Book Review: Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Travis Coate’s head is now on someone else’s body. He was dying of cancer, so they removed it and cyrogenically froze it until the science caught up. Five years later it has, and now his head is attached to someone else’s body. Yep, it’s weird. And yep, it’s kind of fun.
A lot can happen in five years. His friends have graduated from high school. His girlfriend is now engaged to another man. And his parents seem a little bit different. But for Travis, it’s like he woke up the next day. Needless to say, fitting in again is hard.
This book is not at all what I expected, but it IS a richly emotional look at coming of age and coming into your own when you feel incredibly out of sync with the world around you (and with your own body). Basically, this teen novel is the perfect metaphor for teen life.
As a reader, I was so invested in Travis’ unusual story and his compelling voice. Loved the supporting cast of characters and the interesting twists that the re-emergence of someone they truly loved who hadn’t evolved with them into their lives. It’s kind of like meeting up with the high school friend at your 5 year reunion and realizing that while you went and grew up, they did not. I feel like if John Hughes were alive today this would be the perfect next movie project for him. And honestly, I would love to see this movie. (If you don’t know who John Hughes is, you should totally fix that right now and have a movie marathon.)
Great characters, great voice, nuanced and moving. Highly recommended. This second entry from Printz winner Whaley does not disappoint.
Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.
Now he’s alive again.
Simple as that.
The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.
Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.
Oh well, you only live twice.
Noggin by John Corey Whaley will be published on April 8, 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9781442458727. I received an eARC for review purposes.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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