First, I just have to say the title of this book is awesome. I was a teenage freak, and I would have loved to have had an exit plan of any kind, especially an ability to teleport myself out of high school.
I need to make a little caveat here, and that is that young adult books are pretty far out of my wheelhouse. I mean, I didn’t even read them when I was a young adult. By then, I was already leafing through my parents’ collection of books to find the graphic sex scenes. I was reading Erica Jong, Ann Rice, Henry Miller and Philip Roth.
But ‘Nathan Burgoine is a friend of mine, and I absolutely loved the title and the concept for this book. Which is, essentially, that an extremely organized queer boy who is gathering all his resources in order to graduate high school discovers, by accident, a sudden ability to teleport when he goes through doors of any kind. This ability throws a wrench into Cole’s plans and forces him into a world of unexpected departures and arrivals, until he begins to figure out how to control his powers.
I loved Burgoine’s representation of the collection of friends surrounding Cole, Cole’s parents and his crush, Malik. This is a very inclusive book, featuring many characters that defy the heteronormative lifestyle, and a character with a disability as well. The embarrassing encounters between Cole and Malik were well done and put me right back into the world of desperate crushes and burgeoning high school romances.
The science fiction angle was great, and I was truly wondering where these sudden powers of Cole’s came from and how he was supposed to handle things until about two thirds into the book when things suddenly become more clear, and also more dangerous. The second half was exciting and expertly paced with a lot riding on Cole’s intelligence, bravery and ability to outthink his new rivals.
If you are a regular reader of young adult fiction, or, in fact, an actual young adult who is looking for something beyond the traditional, with positive queer characters, inclusive language and a really lovely heart, Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks is your book.