Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

340 pages, ebook

First published April 8, 2014

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

John Corey Whaley

4 books906 followers
JOHN ‘COREY’ WHALEY grew up in the small town of Springhill, Louisiana, where he learned to be sarcastic and to tell stories. He has a B.A. in English from Louisiana Tech University, as well as an M.A in Secondary English Education. He started writing stories about aliens and underwater civilizations when he was around ten or eleven, but now writes realistic YA fiction (which sometimes includes zombies…). He taught public school for five years and spent much of that time daydreaming about being a full-time writer…and dodging his students’ crafty projectiles. He is terrible at most sports, but is an occasional kayaker and bongo player. He is obsessed with movies, music, and traveling to new places. He is an incredibly picky eater and has never been punched in the face, though he has come quite close. One time, when he was a kid, he had a curse put on him by a strange woman in the arcade section of a Wal-Mart. His favorite word is defenestration. His favorite color is green. His favorite smell is books. He currently splits his time between Louisiana and Los Angeles.

Where Things Come Back is his first novel.

NOGGIN, his second novel, is out on April 8, 2014.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
3,229 (27%)
4 stars
4,309 (36%)
3 stars
2,939 (24%)
2 stars
945 (7%)
1 star
459 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,951 reviews
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews164k followers
April 13, 2018
Need to let this one sink in before I comment my thoughts on it, but for the most part I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,414 reviews7,407 followers
November 18, 2015
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

I would say I “didn’t get” this story, but seriously . . .

The idea of Noggin was great . . .

“Everything can go from fine and dandy to dark and depressing faster than you can say ‘acute lymphoblastic leukemia.’”

When Travis Coates was diagnosed with terminal cancer as a 16-year old boy, he was offered a potential second chance . . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

Travis chose to roll the dice and have his head cryogenically frozen. What he didn’t plan on was the technology moving so fast and him “waking up” a mere five years later. Here’s where the problems started for me. Like I said, the idea was totally original. Unfortunately, the execution left much to be desired. Travis returns to his former life expecting everything to pretty much have remained status quo. And there were some life lessons and quotable quotes included in the story . . .

“We go along with impossible things because we have to survive when life starts getting too dark.”

The majority of the time, though? There was an awful lot of me wanting to kick Travis in the nads. Being a person who is raising a teenager, I understand that Travis was probably waaaaaay more realistic than the average YA character. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut, in this case I needed him to not be. To begin with, Travis re-friends his former (gay) bestie, only to find out that said bestie now bats for the hetero team. I’m not even going to get into the argument about sexuality being something that can be measured on a gradient rather than set in stone, but focus on the fact that JUST ACCEPT YOUR F-ING FRIEND FOR WHO HE IS! I mean, here’s a 20-something who has a dead 16 year old thrown back in his life and is just supposed to be cool with that. Does it really matter if your gay friend is no longer gay?????

Palm Springs commercial photography

Which leads us to Travis’ other obsession – his old girlfriend. Said old girlfriend has also aged 5 years, and although she said she’d wait forever no one really believed Travis would come back from the dead so she moved on and is now engaged to someone else. That’s not okay with Travis, though, and he makes it his mission to plant himself in her path as much as possible because he’s positive she’ll see she’s made a mistake . . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

She’s just not that into you, Travis. And also? You’re a minor and she probably doesn’t want to be sitting across the table from Chris Hansen anytime soon.

This story had tons of potential, and the fact that it was a National Book Award finalist had me believing it was really going to be something special. Sadly I found it to be the same tired out tropes I’ve read in YA fiction a bazillion times before.

HOWEVER my friend TL had a completely opposite reaction to this book, so maybe you’ll love it too?
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
832 reviews3,718 followers
February 15, 2021

DISCLAIMER : Don't seek scientific accuracy because there's none, and, really, that's not the point. You don't believe me? Just imagine I'd ask John Corey Whaley if he wanted to tell a realistic story, scientifically wise.

"Yeah. Sure. That's exactly why I chose to talk about a guy whose head is cut off then frozen THEN attached to someone else's body. Sure." *side glances* - who is this crazy chick?

There's this weird thing we often use when reading scifi, called suspension of disbelief . That sums it up. *blows kiss*

That does not mean that I enjoyed Noggin. Hell, by the end I pretty much hated it. I just thought I'd point that scientific inaccuracy was by no means what bothered me.

Say, you are a 16 years old guy dying from cancer. You want to come back from the dead years after with a new body? You think that's a good idea? That it must be fun to discover a whole new self?

Well, think again.

✘ First it's so fucking gross. There are whole parts of yourself you have to make acquaintance with *cough* your new penis *cough*.

✘ Your friends have moved on in their lives and frankly? The whole "I return from the dead" trip is freaking them out something fierce... or so you suppose, because that's not as if they would welcome you anyway, let alone talk to you (they'll get over it, but still). Basically you took the longest nap of your life. 5 years. Except that wasn't a nap for people who loved you. They missed you. They mourned you. Then they went through the 7 phases of grief and created a new life without you. Yeah, that sucks, but hey! We can't blame them. But you, YOU. Think about you. You didn't miss them. You didn't move on, because HELLO, 5 min nap! You are stuck in a 16 years old body while they're 5 years older now.

✘ Oh, and you're a miracle (or an abomination, depending on who's talking to you). Three blessings and 24/7 covering, here's the new guy everyone is gossiping about! Just smile already.

You don't? Awwww. What an ungrateful little jerk you are, really. Just be happy already.

We can't blame Travis for being confused, messed-up, and a little angry. His behavior is pretty realistic. I know that. BUT the delusion, man. This is too-much.

*Delusion is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary. OR :

Albeit well-written, funny and moving at times, Travis' mess story was incredibly frustrating : after having (really) enjoyed the beginning, I wanted to submit him to an intervention pretty fast, to be honest.

TRAVIS, JUST MOVE THE FUCK ON. Cate is 21. She has lived without you for 5 years. And that doesn't mean that she didn't love you before but she is engaged now, buddy. I'd hate for you to do something embarrass-

Oh, never mind. Of course you're RIGHT. Of course EVERYBODY is wrong. GD.

I can't help but HATE when characters say things like "I'm gonna make her change her mind. I'm gonna go all sneaky and tell her that's okay to be just friends but in fact I'll plot the end of her (happy) relationship". I CAN'T. Past is in the past. I'm sorry, but that's how I feel it. That's why even though I felt bad for him, even though I could understand why he felt that way, I couldn't get past his absolute denial of everyone else's feelings, especially Cate, his former girlfriend, and Kyle, his best-friend.

By the end I couldn't stand him, and his burgeoning self-loathing didn't help either. Perhaps I'm being unfair, but really, what can I say about a book where the male-lead, if not a complete asshole, is making me cringe so bad that I struggle to finish his story?

I'll give it a 2, no matter how much I enjoyed the first 20 percents, no matter how original the concept is, no matter how many tears threatened to fall from my eyes in the beginning. Because, really, who enjoys a book where we only want for the MC to shut the fuck up?

Certainly not me.
Profile Image for Neal Shusterman.
Author 86 books24.2k followers
October 3, 2014
Really enjoyed this one! The premise here is my kind of story -- a dying kid decides to have his head cryogenically frozen, figuring if they ever revive him, it will be in the distant future. Well, surprise, it happens five years later. He now has the buff body of some dead kid, and has to deal with that, and the fact that everyone in his life is five years older, and his parents who had mourned him, now have him back, which is weird on all fronts.

