Noggin by John Corey Whaley

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Noggin by John Corey Whaley

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Travis comes back after being cryogenically frozen as a terminal cancer patient. Same head. New body. If that weren't enough to get used to, it's been five minutes for Travis but five years for everyone else. Simultaneously heartwrenching and heartwarming, this is a fabulous book with a huge heart.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1471122891

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Listen. I was alive once and then I wasn't. Simple as that. Now I'm alive again. The in-between part is still a little fuzzy, but I can tell you that, at some point or another, my head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado.

Erk! That's how Noggin begins and I defy you not to want to read on. Travis Coates was terminally ill. In a last ditch Hail Mary, he consented to cryogenic preservation. And now, he's back, his head grafted onto a donor body. Of all the original volunteers, Travis is one of only two patients successfully brought back to life. It's a cause for celebration, right?

Well, yes and no. Travis's parents are overjoyed. So is the rest of his family. Travis himself is inordinately glad not to be dying any more. But where is best friend Kyle? And girlfriend Cate? Why aren't they around to welcome him back? And missing friens and girlfriends aren't the only problem. Travis is still sixteen but he has "woken up" five years down the line. Things look the same, but they just aren't the same. And the new Travis and the old Travis have to find a way to cope with that...

Honestly, truly - would I lie to you? - I loved this story, with its utterly silly premise and its utterly serious heart. It's just gorgeous. It might be a silly premise but it isn't a silly theme. What would happen if you closed your eyes for a moment and the world moved on by five years? You don't think it would make that much of a difference when you first think about it but it doesn't take long to realise that actually everything would have changed and you would be utterly isolated. Then imagine that everyone you know has spent those five years grieving your loss. Now, their grief has suddenly been suspended, reversed even. It's not going to be easy for your loved ones either, is it? There are a great many complicated emotions and relationships for Travis to resolve and you can't help but love him as he does it with a dollop of humour and a great deal of pain. And everyone's issues are laid bare in Noggin - not just Travis's.

The supporting cast of characters is great - including Kyle, the closeted best friend and Cate, the girlfriend who has moved on, and I was particularly entertained by new friend Hatton, a real proponent of foot in mouth syndrome. But it's Travis who carries the show. He's bright, honest, self-deprecating and courageous. And he is also the most romantic male central character I've come across in a while. Travis is in love and he'll do anything for love. And you can't help but root for him.

Simultaneously heartwrenching and heartwarming, Noggin is a fabulous book with a huge heart. I can't recommend it highly enough.

If you like the look of Noggin - and you're bonkers if you don't! - then you'll also enjoy Henry Tumour by Anthony McGowan in which Henry is hapless Hector's talking brain tumour.

Buy Noggin by John Corey Whaley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Noggin by John Corey Whaley at

Buy Noggin by John Corey Whaley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Noggin by John Corey Whaley at Booklists.jpg Noggin by John Corey Whaley is in the Top Ten Teen Books of 2014.


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