Selling books in the school market can be a bit of a pain considering the strict guidelines we have to follow. When a new book comes along someone has to read it to be aware of possible inappropriate content -- we're usually talking sexual innuendo and excessive swearing or violence. So I was handed HIDDEN TALENTS
by David Lubar from Tor Books. Tor, a respectable science-fiction publishing house, has been expanding their young adult line over the past adding some great books to their list -- HIDDEN TALENTS being one of them.
HIDDEN TALENTS is about a boy who is sent to a reform school and there, he meets a strange group of friends. It turns out these friends all have psychic abilities they're completely unaware of. That's the twist that makes this book great -- here you have a telepath who cheats on every test, not because he wants to but because his powers are like an involuntary reflex his brain automatically scans for the right answer. Something a little different...
Comics have something to learn from this book -- every kid dreams of the possibility of possessing extraordinary powers (this is what attracted us all to X-MEN, right?). But here we have essentially an X-Men-type book (psychic powers - check, school setting - check, angst - check) that taps into that desire to be superhuman without the irrelevant motifs of your traditional superhero comic. This generation of kids don't have the nostalgia for brightly coloured spandex and secret identities. More than ever, I think kids want to see themselves literally as these extraordinary characters and not look up to them on a pedestal. The successful hook here wavers on having characters that deal with the same concrete issues that every kid experiences in their lives with the same emotion and sincerity.