Having explored similar transplant-related issues in the Unwind books, it’s wonderful to see how another author handles the subject matter. I think my only criticism would be that I would have loved to have seen more of the story focus on him coming to terms with this new body, and the ambivalent emotions, instead spending so much time on the love story. I would have loved to have seen more of the family of the body donor, and the main characters coming to terms with them. But that’s the sign of a good book -- it leaves you wishing that more of the concept could have been explored.
Profile Image for Andrew Hicks.
94 reviews43 followers
November 6, 2014
When I got married in 2007, we moved 120 miles away. In 2011, we moved back. I thought my return would be the best of both worlds - I’d have my new family life and old friends back, redefined for adulthood. I walked into my old bar, the neighborhood hangout from my single years, and the same people were there, many of them sitting on the same stools, all of them doing and talking the same shit. And for me - it was obvious, immediately - it wasn’t the same. Three years later, I still haven’t gone back to that bar.

Now imagine being Travis Coates, the protagonist/narrator of Noggin . At the age of 16, with a terminal case of leukemia, Travis volunteered for a secret, sci-fi-sounding surgery. His head was cut off and cryogenically frozen. Now, five years later, feeling like he woke up from a nap, Travis regains consciousness in a hospital bed, surrounded by doctors, nurses and his parents. Travis’s head has been transplanted onto a perfectly healthy donor body. He is a miracle of modern science, and his marching orders are to go live and enjoy life again.

So there’s this Flight of the Navigator -type situation going on. For Travis, no time has passed. For his best friend Kyle and girlfriend Cate, who are now in their early 20s, it’s been a half-decade of mourning Travis and trying to go live and enjoy life again. Now, unexpectedly, he’s back.

The wedge, aside from the natural effects of time spent apart, between Travis and Kyle stems from the fact that Kyle told him on his deathbed that he (i.e. Kyle) was gay. Now Kyle’s like, Never mind that shit, meet my girlfriend. Whoops... Guys, though, especially Guys in Fiction, can always work out their conflicts.

Cate proves a tougher nut to crack. She’s engaged now, to a 25-year-old full-fledged adult. Travis’s single-minded mentality is, Cate belongs with me, I’ll do what it takes to get her back. And, throughout the book, that attitude never wavers - even though picking up with Cate is clearly impossible, making the situation sad, overstated, painful to observe and doomed to futility.

Cate and Travis is the relationship the book hinges on - there are flashbacks aplenty - and they’re no Eleanor and Park, but they made a pretty awesome couple back in the day. Noggin is five parts Cate and Travis, three parts Travis and Kyle, two parts Travis and Hatton (Travis’s new best friend in high school, likable but essentially a Kyle clone), and one part Travis and his parents.

There are just a couple minor supporting characters, the only significant one being Lawrence - married dude, father, and the only other person on Earth who’s been successfully brought back to life with his head on a donor body. Lawrence pops up on the phone every now and again to assure Travis that, Yeah, this shit is weird, and Nah, nobody else could ever understand what it’s like to be us.

Author John Corey Whaley, who won the Printz Award with his 2011 debut Where Things Come Back , went much more high-concept and ambitious with the premise and scope of Noggin , his sophomore effort. But he scaled back the story and the characters this time. The plot itself is threadbare, though there was one revelatory twist at the two-thirds mark that I really didn’t see coming.

The emotional exploration, though, is huge. These are characters you’ll empathize with individually, even when they’re at odds with each other. Noggin is by no means epic, and it does meander (like Where Things Come Back , it could be twice as good at half the length), but it has huge heart and winning humor. I’m eager to follow Whaley as his writing career progresses.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,914 reviews35.3k followers
May 26, 2016
A few basic facts.....
It's a Young Adult book about a dying kid - *Travis* - who chooses to have his
head cryogenically frozen. Five years later - he's back - alive with a fit- and taller body.
To Travis, it only feels like he's been asleep for the night -- in no way does it seem like five years has gone by without him.

However, after Travis woke up his parents kept saying how much they missed him.
It made Travis feel weird. Very weird!
Everything is different ... everyONE is different.

Travis is trying to figure out how to be ...and everyone is watching. He feels 16...but he's 21. It 'feels' like he still has a girlfriend ...but she's engaged to somebody else.
His parents are no longer the same. He has to deal with school, friends, and sexuality.
He's awkward, confused, annoying, and lovable.

Parts of this book is very funny. Parts very sad. Mostly it's thought provoking.
I actually thought about the five years Travis was asleep. I tried to imagine the way life took shape - and changed dramatically for his parents.
Also...just trying to imagine 'returning' to life ( after being frozen), is mind blowing. The adjustments would be astronomical.

John Corey Whaley's writing style flows naturally. The characters seem authentic... and the humor understated. I adored it!!!

Profile Image for TL .
1,790 reviews35 followers
November 2, 2015
*edited somewhat 11-1-15 with quotes and extra thoughts*

“Maybe we all just exist, all versions of us exist at times, and we have to figure out a way to get to each of them, to find each one and tell that version that it's okay, that it's all just the way it works, a concept too powerful to ignore but too complicated to explain.”
“No matter how often you see or talk to someone, no matter how much you know them or don't know them, you always fill up some space in their lives that can't ever be replaced the right way again once you leave it.”
A tale you have to suspend belief for on one aspect but an interesting one with that at first is slightly creepy but it didn't take me long to sink into the story.

I couldn't imagine making the decision Travis did, not knowing for sure if you would come back and adjusting to everything being different when you aren't.

“We all get lots of people. And maybe we don’t always get to have them the exact way we want them, but if we can figure out a way to compromise, you know, then we can keep them all.”

“Okay, so first we get you a new computer and then a Facebook page. Priorities, you know," he said, typing in Kyle's password.

"What would I do without you--"

"Found her," he interrupted. "She's at Carrie's OK Bar. It's downtown."

"What the hell is Carrie's OK Bar?"

"It's a karaoke bar. Travis, come on."

"Wait, how do you know she's there?"

"She checked in there about twenty minutes ago."

"What does that mean?"

"Oh. Right. Since you left, it's become very important that we all constantly know each other's thoughts, locations, and birthdays."

"That's really stupid. Except for in this one very specific situation. I can't go if her fiancé's there, though. That would be too weird."

"He's not."

"How do you know?"

"Because she put 'Girls' Night' with about five exclamation points after it."

"Are people just asking to be murdered?"

"Pretty much. So are we going?”

One of my favorite bits was

Travis'quest to was a little annoying at times. I understood his position somewhat but I was hoping he would wise up/move on (right phrases?)soon. His grand gesture of was misguided and crazy but oddly sweet in its own way. I was actually 'yelling' at the audiobook to Travis not to do it haha.

Hatten (sp? since I don't have the hardcover) was a riot :). I was glad he was a genuine friend to Travis.

A moment in the video arcade had me wanting to give Travis a big hug.

In some places I thought it could have gone deeper into the concept but I had fun reading it :).

Narrator for audiobook - 5 stars
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
November 9, 2014
I'd rate this 4.5, maybe 4.75 stars.

One of the things I love so much about reading is what different books do for me. Some entertain, some manipulate my emotions (this is not necessarily a negative), some teach, some infuriate, and some make me think. I love when a book surprises me and does more than I expect. Such was the case with John Corey Whaley's spectacular second novel, Noggin. I enjoyed it tremendously (despite its offbeat premise) and it really made me think.

