NOGGIN by John Corey Whaley


Age Range: 14 - 18
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The madcap story of a boy who loses his head and finds it again.

In the not-too-distant future, 16-year-old Travis Coates loses his head once—literally—after a deadly bout with cancer left him for dead. His head, cryogenically frozen as part of an experimental process to bring cancer victims back to life using donors, is the only thing that’s left of him until he wakes up with it attached to the body of Jeremy Pratt in the Saranson Center for Life Preservation five years later. From there on out, Travis’ life gets just as crazy as Whaley’s bizarre setup. Lots of changes have taken place in five years, and Travis soon finds himself losing his head again, in the figurative sense. He has to drag his best friend back out of the closet, discovers terrible secrets about his parents, and pursues his old girlfriend, who is now 21 and engaged to another, great guy, to readers’ cringe-inducing embarrassment on his behalf. Readers will recognize the Printz winner’s trademark lovable characterizations in Travis’ newfound BFF Hatton, who dubs him “Noggin” on his first day back at school. They’ll also recognize the poignantly rendered reflections on life, love, death and everything in between. Weird? Yes. Great? Not quite, but it’s pretty solid. It may be convoluted as hell, but Whaley’s signature cadence and mad storytelling skillz are worth every page.

A satisfyingly oddball Frankenstein-like tale of connectivity. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 8th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4424-5872-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2014


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