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Literature / True Talents

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True Talents is the 2007 sequel to David Lubar's 1998 YA novel, Hidden Talents.

A year and a half after the events of the first book, Eddie "Trash" Thalmeyer wakes up from a drugged stupor in a cell, having lost his memories of the past six months. After escaping, he finds himself lost in Philadelphia, and learns that the people who abducted him to study his telekinetic abilities also faked his death. Now he must find his friends, find a way home, and find a way to stop the man chasing him from bringing all of the Psychic Six under his thumb.

Tropes present in True Talents include:

  • Applied Phlebotinum: Bowdler uses a device called a "disruptor" to block Trash's powers. Later on, he realizes that Lucky can use the disruptor to permanently silence the voices in his head.
  • Contrasting Sequel Protagonist: Trash’s prose is more analytical and less witty than Martin’s, fitting the tone of the story.
  • Contrived Coincidence: All of the boys are drawn to Philadelphia, for various different reasons, and all of them find each other remarkably easily for a city of its size. This is remarked upon when Flinch is sure that Torchie will be in Philly because Trash, Cheater and Martin already are. Interestingly, this could be justified by the fact that each one experiences a “voice” telling them to go there.
  • Darker and Edgier: Much, much so. Hidden Talents dealt with school bullying and learning how to live with bad teachers, and the boys' biggest problem was figuring out how to prevent Bloodbath from intentionally getting Edgeview shut down. Now Trash has been kidnapped, Lucky's been institutionalized, and Martin's home life has deteriorated to the point that he runs away.
  • The Determinator: Bowdler. He resorts to kidnapping and murder to get Trash back, and threatens his entire family.
  • Faking the Dead: Bowdler does this to Trash, making it look like he died after crashing a stolen car. Since he'd had a history of vandalism already, the police don't investigate any further. His parents don't want to believe it, but still accept that it would be in-character of the person they thought their son was.
    • The man Trash thought he'd killed when Bowdler first attacked him, Thurston does this twice. Turns out he's got a hidden talent too. He can heal from almost anything.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Martin reads Bowdler’s soul and realizes that the guy with a bunch of smiley faces on his tie has actually taken part in a series of assasinations and other horrendous acts. Ironically, Bowdler warns Martin to steer clear of dangerous people.
  • Healing Factor: Thurston's a tough old coot. Not many people could survive having all of their ribs snapped and sent through their lungs and heart, or survive two bullets to the chest and still have time to kill their killer.
  • Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: Trash has been kidnapped and his parents are none the wiser, since they’re under the assumption that he died in a car accident. Not to mention, the man who did it is trying to do the same to five other boys.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Martin uses his skills as The Empath to get a ride from strangers, and tries to use them to impress Cheater's cousin Livvy. It doesn't work, but she gives him her number anyway.
    • Trash, meanwhile, uses his telekinesis to make Martin look clumsy by constantly tripping him and making him drop food in his lap.
    • Cheater lives up to his namesake and attempts to cheat at poker. As in Hidden Talents, he's pretty terrible at it.
    • Deconstructed with Flinch; He can’t really turn off his powers, and is forced to accommodate them to whatever hobby he does. This basically makes him feel bored about various sports since it makes them too easy to be fun. This is reconstructed when Flinch applies his precognitive abilities to stand-up comedy; by anticipating hecklers before they start, he has more time to come up with witty retorts, and he feels genuine happiness.
  • Playing with Syringes: What happened to Trash while held captive.
  • The Runaway: Martin basically runs away from home after an argument with his dad, and hitched a ride with two strangers, eventually ending up in Philadelphia. And his parents are either too cruel (his dad) or too cowed (his mom) to go look for him. He’s also fifteen years old.
  • True Companions: All of the boys, who rally to save first Trash, then Lucky.