Travis Coates was a gravely ill 16-year-old who was tired of dying, but he didn't want to keep living the way he was. He and his family agreed to participate in an experimental program in which his head (the only part of his body not riddled with the cancer that was killing him) was removed from his body and, when medical and technological advances made it possible, it would be attached to another donor's body. Deep down inside, everyone had a feeling this would never happen, but it was a good thing to imagine occurring years into the future.

One morning Travis woke up, his parents by his side, to find that his head had been reattached to another teenager's body (a better body, if anyone's counting). For Travis, it only seemed like a few hours had passed since he said goodbye to his family, his best friend, Kyle, and his girlfriend, Cate, but for everyone else, it was five years later. Five years in which so much had changed.

"I want to tell you a story about how you can suddenly wake up to find yourself living a life you were never supposed to live. It could happen to you, just like it happened to me, and you could try to get back the life you think you deserve to be living. Just like I did."

Travis has to return to his high school and repeat sophomore year. (While he should be 21, his body and his mind are still 16, and he didn't get enough credits while he was sick to become a junior.) Beyond everyone wanting to get a look at his really cool scar where they attached his head to the other boy's body, it's weird being there without Kyle and Cate, although he is able to make a new friend.

But as similar as that aspect of his life is, things are really different where Kyle and Cate are concerned, as their lives moved on, much differently than Travis would have expected. Travis can't seem to understand why they can't seem to pick things up where they left off, and runs the risk of alienating the people who matter the most to him. It's truly hard to reconcile his gratitude at being able to have another chance to live with his frustration that his life can't be the way he wants it to be.

Noggin is tremendously thought-provoking, because while the procedure that gave Travis a new lease on life is certainly difficult to grasp, it raises some interesting questions. If you thought a person you lost would come back to you, should you keep your life in a holding pattern until it was confirmed that it won't happen? What obligation do we have to those we leave behind? If this procedure existed, should it be used, or is it one step too far?

I really loved this book. I loved the fact that Travis wasn't any wiser than he was before he died, and if anything, he's more confused. I loved all of the characters and how they were flawed, just like real life. And I love the way Whaley tells a story, which is just one reason why his previous book, Where Things Come Back, was one of my favorite books of 2012.

If you can get past the procedure on which this book hinges, you'll really enjoy this, and it will move you if you've ever had to face the loss of someone you wish could still be with you. As Travis says, "It made me realize that no matter how often you see or talk to someone, no matter how much you know them or don't know them, you always fill up some space in their lives that can't ever be replaced the right way again once you leave it."

Noggin might be that way for me.
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,198 reviews26k followers
November 28, 2019
I loved this book so much more than I was expecting. After reading the synopsis I was really intrigued and I was curious to see how this story would unfold. It did not disappoint at all. One minute i was literally laughing out loud (which is rare for me to actually do while reading) and the next I was crying. I couldn't believe how emotional some of these scenes were for me, and how attached I got to these characters. All of the characters in this book are well developed: Travis, Cate, Kyle, even Travis's parents are well developed characters, which I wasn't expecting. This is a story about life and death and grief, but also a story about what it means to be alive.

I stayed up till 2am reading this book because I couldn't put it down and I was enjoying it so much. Travis is a very relatable character. It's just the way he thinks, the way this book is written that makes Travis such a relatable character. "But in that moment I understood what they say about nostalgia, that no matter if you're thinking of something good or bad, it always leaves you a little emptier afterward." I highlighted that quote because I completely agree and I thought it was so beautifully said. John Corey Whaley has a beautiful way with words, and an incredible sense of humor. I loved Hatton's character, I could not stop laughing every time he opened his mouth. I also really loved the relationship between Travis and Kyle because you could tell they really cared about each other and wanted each other to be happy.

I think the idea that you could wake up 5 years later and have your head attached to another human being is terrifying, but also amazing. The fact that Travis got a second chance at life is so fascinating, but I like that this book dives into the problems that also happen in a situation like this. because yes, it is a miracle, but Travis feels like he is left out and has missed growing up with his friends, and he doesn't understand what has happened within his own family.

The one problem I had with this book was Cate's character. I don't know why, she just bugged me. Maybe it was because she constantly lead him on, even though she was engaged, and then she would get pissed at him for trying anything with her. I think it was a cool plot point to have his previous girlfriend be engaged to another guy when he wakes up, but I also thought she took up so much of Travis's time. It felt a little repetitive at times with Travis trying to be with her and her leading him on, just to reject him later. I understand that Travis was a little naive, but I admired his optimism at the same time. I just wish Cate wouldn't have led him on so much. I also think it ended kind of awkwardly between Cate and Travis because to me it feel like nothing had been resolved between them. At least not in the way I wanted. However, i will agree with what Cate said, when she said everyone has soul mates for different times in their lives. I agree because it's hard to believe in just one soul mate. I think we have several soul mates at different times in our lives, and that's okay. I think our soul mate at the time is whoever makes us happiest in the world at that moment, and if that changes several years later, that's okay too. But I did think the ending in general was kind of awkward and I didn't really understand why it ended the way it did. I was expecting it to end beautifully and give me a positive outlook on life, but then it just kind of ended. I felt like maybe there should have been an extra chapter at the end just to sum everything up.

Other than that, I really enjoyed Noggin. This book somewhat reminded me of "Winger" by Andrew Smith and "Everyday" by David Levithan. It reminded me of Winger because of the humor, and Everyday because of his constant desire to be with this one girl. I enjoyed those books as well and this will only add to the collection of books I love. I can't wait to read other books by John Corey Whaley.
Profile Image for Michael.
177 reviews773 followers
March 25, 2016

I just finished this a second ago and I really don't know how to rate it! My thoughts are all over the place.

It was a book that made me think. The entire thing was one big what if? There were so many lines that really hit the nail on the head about dealing with loss and grieving, and learning to move on. Powerful stuff.

But at the same time, all these powerful thing were said but I feel like I didn't get to see them happen. There was very little plot movement in this book and I absolutely 100% understand why that was so, but by the end it still felt so stagnant and incomplete. Not just with the main storyline but with secondary storylines as well. I wanted some semblance of an idea about how things would go from there, but didn't feel that I got that.

Still, I genuinely read this book in one sitting. I couldn't stop reading, the idea was just so fascinating. I really fell into Travis' world.
Profile Image for Debby.
583 reviews540 followers
April 17, 2021
4 stars

When I was offered Noggin for review, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. From the blurb it just sounded unique and sort of weird. With the head cut off element, I thought it would be a bizarre kind of sci-fi, but nope. This book surprised me in the best possible way.

Noggin is actually sort of a cancer book. It centers on Travis Coates who, indeed, has his head cut off - but for a medical reason. He had a terminal form of cancer that had destroyed his body - except for his head. Knowing he had no other options, he consented to participate in a new medical procedure. His head would be cut off and cryogenically frozen until such time as technology had advanced enough to allow him to survive reattachment to another body. He first expects that he would wake up far in the future, but instead he wakes up 5 years later: just long enough for his family, girlfriend and friends to have moved on, but not long enough for him to be able to let them go entirely, as for him no time had passed at all.

I honestly was not expecting that kind of story from the blurb, but it just instantly drew me in. I'm not the type of person who often goes for sickness or grief stories, because I find it hard to connect. But here the connection was instantaneous, mostly because Travis has such a refreshing voice. It was really fluid and easy to understand his thoughts, to be drawn into his mind and sympathize with his story. He has a wry kind of humor that pops out at just the right times and puts a smirk on your face despite his circumstances.

