Sunday, March 30, 2014


Whaley, J.C. (2014). Noggin. NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Young Adult Fiction / Speculative Fiction?
356 pages

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars -- So ORIGINAL!

Check out the trailer:

Is this not an AWESOME cover? And AWESOME premise? Accept the scientific premise - that human heads can be frozen for future reattachment to healthy bodies -- and everything works swimmingly and you'll love this book. I read it straight through in a day. The story feels amazingly like realistic fiction and not science fiction because author John Corey Whaley didn't spend time bogging down the readers with how the science worked.

Whaley did an excellent job of realistically conveying how those closest to Travis -- his best friend, girl friend, and parents --  must have felt and the variations in where they were in the grieving process. Some had let Travis go, some hadn't, but all of them suffered and grew and changed as a result of Travis's basically returning from the dead.

I found myself thinking that somehow Travis should have matured through this advanced scientific procedure -- but then there would be the reminder that he hadn't matured. He was sixteen before he died, and he's sixteen when he comes back, and he thinks, acts, and makes decisions like a sixteen-year-old boy. He has to come back to the same school, and even some of the same horrifying teachers, but all his friends are in college and have matured, where Travis feels like they were just hanging-out and clinging to him a few weeks earlier. There was hilarity and heartbreak and times when I just ached from his awkwardness and embarrassment.

Travis does have a moment of clarity when he realizes the impact his decision made on the people he loved, and that was very insightful. Whaley fleshed-out his characters very well and makes readers feel SOMETHING for each of them: sympathy, frustration, anger, and more.

I'd recommend for grades 9 and up.  There's mild language and violence, and some kissing and references to sex, but nothing is graphic or detailed.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Atheneum Books for Young Readers for providing this ARC digital review copy in exchange for a fair review. Book is set to release the first week of April, 2014.

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