Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Weekly Book Review: Noggin

Click to find this book in our catalogue.
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Released: April 8th, 2014
Genre: Young Adult / Light Science Fiction


"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."

[from John Corey Whaley's official website.]


I teared up no less than twenty times over the course of this book. Converted into normal person figures, that equals out to about 2 cpb (cries per book). The focus of this book is not on the event of Travis's Frankensteinian resurrection, but the emotional consequences of that event. For Travis, that means facing the long and painful process of dying only to come back to a world that's moved on without him. For his family and his friends, it means saying goodbye to Travis, dealing with his absence, and suddenly finding him back in their lives. The book posits that, like most anything that marks big changes in a life, resurrection would not be a wholly joyous experience. 

Travis is happy to be alive, of course, but he wants to live the life he left behind when he let those doctors cut off his head. His old life is just far enough outside his grasp to assure his failure, but close enough to get his hopes up. It stops him from moving on, and in his desperation to have everything back to the way it was, he tries to reverse what moving on his friends and family have done.

It's easy to sympathize with Travis, and just as easy to sympathize with his loved ones. I will admit to getting annoyed with his panicked attempts to win back his girlfriend's heart, but my reaction to them makes them no less understandable. At the same time, Cate's pained reactions to these are even more so. 

Don't get me wrong: the tears might flow, but this isn't a depressing novel. Just as the book examines the ugly side of living again, it pauses every once in a while to show that there are beautiful moments even in the midst of dying. Not to mention the many pluses of living again. 

Like, you know . . . living again.

The science fiction elements might be closer to fantasy than true science fiction. It's never quite explained how the doctors were able to graft Travis's head onto his body donor's neck. The book simply asks you to accept its conceit, and the rest of the book is so engrossing that I had no trouble doing exactly that. 

Read if you're even slightly interested in Young Adult fiction and you don't mind getting the pages a little wet.

You should also read:

The Fault in Our Stars

No comments:

Post a Comment