So the book tells Travis's story of coming back to life with much fanfare to the world as a medical miracle interspersed with flashbacks to show how his former life ended. Tons of emotions abound. Honestly, there were moments when I had tears in my eyes because of the beautiful bond Travis had with his family, his girlfriend Cate, and his best friend, Kyle. This book is mostly about the relationships between these characters, all of which are rather strained because of the circumstances. Everyone wants to move on, but nobody really knows how. Strangely there's no handbook on what to do when your son/(ex-)boyfriend/best friend comes back to life. And slowly it becomes obvious just how big of an effect Travis's presence (and absence) had on all of them. I really felt touched by their stories and basically loved all of the characters, including Travis's new friend, Hatton. Their relationships are beautiful, and they all give each other the reality checks they need.

I was seriously enjoying this and was super engrossed, but in my opinion, the story trailed off in the end. I didn't feel like the ending was that strong, and I was rather frustrated with Travis and some of the choices he made. While it sort of fit the trend of his desperation and clinging to his former life, I would have liked to see more growth. However, I can also imagine that this is a more realistic take on how someone in such a situation would truly react.

Ultimately, Noggin is a really unique take on an aftermath of cancer story. It's a book that really makes you think about your own life, choices and relationships, and about the passage of time. When I finished, I felt sort of fragile. I needed to just lie in bed for a while and digest - and it's very rare that a book has that kind of effect on me. So while I didn't feel like the ending was that strong, it did leave a mark on me as a reader. And that is excellent. For what it's worth, I think this would be a brilliant book for a book club, because it definitely fosters discussion.

Summing Up:

This is a strange little book, but I cannot stress enough how glad I am that it found its way into my hands. While it's a story that's a bit out of my comfort zone, it worked out extremely well. I loved this unique premise, with its awesome characters, beautiful relationships, and refreshing voice. It's a book that will linger on in your mind for days. And personally, I'm betting it will beg me for a reread at some point.

GIF it to me straight!


Recommended To:

Fans of character-driven stories dealing with the consequences of life and death, and/or, potentially, fans of The Fault in Our Stars.

*ARC was provided by ABC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the contents of the review.
Profile Image for Ken Shindle.
31 reviews1 follower
September 25, 2017
Noggin is a disappointing follow-up to Whaley's thought-provoking, well-written Where Things Come Back; it's a predictable story filled with banalities, shallow characters, and completely unbelievable dialogue. I hate being hard on a book quite obviously written for children, but I've come to expect a lot more from YA literature.

Noggin reads like an elementary school version of The Great Gatsby (though Whaley adds curses, I guess, to make his story seem more mature): a male protagonist reemerges among family and friends after a five year absence during which his head was attached to another man's body, and he's desperate for everyone to act as if nothing has changed while he was gone. Travis longs for former beau Cate just as Gatsby longs for the alluring Daisy Buchanan; Travis, too, reacts angrily to assertions that the past is gone forever just as Gatsby does. I kept waiting, in fact, for one of Travis Coates's friends to yell at him, as Nick Carraway yells at Gatsby in Fitzgerald's masterpiece, that he "can't repeat the past" and for Travis to yell back, "Can't repeat the past? Why, of course you can!" The theme works in Gatsby because of Fitzgerald's ability to craft a powerful love story and to make the titular character one on which readers can take pity and one who shows us all the dangers of nostalgia; it fails here because Travis Coates and his commonplace story are so woefully underdeveloped.

There is a good book somewhere hidden within in the plot of Noggin. There are fascinating ethical and moral issues Whaley could've explored in his book: was Travis ever legally dead? is the surgery Travis undergoes a morally defensible one? what happens to a family that experiences a retroactively unnecessary grieving process? would it have been easier for those with whom Travis was closest to simply stay in his limbo? Instead, Whaley leaves these conversations for the "grown ups," only ever addressed on nightly news broadcasts that Travis tunes out.

Whaley, too, has a horrible habit of telling his reader why something should be emotionally impactful after his opportunity for that emotional impact has passed. "Travis cried over the loss of two chairs from an old theatre that he set up in his room before his surgery," Whaley seems to say. "Now, let me tell you why those chairs were so important to him." It didn't work for me as I tried desperately to find something in which I could be invested.

I'll read Whaley's next book, for sure, because I was so impressed with his debut, but Noggin left me scratching my head.
Profile Image for Josiah.
3,211 reviews145 followers
July 13, 2018
I finally get it. The comparisons to John Green made by John Corey Whaley's fans? I see it now. As raw, devastating, and brilliant as The Fault in Our Stars was, Noggin matches those qualities and perhaps slightly exceeds them, a mass of painfully intense emotion that gains momentum as the story rolls toward a conclusion we're never quite ready for. The ability to thrust readers so deep into a story that they feel the main character's anxiety, tribulation, and heartbreak as if they were their own is a rare talent, and even many of the greats don't possess it. But Gayle Forman? She gets behind our defenses that way. John Green, Patrick Ness, Neal Shusterman, Sophie Kinsella, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde? So do they. Now I must add John Corey Whaley to that elite (if not exhaustive) list of gifted writers, for what he pulls off in Noggin. I wasn't convinced after his debut novel, Where Things Come Back; I didn't understand what he was trying to say, didn't deeply feel the story. But Noggin is art at or near its peak of transcendence, a foray into hidden grottos of the human heart that hold more terrible danger than any jungle filled with flesh-eating beasts, any dark ocean prowled by monsters beyond our imagination, any remote region of outer space and its fathomless mysteries. You will not finish this novel without your own emotional scars as deep as the ones Travis Coates bears inside and out. Coming back from the dead is uncharted territory, and its pioneers are bound to face hardship like any pioneer setting foot in an unexplored land.

Sixteen-year-old Travis's resurrection from death isn't a plot surprise. It's a fact stated in the opening lines of Noggin, surreal as the concept seems. His weary body riddled with cancer but his head not contaminated, Travis was approached by Dr. Saranson of the Saranson Center for Life Preservation. A vanguard researcher in cryogenics and reanimation technology, Dr. Saranson offered his services to Travis if he were willing to be a test subject. They'd schedule a time to ease him into cryogenic suspension before the cancer killed him, and if medicine someday advanced to the point where he could be brought back, reanimation would be attempted. Reanimation of his head, that is; the rest of his body was unsalvageable, but if a body donor could be found on that hypothetical future date of reanimation, then Travis could, in theory, return. It might not have been for decades, maybe a hundred years or more, but the small chance that he could be rebooted to life with a healthy body was enough. Travis took the plunge, bidding a moving goodbye to family and friends and then transitioning into cryogenic suspension, possibly forever.

Medical advances sure come fast, don't they? A mere five years after breathing his last and entering deep freeze, Travis is thawed and his head attached to the body of a teen who died of a brain tumor. He awakens in the hospital with his parents sobbing in amazement that their son has come back to them, but for Travis it feels like only moments have passed. He wonders at first if putting him into cryogenic suspension just didn't work and they'll try again, but no: it's five years later and Travis is back to stay, with a taller, more muscular body than ever.

"Secrets...will boil under your skin until it feels like every time you speak, every time you look in the mirror, every time you hug someone or kiss someone or tell someone you love them, it feels like you're going to die."

