Apr 7, 2014

Review: Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Noggin by John Corey Whaley
April 8th, 2014 from Atheneum Books for Young Readers

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.

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You can find Whaley at his website

If I had got to blurb this book I'd say This book is head's above the rest  or Travis Coates, the head and the heart of an unusual love story. I should be a professional blurber, no? I didn't think so either. So Travis comes back bigger (literally) and better than ever after he ditches his cancer ridden body for a solid 16-year-old beefcake. It's been five years and everyone has moved on with their life and the poor kid has to go to high school sans his best friend and girlfriend. Even though his ashes are in the downstairs closet and he has a wicked scar on his neck that everyone just can't stop photographing, his relationship with with best friend and girlfriend is where the story gets so interesting. Travis has to renavigate and renegotiate his relationship with Kyle and Cate. Yeah, they're both happy he's back and healthy, but Travis wants everything to go back to the way things were before the body switch. Telling secrets, kissing, the whole shebang. As we know, it's just not that simple.

I really enjoyed the balance between Travis's new life and old. Travis meets an outlier, a weirdo named Hatton, during his second round of high school. His no-holds-bar honesty provided comedic relief and he was hands down my favorite character. Although Travis pulled on the heart strings, I feel more for poor Cate the girlfriend. Rather, ex-girlfriend. That girl goes through a roller coaster of emotions and she is so patient with Travis. Travis wants nothing more to pick up where they left off, but Cate has moved on. I just couldn't imagine going through what Cate went through. She's basically a saint. The surprising twist with Travis's family was almost too much to bear.

This story is bound to spark some serious conversations. How would you live your life if you got a second chance? Would you, could you put your life on hold for someone for five years? So many things to think about. Ignore the science and the, for now, maybe sort of impossibilities of a kid getting his head sewn on another body and having zero complications. Just roll with it....it's a fantastic ride!