Elephant of Surprise by Brent Hartinger
"People aren't always what they seem to be. Sometimes we even surprise ourselves.
So discovers seventeen-year-old Russel Middlebrook in The Elephant of Surprise, a stand-alone sequel to Brent Hartinger's landmark 2003 gay young adult novel Geography Club.
In this latest book, Russel and his friends Min and Gunnar are laughing about something they call the Elephant of Surprise – the tendency for life to never turn out as expected. Sure enough, Russel soon happens upon a hot but mysterious homeless activist named Wade, even as he's drawn back to an old flame named Kevin. Meanwhile, Min is learning surprising things about her girlfriend Leah, and Gunnar just wants to be left alone to pursue his latest technology obsession.
But the elephant is definitely on the move in all three of their lives. Just who is Wade and what are he and his friends planning? What is Leah hiding? And why is Gunnar taking naked pictures of Kevin in the shower?"- summary from Amazon
Geography Club was one of the first GLBT YA books I ever read and I absolutely adored it, making Hartinger one of my favorite authors. I loved the two sequels that followed and was excited to read this newest installment after 6 years since the last one. I wasn't as impressed with this book. I liked returning to these characters and seeing what new things they're going through, but I just didn't feel that connection I did with the first three (and most especially, the first book).
I liked the freegan aspect that Hartinger incorporated in the new character of Wade, and learning about that whole movement made for an interesting plot thread. But it became a little out of control toward the end with what he and his friends are planning and unbelievable, for me at least. I personally preferred reading about the emotional arc between Russel and Wade, which brought in something I don't usually see in YA books. I don't want to give anything away though.
Overall, if you've been reading the series, this book is worth picking up to catch up with your favorite characters. If you haven't and are looking for a good, quick GLBT read, this is worth it, but I'd also suggest starting from the beginning. It's not necessary, as Hartinger does provide backstory as needed, but I think it would definitely make it easier and more fun. All of them are currently available as e-books.
FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.