Noggin, P. 194

Travis realizes that life is about to become complicated, but at least he has a life to complicate. His birth certificate testifies he's twenty-one, but in every way that counts he's sixteen, so he'll resume his sophomore year of high school as soon as he's physically up to it. His old friends have graduated, so Travis won't know anyone in his class. Speaking of his old friends, where are they? The Kyle Hagler he knew would come at the first hint that the cryogenic code had been cracked and Travis would soon be restored to the ranks of the living. Wouldn't he? Days and then weeks pass without word from Kyle as Travis progresses from precautionary observation in the hospital to going home. If Kyle is too busy with college and other things to visit right away, Travis's girlfriend Cate still would, right? The girl he fell in love with in eighth grade as a result of a thousand perfect little moments would be at his side as soon as she heard there was hope that Travis could come back. But Cate hasn't stopped by, either, and Travis gets the picture when his parents break the news: she's engaged, to a guy named Turner. Five years of cryostasis wasn't so long that the people in Travis's life were dead, but it was long enough for them to make it through the stages of grief and move forward with their lives. But don't Kyle and Cate even want to see him?

"(N)o matter how often you see or talk to someone, no matter how much you know them or don't know them, you always fill up some space in their lives that can't ever be replaced the right way again once you leave it."

Noggin, P. 124

The miracle "head kid" isn't the first successful reanimation (he's the second), but the accompanying fame is still overwhelming. He's greeted by spontaneous applause in every class the first day of school, viewed by his formerly younger peers with awe and morbid curiosity. Even kids who don't ask to see the scar where his head was implanted are secretly dying to get a look. Travis makes a friend named Hatton, who's similarly sarcastic to how Kyle used to be and with the same underlying decency that makes him worthy friend material. The chasm between Travis and the rest of the tenth grade is so wide that most students are scared to attempt crossing it, but hanging out and eating lunch with Hatton each day makes the stress of Travis's second go-round at life more bearable. Even no-nonsense teachers treat him like a breakable object and students are divided between seeing him as an omen from God or Satan, but being obligated to attend high school isn't as terrible as it could be.

The truly emotional reunions are yet to come, however. When Travis meets Kyle after weeks of waiting for his old best friend to take the initiative, Kyle is apologetic for not being there sooner. He'd let go of Travis years ago, assuming that was the end of his life and he'd have to make do without him. The possibility that Travis's head could actually be revived and popped onto another kid's torso was hardly even an afterthought to Kyle, but he's overjoyed that it worked out. He refused to believe in the reanimation even after Travis's parents phoned and said the doctors were about to try it after five years. Did they have the technology to make a real go at it? What if everyone got their hopes up and the experiment failed, or Travis came back to life only to pass away for good a few days later? Kyle didn't want any part of believing his best friend was alive only to grieve his death a second time. The thought was too horrible to give any traction until he had to face that Travis was alive and well again, somehow, and would stay that way. There are complications to their friendship now that Kyle is five years older, but the old rapport returns as though it never left, that intelligent, irreverent back-and-forth that Kyle missed more than Travis had any chance to. After all, for Travis it feels like only a few weeks since he bade Kyle goodbye before succumbing to the big freeze.

Cate isn't as easy to reconnect with. Weeks flow by like a swift river with no acknowledgement from Travis's former girlfriend, and he stews over the tacit rejection. Does she not care about him anymore? The same Cate he reminisces about so poignantly that it puts a lingering ache in the reader's heart, special days and conversations that sealed them forever as part of each other, the shared dreams, opinions, interests, and tokens of affection that were so personal they remain as meaningful now as when they were first offered? No, the Cate he loves and who he knows still loves him wouldn't let five years dismantle the beautiful tower of togetherness they built day by day. They meant more to each other than to have it all erased by the uncomfortable reality of her engagement to some older guy. When more days pile up with no signal from Cate that she's planning to reach out, Travis recruits his new friend Hatton to help find her. Cate no longer lives with her parents, but she's in town somewhere, and Travis can't wait anymore with this darkening cloud gathering overhead. It ends now.

"We have this way of putting certain ideas out of our minds...we do that. Humans, I mean. We have to bury things, hopes and dreams, so deep sometimes that it takes a little while to access those things once we need them again."

—Dr. Saranson, Noggin, P. 29

Noggin is a concept of such incredible ambition that I'd be reluctant to trust any lesser author than Patrick Ness or Neal Shusterman with it, but the emotion is surprisingly basic. The whelming flood of feelings starts at this point in the story, when Travis regains contact with Cate through a series of desperate schemes, hardly admitting to himself at first what his goal is: to convince her to end her engagement and return to him. He felt Cate's love as a reassuring promise during their early years of high school, the only years they'd have together. The breaking of that promise doesn't compute for him because his conscious mind insists that no more than a few weeks separate him from his high-school sweetheart. Cate suffered for five years after he passed away, crawling drearily through life at school, trying to earn passing grades while dying inside. She stumbled out of the lightless labyrinth of grief after so long, found a guy she could love and envision herself happy with for life, and now a part of her past she believed was dead and buried wants to pick up where they left off. Travis and Cate have very different perspectives on reality, but is there any reconciling them? What is one to do when the unquenchable flame of love burns inside with such agony that it has to be all or nothing, no weaker version of the relationship can satisfy the soul of a pursuer whose era on earth has passed him by? This is the emotional crux of Noggin, the haunting pain that reverberates eternally. It is unforgettable.

In life, relationships end. People who passionately loved each other move on for various reasons, left with memories of a time when life felt impossibly harmonic, too sweet to be reality in this jaded world. But what happens when people come back? When a relationship that meant something to you is pronounced dead, and after a while the heartbeat suddenly restarts and the person reenters your life just as you remember them, it's a miracle beyond understanding. How do we react when a love we laid to rest as surely as if we held a funeral for it is alive again, defying all logic? Have we changed? Have they? Do we determine to turn back time to an earlier era of our life, as though we haven't grown and become wiser since parting ways with them? Or are we ready for the changes that have undoubtedly come to us both, to find out if we can make the magic work as it did when we were young and first enjoyed ourselves together? The resuscitation of love can be glorious, but it can be a minefield as well, detonations waiting to maim us if we step wrong. This uncertainty electrifies every moment of Noggin, filling us with a swirl of dread and hope and elation and worry that won't let go our hearts. It's uncomfortable, hard to bear, and is some of the most effective storytelling I've encountered. But Noggin isn't only about the ambiguities of love restored after being declared dead. It paints a picture of making a comeback to anything that once meant a lot to us, even athletes coming out of retirement to play the sport that made them famous, or prodigies who burn out and forsake their talent, only to return years later and try again. The landscape of any competitive pastime is going to change while you're gone, new wunderkinds advancing the activity in ways you hadn't foreseen. Returning to relevancy after a lengthy hiatus is hard when your peers have either grown in their own abilities or left like you did but never come back. Can you fit in the new landscape as what you were, making friends with the next generation and relearning to excel as you once did? What if you're not able to regain the edge you held over your rivals? Noggin captures every nuance of these feelings, helping us relate to them through our own experiences whether or not we've had a version of Travis's return from the great beyond. It's profound on a visceral level the reader won't be able to shake for days, if not a lot longer.

