Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Noggin is another novel that I requested from the library before it was released. And once I received my copy, it took me about a month to read it because I had several books in my reading queue that I needed to read first. Now that I have read it, I want to read author John Corey Whaley’s first novel, Where Things Come Back.

Cryogenics has been a fascinating subject for me. I think I recall it being a topic in Matt Groening comics, and I also remember growing up in suburban Los Angeles and hearing rumors that Walt Disney was cryogenically frozen- under the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, no less.

So, I approached Noggin with great interest. The story involves a young man named Travis who reawakens five years after his death. He was saved because he and his parents chose to have his healthy head removed from his cancer-ravaged body and frozen. Medical advancements have come much quicker than expected, and the technology needed to ensure that the surgery can take place is a success arrives five years later.

Travis is essentially the same as he was, except he now has a new body, provided by a donor- a boy who had brain cancer. It is a perfect match, and this gives Travis a second chance at life.

But things are not as simple as they might appear to be. Travis is in an arrested state of development. Five years have passed- his best friend Kyle is almost done with college, and his girlfriend Cate is engaged to someone else.

Travis finds himself back in high school. Because he missed so much school when he was sick, he is back in sophomore year. He makes a new friend, a boy named Hatton, and he tries to make sense of his new life.

Noggin was a wonderful book. It is poignant: Travis tries to rekindle his relationships from his old life, but of course, things aren’t the same. His friends have grown up, developed new relationships, and they aren’t’ the same people that they were when Travis died. They couldn’t imagine that he would actually come back at all, especially not so soon. Travis experiences something similar with his parents. They aren’t sure what to do with him, but they are overjoyed to have their boy back.

But this isn’t a sad book. There are very sad moments, but for the most part, Noggin is hilarious. Travis is very wry, and he and Hatton can’t help but make light of such an incredible situation.

I would absolutely recommend Noggin. Whaley is a gifted author, and I am looking forward to reading his first book, and any other books he happens to write. If you would like some more information, you can find it here: Noggin

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