Review Blog

Dec 01 2014

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

cover image

Simon and Schuster, 2014. ISBN 9781471122897
(Age 14+) Highly recommended. John Corey Whaley is a Printz and Morris Award-winning author for his book When things come back and it is easy to see why when reading Noggin, a unique and challenging book. Before 16 year old Travis Coates died from leukaemia, he agreed to have his head frozen and reattached to another body at some future date when the technology was available. Five years later he wakes up with some other guy's body and everything around him has changed - his girlfriend is engaged to a 25 year old adult, his best friend is ignoring the fact that he told him he was gay, and his body just doesn't do what it used to do for him. Change is everywhere.
Whaley has taken a science fiction type scenario and explores the nature of change, of what it means to grow up and move away from friends. Travis wakes up with the same thoughts and memories that he had when he was 16, but everyone else has moved on five years. His old girlfriend Cate has overcome her grief and made a new, satisfying relationship and only wants to be friends. Travis is not prepared to accept this and does his utmost to win her back. Kyle his best friend is in denial about his sexual orientation, his father seems to be acting strangely and to top it all Travis can no longer win at the computer games he excelled in before. But - he can ride a skateboard like a whiz.
This is an exceptional book that packs a huge emotional impact. It is so easy to identify with Travis. Everyone has lost friends and partners because they have moved on, but it is worse for Travis, because he hasn't seen what was happening. He has arrived back into a life expecting that it won't have changed.
The interview with Whaley at the end of the book sheds further light on how the book came about and provides extra food for thought. A curriculum guide is also available. This would be an ideal class novel or literature circle novel.
Pat Pledger

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