Disoriented and unable to figure out what he should do with his second life, Travis is given sound advice in the hospital by a phantom nurse who may or may not have actually been there to speak with him. "You've just been handed the keys to the kingdom, Travis. Don't waste a second of it feeling sorry for yourself." Whether reanimation ever becomes commonplace or not, Travis is a miracle, and can resume life as though his body from the neck down hadn't been decimated by cancer. When you get a chance to come back after your doom was signed, sealed, and delivered, you grab that opportunity and don't let go for any reason. Whatever comes of the fresh life you've been given, joyous or heartrending, you are a blessing that others thought they'd never see again. Treat that with respect. While undergoing aggressive cancer therapy before it became obvious his life was a lost cause, puking constantly from chemo and being heavily drugged to mask the debilitating pain, Travis felt it would be a relief to let go. That's why he agreed to be Dr. Saranson's test subject, not because he expected the cryogenic suspension to work. Always being numbed to the pain by drugs was its own torture, Travis realized. "I'm not sure why so many people get addicted to pain pills because, at a certain point, not feeling anything becomes much more painful than the disease eating away at your cells." Is it preferable to feel pain or be numb to it, if relief means you can't experience the thrills of life? After months of living in a pharmaceutical stupor, Travis knows that being without discomfort doesn't mean your quality of life is good.

The emotional bond with Cate is so raw, so real, that I get teary when I reread what Travis says about the reasons he loves her. I get goosebumps, and that hollow, upset feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I want to curl up and weep. The parts about his feelings for Cate really affected me, making it easy to feel on the deepest level sentiments like this one: "For that, and for a lot of other reasons, I was better when she was around me. That's how I knew I loved her so much, because not loving her didn't make any sense once I'd known what it felt like." When those are the stakes, and everyone is telling him to let her go and move on as she has already, how can you not stand with Travis in his mission to wrest Cate back from her fiancé? We lose pieces of ourselves all life long, bits we can't get along without yet somehow learn to, but a loss like Cate can't be shrugged off. How is Travis supposed to be okay with relinquishing the love of his life because insidious cancer cells forced him out of commission for five years and Cate never thought she'd see him again? "When one of us is dying, they say a part of all of us is. I think that's why it hurts. We go our whole lives losing little chunks until we can't lose any more of them." We've seen too many pieces of Travis ripped away, and that's why it upsets us to see the most important part, Cate, being taken. We hate Turner before meeting him not because we think he's a bad guy, but because we have to believe that in those miraculous instances when things come back, something of our old life will be waiting as it was before, that the best thing we had won't be beyond reach when we awaken into a new world.

Maybe it's Cate who addresses all the conflicting concerns best. "You know, when you died, my mom told me something really important. She said it's too easy to get hung up on people the way we do. I mean, that we all get one person to be ours and that's it. We should look at it differently. We all get lots of people. And maybe we don't always get to have them the exact way we want them, but if we can figure out a way to compromise, you know, then we can keep them all." Is there more than one perfect match for our soul out there? That seems impossible to believe when you've been part of a relationship that fills your heart and then it's taken from you, but maybe there is more than one romantic dynamic we could be happy with for the rest of our life. But how does one let go of a love that has settled into one's spirit and made its home there? "I love you so much," Travis answers Cate. "I don't know how to let that go." "We're soul mates," she responds. "I know that. And so are Turner and me. And you and Hatton and Kyle. We all get people that help us make sense of the world, right? We just have to figure out how to keep them however we can. You and me, we worked. But you had to leave and I had to let other people in or I'd die too. I knew you didn't want that." Being alive means finding those friends who help us make sense of ourselves, but also risking losing them. You can't have one side of the coin without the other. Maybe, after five years of death, Travis can finally make peace with that.

"It is just an illusion here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone, it is gone forever."

—Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Slaughterhouse-Five, quoted in Noggin

This was a tough review to compose. The emotions so overwhelmed me that more than once as I recorded my thoughts, I broke down in tears. I can't explain how John Corey Whaley makes Travis's pain so uncomfortably accessible to the reader, to the point where I was afraid at times to continue the story for fear of what might happen next. Travis's fixation on regaining his relationship with Cate became so personal, it was as though the fate of the most meaningful relationship in my own life were tied to it, like maybe my own lost love would be resurrected if Travis could convince Cate that happiness without him was no happiness at all. I won't forget how Noggin touched my soul, triggering the most intense reaction I've had from a novel in a long time while ultimately reassuring me through my tears that life doesn't end because the one we love can't be beside us anymore. As long as our head is screwed on to our body, even if we had to borrow the body from someone else, there's the possibility of finding other people to "help us make sense of the world". Life can't be all bad once we find them, as much as we miss the one we lost. There's more to love about Noggin than I can say, and I believe I'll rate it four and a half stars. I could have chosen five and not regretted it. John Corey Whaley merits mention in proximity to any great in the pantheon of literature for what he achieved in this book. I could never be the same again after reading it.
Profile Image for Ginger at GReadsBooks.
371 reviews57 followers
September 14, 2014
The brilliance of Corey Whaley shines so brightly in this unique & unforgettable story. I will be pushing this book on to every reader I know! Full review to come later.


[Original review posted at GReads!]

When I first heard about the concept for this story, my head literally spun (see what I did there?). The idea that someone could get a body transplant from the neck down sounds completely absurd. How in the world is that even possible?! Well, my friends, that's the beauty of literature when its written by such a hysterically poetic man as John Corey Whaley. He makes it possible by crafting a story that is so rich with life, you begin to believe NOGGIN is more than just fiction.

Teenage Travis has been dealt a crappy hand at life with a body that refuses to be kind and decides its had enough. New medicine has revealed that he's eligible for a new body. All he has to do is have his head chopped off, kept in a freezer, and wait til his donor body is ready. But there are no guarantees. How do you make such a risky, difficult decision? Travis takes the leap of faith and goes through with the surgery, imparting temporary goodbyes to his parents, girlfriend, and best friend.

Five years go by and Travis's head remains frozen. Then one day the unthinkable happens. They've found a donor body and Travis's head is reattached, reborn, reawakened. For Travis its felt like a quick nap, as if he closed his eyes for just a few minutes, and then it was time to wake up. He's unaware of his world that's moved on, yet in some ways stayed the same, for the past five years. Can you even begin to imagine?!

As the story progresses we follow Travis as he learns his new body, in what should be his same world, but he quickly finds out is all too unfamiliar. He's this kid that the media wants to splash all over TV screens and magazine tabloids. Not only is he trying to adjust to this second chance at life he's been given, but he has to do it while EVERYONE watches. Whaley gives Travis an unforgettable voice. One that had me laughing one minute, only to be flooded with tears the next. The relationships that Travis encounters after five years of not knowing what will be are definitely tested at their bounds.

There's a moment in Travis's home when he finds the cremated remains of his previous body, that caused me to hold my breath while reading, uncertain of how this heavy moment will play out. The realization, literally in his hands, of what he's been through was just too surreal. Then to follow up that scene with a comical mishap is pure genius on Whaley's part. I definitely feel that this novel is a story that will cling to your heart, remind you of how precious our lives are, and how irreplaceable some moments can be.

Do yourself a favor and grab NOGGIN as soon as it becomes available. Its a story not to miss, and one I will continue to recommend over and over again.
Profile Image for Jacob McCabe.
148 reviews44 followers
March 19, 2015
Wow. What an amazing book. Now that Whaley has two books out, I can firmly say that he is one of my favorite authors.

Noggin has its slowish moments, but it is so unique compared to many contemporaries in its weird premise. It teaches you the importance of allowing people to be who they are, and to not try to make others behave in the way you expect them to. Fantastic book. One of my favorites.
Profile Image for Amanda NEVER MANDY.
446 reviews96 followers
December 28, 2018
One shouldn’t lose their head when dealing with life changes.

