Monday, June 02, 2014

Book Review: Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Noggin Discussion
Title: Noggin
Author: John Corey Whaley
Hardcover, 342 pages
Published April 8th 2014
By Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Recommendation.  If you liked John Corey Whaley’s first book Where Things Come Back or like contemporary teen novels with a male as the narrator, then I would suggest trying out this book.  Though from the premises it may seem like a paranormal or sci-fi novel, due to the reanimation of a dead body, it is not.

Noggin begins about the same time as Travis Coates’s second life. No, Travis isn’t a vampire or a ghost he is an ordinary boy except that his body is not exactly his body.

The first time around Travis was dying of cancer.  Dr. Saranson approached Travis and his family to see if he could cryogenically freeze Travis’s head.  Travis agreed because he was tired of dying and was ready to just end his life in a peaceful way.  The doctors at Saranson’s facility told Travis there was a chance that he could have a second life in a hundred years or so.  The discovery of reanimation happened much quicker than anyone could have guessed, and that is how five years after Travis’s head was placed on a new body.

Travis’s lives now five years in the future (as he sees it), and life is very confusing.  His best friend, Kyle, and his girlfriend, Cate, are 21 years old and in college whereas Travis is still a high school sophomore.  Several days after Travis’s reanimation neither Kyle nor Cate have contacted him, and the worst part is…Cate’s engaged.  Travis has to figure out where he belongs in this new world.  He has to learn how to make school feel normal without Kyle and Cate, and how to react with the media calling him all sorts of crazy things: Frankenstein, the second coming of Christ, an abomination.

·      I love Travis’s parents.  They try so hard to make life normal and easy for him.  I think it is important that Whaley lets the readers see how much pain Mrs. Coates is still in. 
·      I like that the book uses a lot of flash backs, I also like books, movies, and TV shows are not chronicle.
·      Kyle is such a good friend to Travis. I like him a lot! He lets Travis know when he has crossed a line or is being childish, but isn’t mean.  Kyle always forgives Travis and puts Travis’s feelings first.  It was sometimes annoying for 21 year old Kyle to hang out with Travis.  It probably makes Kyle think of how hard times where right after Travis died, and he may even resent Travis for coming back and expecting things to be exactly the same as before, but Kyle is always there for the Coates. He is a good friend not only to Travis, but also to Cate.
·      Hatton is Travis’s new friend; he is Travis only friend in high school.  On the first day of Travis’s second time around in high school, Hatton calls Travis, “Noggin”.  This, obviously, is where the title of the book comes from.  I think it is funny that Hatton is upset that the name Noggin doesn’t catch on at school.  It never really chances on in the book either.  “Noggin” is mentioned in one or two chapters and never again.
·      I really like Kyle and Hatton’s friendship.  Sometimes it’s hard to mix friend groups, it can be awkward for everyone in the situation, but Kyle and Hatton seem to get along great with each other.
·      The very last chapter of this book was very, very good.  I didn’t cry until I got to it, and I cried out loud with great big crocodile tears.  I don’t want to spoil this part of the book for anyone, so I will leave it at that.
·      Travis’s being obsessed with getting Cate back got on my nerves.  Can’t he understand that she’s five years older than him, which would make it super creepy if she dated him.  I know it’s hard on Travis, but I feel like at some point he would get the picture.
·      I also think that Cate needed to be harsher with him, so that he would get the picture.  She needed to understand that in his mind that they had been dating a couple weeks ago.  Even though she had had time to get over their relationship, he hadn’t.  Cate needed to respect that and give Travis some space.

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