets shot and killed by his father in front of him during the final battle.
  • The Mole: Chris learns the hard way that selling out the Truancy is synonymous with suicide.
  • Moment Killer: Zyid walking in on Tack and Noni making out. To be fair, there was a huge battle about to go down.
  • Murder by Mistake: Zyid does this twice. The first time, he mistakes Red for an Enforcer and promptly discovers why you don't kill Umasi's friends. Two years later Suzie is blown up in a Truancy assassination, prompting Tack to join the Truancy and kill Zyid.
  • No Name Given: The albino girl, aka Milady.
  • Official Couple: Tack and Noni.
  • One-Letter Name: Zyid used to call himself Z.
  • Parental Abandonment: Milady was abandoned by her parents because the poor eyesight that came with her albinism made it impossible to keep up with the City's educational system.
  • Parental Favoritism: It's implied that the Mayor preferred Zen to Umasi.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "If you want to shoulder my burden... if you can do better at leadership... then come and take it from me!"
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: Zyid, leader of the Truancy, has only ever lost to Umasi (who turned down a leading position in the Truancy more than once) and Tack (who was going to be the next leader anyway.)
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Noni goes batshit insane over Zen's death in book three.
  • The Runaway: Zen takes off to begin the Truancy after he finds out the truth about the Mayor. Umasi follows him to try and stop him. He fails.
  • Scarf of Asskicking: Noni wears one to cover her scar.
  • Serious Business: Don't get us started.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The only reason Umasi agrees to fight Edward.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend:
    Zyid: Her name is Noni. You might call her my assistant.
    Umasi: I never thought you the type to show off for a girl. Will I be invited to the wedding?
    Zyid: Oh, now you're trying to make fun of me.
  • Shout-Out: Truancy: Origins is told through Umasi's perspective and shows how be came to be such a Badass Pacifist. He has several more than close encounters with Tack before actually meeting him on more than one occasion, causing a lot of readers to go Squee.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Noni has shades of this towards Zyid, although it was more noticeable in Truancy Origins.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Umasi wears them to enhance his hearing.
  • Sword Fight: The final battle between Tack and Zyid.
  • Take That!: This whole series is a massive Take That! towards schools.
  • Take Up My Sword: There's a large emphasis on this trope, and the importance of master-pupil relations. Tack and Edward are Umasi's pupils, and Cross is Edward's pupil. Cross takes over Edward's place after Umasi kills Edward. The Mayor goes to extreme lengths to track down one of Umasi's pupils to work against the Truancy, and gets Edward. Also, Tack winds up taking over the Truancy for Zyid after Zyid dies.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Milady, as revealed in Truancy City.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: How Tack beats Umasi during Umasi's test.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Noni and Milady respectively.
  • Vicious Cycle: Cross' family issues. It gets broken at the end of Truancy City.
  • Wall Bang Her: With Umasi and Milady, shortly after their reunion in Truancy City.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Zyid's motive for overthrowing the government is so that kids won't have to suffer anymore.
    • The Mayor wasn't just controlling the city and the Educational System: He was protecting it from the Government.
      • And Iris winds up doing the same thing. She needs to be able to restore peace to the City within three months, and decides that extreme reeducation camps are the only option. However, she agrees that they will be reeducation camps, not death camps.
  • Wham Episode: Truancy Origins. The whole of it. It's more like a Wham Flash Back though.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Partly why Milady left Umasi - in their inexperience, they decided they didn't love each other. Two years later, Tack goes to Umasi for relationship advice.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Rothenburg also had abusive parents, who killed themselves when he was just thirteen.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Nearly every adult.
  • Wrong Guy First: Noni eventually gets over her infatuation with Zyid and she and Tack get together... just before they head out on a life-or-death mission.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Zyid's plan to hand control of the Truancy over to Tack. If it works, then the Truancy is better off, and if it doesn't, then the information gained will make the second round a success.