I read one other book by this author and I liked it so much I decided I wanted to read another. This book cured that craving and I won’t be back for more anytime soon. It’s not that it was bad, but that it was not my style. It was dripping with extremely predictable YA drama and I burnt out on that type of thing a few years back.

A walking science experiment experiences life after his first death. The people he left behind have moved on past his five year pause and grasping the change is something everyone is struggling to come to terms with.

Characters – Generic

Plot – Unique for about a chapter or two before falling into the same ol' bullshit pile.

Writing - Tolerable

Two stars to a book that was heavy on obvious and short on entertainment.
Profile Image for Roo James.
118 reviews4 followers
April 9, 2014
Aww. What a great book. John Corey Whaley sure told a unique, beautiful story with this one.
The main character Travis, although experiencing something otherwise unheard of, is still very much relatable. The moments of sadness, confusion, optimism, hope and denial are experiences we've all felt at some point or another. In a way this story helped me make sense of all that. Kinda like catharsis or what have you.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone in the mood for a good read. Also, that cover! I love it.
oh one last thing... does anyone wanna discuss that epilogue with me. Those two pages were my one gripe with this book. Otherwise perfect. 5 stars
Profile Image for Sophia.
102 reviews
June 9, 2016
Okay. First of all, let me say that this book made me laugh so much. I loved the main character. He was just so funny and BRAVE, sometimes in that reckless kind of way. Okay, I admit he was also a little bit selfish, but aren't we all? We're all flawed. He had my type of humor. That kind of turning-everything-into-a-joke-even-in-the-most-morbid-of-times, playful sense of humor that I just personally love so much. Seriously.

My favorite parts were when he joked with his friends and when they made a surprise for him at the hospital. That was really sweet. I think this book has a lot of heart, and that's why I liked it so much.

Maybe I'm falling in love with the writing style, but hey. That still says something.

There was one problem I had with the story. So during the first half I was thinking, "This is the best book I've read this year. Maybe one of my favorites.' I came close to crying during a few parts, I laughed, I smiled. Some parts made me think deeply. It was quite an experience.

As I continued, however, things took a sadder, less exciting turn. Travis became obsessed with getting his ex-girlfriend back, no matter how many times she refused. He was in such a denial to the point that he did something stupendously ridiculous. At that point, I cringed at his every move.

However, here are some of the gems in this book:

"We have to bury things, hopes and dreams, so deep sometimes that it takes a little while to access those things once we need them again." -p. 29

"'We're so proud of you, Travis. You're so brave,' Dad said with tears and a scratchy, broken voice.
'You guys have been better than you should've been,' I said. 'Can you just know that? Can you just try not to forget how good you were at all of this?'
'We haven't been good at anything,' Mom said.
'You took care of me,' I said. 'Every second, my whole life.'" -p. 80

"...no matter how often you see or talk to someone, no matter how much you know them or don't know them, you always fill up some space in their lives that can't ever be replaced the right way again once you leave it." -p. 124

"She kissed my cheek for the first time I ever remembered, and she told me that if it came to it, I should probably tell my grandfather hello for her. I thought that was sweet, the way she said it like I was just going to visit a foreign city or something." -p. 234
Profile Image for Mari Kaplan.
12 reviews
March 24, 2017
Beyond the prompt, there wasn't much depth or really enticing storyline to this book. Sure- of course a story a kid who has his head chopped off, frozen and then reattached five years later has got to be some great tale, but it was a bit dull. The first few and last few chapters were worth reading, but otherwise, I finished this book fairly unsatisfied.
Profile Image for Jeff Zentner.
Author 10 books2,159 followers
March 19, 2014
From ages nineteen to twenty-one, I lived in the remote outback of the Brazilian Amazon. I had no access to radio, Internet, or television. When I got back to the U.S., it was like I'd been dead for two years. My girlfriend had moved on. There were hundreds of movies and TV shows I’d missed. I didn’t recognize any of the music on the radio. I found out about Columbine, the war in Bosnia, and the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I had to come to terms with a world that I only mostly still recognized.

This is the perspective I brought to this book about Travis Coates--a teenager who's been dead for five years while the world moves on without him. In the sparkling voice he first displayed in his excellent debut, Where Things Come Back, Whaley nails the strangeness of this experience. Travis Coates is a sympathetic (if exasperating) narrator and protagonist. His story is hilarious and moving in equal measure.
I gave this book five stars, not because it’s a technically flawless book--it’s not--but because it tells the story it sets out to tell perfectly.

It is the rare book with a premise so imaginative, original, and yet so plausible. We're already performing face transplants and growing organs in laboratories. We couldn't possibly be far from head transplant technologies (I seem to remember reading, during a fall down the Wikipedia hole, that Russian scientists performed head transplants with dogs in the 1950s). And as with any advance in technology, it will play out against the quiet background hum of people living, loving, and dying. It will have benefits and it will have costs.

Noggin made me think about the human costs of technology. It made me think about the nature of the self--I almost had an existential panic attack during a humorous scene in which Travis holds the ashes of his own body. Like looking in the mirror too long or saying your name too many times.

It made me think about the nature of the soul (SPOILER ALERT: Noggin doesn't tell you where Travis's soul was for five years; you’re on your own there). It made me think about the way the world and time keep unspooling after we're gone. It made me think of the interconnectedness of human relationships, and the way we bump around in this world, sending each other spinning into different directions when we make contact. You know--light, fun, YA stuff. And it does all of this subtly and elegantly, without bombast, pedantry, heavy-handedness, or fireworks, but with the odd dry-humping joke. In the hands of a lesser author, this premise could have been disastrous, but Whaley never loses sight of the human core of this story.

Wherever Travis’s soul was in the five years between his death and resurrection, there is no question where it is once Noggin begins.
Profile Image for Jeremy West.
131 reviews111 followers
March 22, 2014
NOGGIN is a heartfelt story about love, sex, friendship, and family that might just be worth losing your head over. John Corey Whaley's unique voice and serious brilliance will strike a cord and may change your mind about decapitation.
Profile Image for trishna.
10 reviews1 follower
May 24, 2016
even if u took out the sexism, homophobia, biphobia, and rape culture, this would still be one of the worst books ive ever read
Profile Image for Glire.
736 reviews517 followers
December 30, 2014
"You can find ways to be okay with dying, but you can’t fake your way through living."


Cuando Travis se entera que el cáncer que tiene es incurable, toma la única decisión que le da un poco de esperanza: permitir que le corten la cabeza -la única parte de su cuerpo que el cáncer no ha tocado- y la criogenicen.

"Sometimes you love someone so much that going and doing something crazy like having your head frozen and convincing everyone you’re coming back isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds."

5 años después, Travis está vivo de nuevo. En cuerpo que no es su cuerpo, en una vida que no es la que él esperaba; el tiempo pasó para todos, menos para él. Ahora su mejor amigo está en la universidad y su novia está comprometida.

"I couldn’t really see all that much difference between the life where I was dying and the one where everyone had become a stranger."

Esta es una historia que intenta ser única y cómica. La palabra clave es "intenta", porque no lo logra. Tenemos toda esta trama acerca de la criogenización que promete mucho pero que nunca es realmente explorada, dejándonos con otra historia coming-of-age.

Vemos solo de pasada la lucha de Travis contra el prejuicio de la gente, que lo ve bien como un milagro o como una abominación. Mientras que el mayor enfoque se encuentra en como se esfuerza por encontrarle sentido a su nueva vida, ahora que nada es como era.

