For me, though, it’s the little touches that really made this book for me. Maximum High principal Tobias Wilcox is fascinated by names, and gives a really great speech about etymology early on. (And sets up some neat naming conventions that pop up throughout the book.) I love that sort of Tom Fontana-esque, “I’m going to work my way around to my point in my own good time after I go on about something only vaguely related” patter. (Since the scene in question happens in a police interview room, I couldn’t avoid thinking about Homicide.) I also like the fact that Derek is actually pretty rotten – he’s not a good kid who got in over his head. It makes his early parade of humiliations easier to take (At Maximum High, you have to earn the right to shower. And Derek doesn’t.), and his growth into a hero (of sorts) has more weight when he starts out so badly. It’s why it’s important that Han Solo shoots first.