- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (April 8 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1442458720
- ISBN-13: 978-1442458727
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 3.3 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 422 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #336,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Noggin Hardcover – Apr 8 2014
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* "Travis Coates has lost his head—literally.... [A] wonderfully original, character-driven second novel. Whaley has written a tour de force of imagination and empathy, creating a boy for whom past, present, and future come together in an implied invitation to readers to wonder about the very nature of being. A sui generis novel of ideas, Noggin demands much of its readers, but it offers them equally rich rewards." (Booklist, November 2013, *STARRED REVIEW)
"The madcap story of a boy who loses his head and finds it again. . . . Readers will recognize the Printz winner’s trademark lovable characterizations. . . . They’ll also recognize the poignantly rendered reflections on life, love, death and everything in between. . . . Whaley’s signature cadence and mad storytelling skillz are worth every page. A satisfyingly oddball Frankenstein-like tale of connectivity." (Kirkus Reviews, February 2014)
* "Travis Coates has his head surgically removed and cryogenically frozen after he dies (of leukemia at age 16)...five years after his death, technological advances allow doctors to attach his head to a donor body that's taller and more muscular than the original.... Travis's comic determination to turn back the hands of time...is poignant and heartbreaking. His status in limbo will resonate with teens who feel the same frustration at being treated like kids and told to act like adults." (Publishers Weekly, January 2014, *STARRED REVIEW)
"Whaley’s sweet and raunchy first-person narrative provides a thought-provoking look at the notions of self-awareness, the nature of identity, and the angst of a very special teen. The lively, conversational style will engage teen readers in search of an unusual, but relatable, character. At times hilarious and heart-wrenching, Noggin, with its eye-catching cover art, belongs in all library collections serving young adults." (VOYA, February 2014)
"Readers will find it easy to become invested in Travis's second coming-of age—brimming with humor, pathos, and angst—and root for him to make peace with his new life." (Horn Book Magazine, March/April 2014)
"Travis Coates, 16, is dying of cancer, so he accepts an offer from a cryogenic group to have his head removed and frozen with the hope that it would be attached to another body in the future and he could be reanimated. Five years later, he "wakes up" with a new body and is still 16. . . . The premise of the story is interesting. . . . The author does a good job of describing the emotions and reactions of all of the characters." (School Library Journal, March 2014)
* "What is it like to be frozen, à la Ted Williams, never believing you'll really come back--and then you do? That's the preposterous premise of John Corey Whaley's novel, conveyed with realistic emotions that keep his narrator, Travis, grounded, and the story credible--and also highly entertaining--for readers. . . . Whaley makes his hero's implausible situation absolutely convincing. The questions lurking behind Travis's sometimes rash actions plague all teenagers. . . . Ultimately this insightful story explores the challenges of intimate relationships and managing expectations. Whaley asks teens to think about the life they want to make for themselves." (Shelf Awareness, April 2014, *STARRED REVIEW*)
"NOGGIN is an incredibly imaginative way to examine the universal feeling of longing to return to the way things use to be…. Far from predictable, NOGGIN contains a few twists to keep readers guessing, but the real heart of the book is the hang up on the past--the feeling that if you could just remind someone you loved how things used to be, old feelings would quickly return. It also focuses on larger issues, like how to deal with the weight of other's expectations, and how to get a friend to be true to themselves. NOGGIN is a novel about trying for a future very different from the one you planned, and learning to be ok with the change. Funny and relatable, fans of Whaley's first novel WHERE THINGS COME BACK won't be disappointed." (Teenreads.com, April 2014)
“The premise of John Corey Whaley’s young adult novel “Noggin” – outlandish as it is – has such wonderful resonance. . . . Whaley has a gift for detail. . . . He can be very funny. . . . And, like [John] Green, he can choke you up.” (New York Times Book Review, May 2014)
"A graceful combination of raw heartbreak and biting wit (including plenty of head puns) guides Travis through [his] existential search for life's meaning and survival. . . . While the novel's premise may be straight out of Hollywood, Travis' voice could not be any truer. Fans of John Green will welcome this smart tearjerker." (BookPage, April/May 2014, Top Pick)
About the Author
John Corey Whaley grew up in Louisiana. His debut novel, Where Things Come Back, was the 2012 winner of the Michael L. Printz and the William C. Morris Awards. You can learn more about him at JohnCoreyWhaley.com and follow him on Twitter: @Corey_Whaley.See all Product description
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Travis Coates was a gravely ill 16-year-old who was tired of dying, but he didn't want to keep living the way he was. He and his family agreed to participate in an experimental program in which his head (the only part of his body not riddled with the cancer that was killing him) was removed from his body and, when medical and technological advances made it possible, it would be attached to another donor's body. Deep down inside, everyone had a feeling this would never happen, but it was a good thing to imagine occurring years into the future.
One morning Travis woke up, his parents by his side, to find that his head had been reattached to another teenager's body (a better body, if anyone's counting). For Travis, it only seemed like a few hours had passed since he said goodbye to his family, his best friend, Kyle, and his girlfriend, Cate, but for everyone else, it was five years later. Five years in which so much had changed.
"I want to tell you a story about how you can suddenly wake up to find yourself living a life you were never supposed to live. It could happen to you, just like it happened to me, and you could try to get back the life you think you deserve to be living. Just like I did."
Travis has to return to his high school and repeat sophomore year. (While he should be 21, his body and his mind are still 16, and he didn't get enough credits while he was sick to become a junior.) Beyond everyone wanting to get a look at his really cool scar where they attached his head to the other boy's body, it's weird being there without Kyle and Cate, although he is able to make a new friend.
But as similar as that aspect of his life is, things are really different where Kyle and Cate are concerned, as their lives moved on, much differently than Travis would have expected. Travis can't seem to understand why they can't seem to pick things up where they left off, and runs the risk of alienating the people who matter the most to him. It's truly hard to reconcile his gratitude at being able to have another chance to live with his frustration that his life can't be the way he wants it to be.
Noggin is tremendously thought-provoking, because while the procedure that gave Travis a new lease on life is certainly difficult to grasp, it raises some interesting questions. If you thought a person you lost would come back to you, should you keep your life in a holding pattern until it was confirmed that it won't happen? What obligation do we have to those we leave behind? If this procedure existed, should it be used, or is it one step too far?
I really loved this book. I loved the fact that Travis wasn't any wiser than he was before he died, and if anything, he's more confused. I loved all of the characters and how they were flawed, just like real life. And I love the way Whaley tells a story, which is just one reason why his previous book, Where Things Come Back, was one of my favorite books of 2012.
If you can get past the procedure on which this book hinges, you'll really enjoy this, and it will move you if you've ever had to face the loss of someone you wish could still be with you. As Travis says, "It made me realize that no matter how often you see or talk to someone, no matter how much you know them or don't know them, you always fill up some space in their lives that can't ever be replaced the right way again once you leave it."
Noggin might be that way for me.
But it proves to be possible much sooner than anyone expects, and that creates more problems than if Travis had been reanimated 100 years in the future. When Travis awakes it seems to him that no time has passed. To the rest of the world, including his best friend, girlfriend, and parents, five long years of grief have gone by. Although Travis is still 16, his classmates are 21, and they've moved on in every way. No matter how hard he tries, Travis can't make the people he loves be the same as when he lived before.
A book with this premise could easily have been cartoonish and ridiculous. But Travis's poignant confusion and loneliness are realistically portrayed as he tries to recapture his former life. The other characters are equally sympathetic as they adjust to letting Travis back into their lives. This book is a quick read with humorous moments to keep it in balance.