Toda la trama involucrando a Cate, fue un poco incomodo de leer(?). Es decir me daba cierta sensación de pena ajena, porque sí, su amor era real, pero tras 5 años de ausencia, Cate aprendió a vivir sin Travis. Y por más que ella le dice "ey, seamos solo amigos" el se niega a aprender a vivir sin ella. Asi que todos los esfuerzos de Travis por reconquistarla resultan un poco patéticos pero también conmovedores.

"I had to find her and tell her, show her, that Travis Coates might be mostly ash in some mystery container hidden in his parents’ house, but that the part of him that found its way back would always be incomplete without her."

Durante toda la lectura tuve un nudo en la garganta. Esta es una de esas historias que te hace sentir y al final te dejan un poco drenado emocionalmente y extrañamente insatisfecho. Y no es que pasen cosas particularmente tristes, nada de manipulación sentimental por parte del autor, es solo que tiene un aire melancólico, un aire de pérdida que es difícil que no te afecte.

Así que, si bien tiene sus defectos, Noggin te hace reflexionar.
Profile Image for Debbie.
295 reviews128 followers
April 2, 2014

Noggin is a story full of bad jokes, awkward situations, and horrible puns. And I loved every second of it. I didn't feel like I was reading a work of fiction, instead, I felt as if I were reading a story, my story and my life of how I was brought back to life and forced to live in the present when I'm barely understanding the past. It's weird, confusing, and such a fun ride. John Corey Whaley is an author that I've been waiting for a long time and this will not be the last novel I've read by him.

Unfortunately, there are some downsides to this story. First of all, this whole situation is just too unbelievable and it took me some time before I could really wrap my head around it. No way did a dude get his head chopped off and then come back to life! That's too insane. I understood that Travis is really confused about this whole concept as well yet I still would have liked it if Travis was just as curious about the scientific aspect as I was and other readers will be. It's interesting yet not at all explained which sucked for me.

Nonetheless, I still loved this book. Noggin is full of great, complex characters that are extremely easy to like and relate to. Travis's relationship with Kyle is so heartfelt and awkward. I could easily relate to it and the struggles that Kyle faces to understand everything that's happening not only to him, but also to his best friend. I also liked the writing style. Holy shit, this is the writing that I have been craving for in young adult books. It's so relaxed and casual and makes everything seem like it's happening to the reader and just being told to the reader. I really do need more books written like this because they usually end up to be books that I really enjoy. The best part about Noggin has to be Travis's last holiday before his surgery. It's beautifully described and captivating. Imagine celebrating every single holiday in one day with a group of people you love most in the world? I would want that as my last day alive because it sounds absolutely amazing.

Overall, Noggin is great. Although there are a few unbelievable parts and too little information, the good certainly outshines the bad. I recommend this novel to everyone, especially if you're looking for something light to read with a serious undertone and don't mind a lot of jokes and puns. I envy those people who can easily make jokes out of anything, especially when they don't take life too seriously and can make anyone smile and for me, John Corey Whaley might just be one of those people.
1 review
July 19, 2014
I was torn between rating this book with two or three stars, so it's probably a 2.5 from me. Whaley's writing is a pleasure to read, the characters were colorfully drawn, and there are some genuinely funny moments in this book. But despite an inventive premise, the plot seemed dull and like it was retreading over themes present in many YA books.

The fact that much of the book is spent on Travis's relationship with Cate was particularly disappointing. When Travis wakes up, Cate is now 21 and engaged, and from the first time she appears, it seems pretty clear that she isn't interested in rekindling their relationship. Travis, however, doesn't get the message. He spends most of the rest of the book pining away for her and remembering how improbably perfect their relationship was before. I started losing sympathy for him at some point, and I didn't understand the decision he makes prior to meeting Cate's fiance for the first time.

The plot line involving Travis's parents was another weak spot in the story for me. Although the fact that they got divorced after his 'death' was very realistic, I didn't sense anything weird or uncomfortable about their interactions prior to the part where their split is revealed. I also thought it was unbelievable that Travis hadn't noticed anything since his dad was pretending to live in the house for several months.

Certain parts of the in the book felt like they were trying too hard to elicit an emotional response from the readers -- the flashbacks, Travis's dad's shrine to him, the scene at the graveyard -- and it all just ended up falling flat as a result. At times Travis seemed whiny, which made it even harder for me to connect with him. I'm an adult, so I get that I'm not really the target audience for this book, but the premise was so creative that I guess I was hoping for a storyline that matched.
June 5, 2015
I think that this book should be required reading for every teenaged girl in a Western culture, and after she reads it, her parents/guardian should talk to her about how the protagonist, Travis Coates, is a creeping creeper who creeps, a "Nice Guy", and somebody to cut out of your life at all costs. And that, after the first time you tell a "nice guy" like this "no" and set a boundary, and he ignores it (because it's all about him and his feelings and wants and not about anybody else's rights, feelings, or dignity) that what you do is knee to the balls + face punch, and run far, far away, and do not return any communications. And then, tell a parent and authority figures at school that this guy is harassing you.

Seriously, the epiphany that Travis has in the last 3 pages of the book really feels like an editorial mandate to the author, and it's a half-assed one, because never once does Travis fully realize or own the magnitude of his transgression, or stop to reflect upon his attitude of *entitlement* to another person's time, life, and (by extension) body. Even his epiphany is still all about him.

(If I had been the Cate in this book, I would've called Travis's parents and filed a restraining order about 1/2 way through.)

Noggin has been compared to Catcher in the Rye. Not even close. Travis is no Holden Caulfield, and this book has 1/1000th of the level of depth, insight, and technical chops that make Catcher a must read classic.
Profile Image for William Daza.
39 reviews64 followers
January 3, 2016
Cuando empece a leer este libro me encontré con una historia que al principio me pareció un tanto rara.. Un chico sometiéndose a un proceso de criogenizacion para sobrevivir de la leucemia que lo invadía, le proponen poner su cabeza en un cuerpo sano y congelarse en el tiempo (aqui toma mucha importancia la portada del libro)

Okay, Seguí el libro y el chico despierta 5 años después teniendo la misma edad (16 años) y todos sus familiares y amigos son mayores que el (aquí es donde empieza a tomar sentido las cosas)

El Chico (El cual se llama TRAVIS) se ha despertado de un ''coma'' de 5 años, pero para el fue como tomar una siesta, es consciente de que las personas han cambiado y han madurado pero el aun tiene en su cabeza la idea de que todo puede ser como era antes, mucha gente lo ha superado y en su ausencia han pasado un sin fin de situaciones a las cuales el se debe adaptar.

Este libro nos cuenta de una manera divertida y rara como las personas deben crecer, superar las cosas y de igual manera mantener nuestra esencia. Nos muestra lo mucho que cambian las personas y lo mucho que se interesan por nosotros aunque hayan pasado 5 años.

Me ha encantado el libro, lo recomiendo plenamente, tiene un ingles ligero y se que a muchos jóvenes les puede gustar :D

Si quieren ver mi vídeo reseña (La cual es menos compleja que esta) les dejo aquí el link.
5 reviews2 followers
February 20, 2018
This book was awful. First of all I felt this book was way too slow and wasn’t exciting. Next this book was too emotional and was way too exaggerated. They made Travis look like a little kid and couldn’t deal with anything that was happening. I really advise that people don’t read this because it is a waste of time.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,951 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.