[Review] Noggin – John Corey Whaley



Author: John Corey Whaley

Publication Date: April 8th, 2014

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Number of Pages: 356

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Sci-fi (ish)

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


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.


I had heard that this book was not as exciting as the blurb says it would be so I wasn’t really expecting too much.

Noggin is unique. It talks about the influence of social media and popularity in a different way. For Travis, fame is received when he is resurrected and given a second chance at life. For him, learning to live five years later is difficult especially when the world is yelling at him to appreciate it.

I found that some of the ideas in the book weren’t really fully outlined. Fame was one. Noggin tells us that fame is not easy but it can be fun. Travis enjoys using his neck scar to impress others. He loves the attention. Yet he does not like that people see him as a figure to look up to. He receives many fan letters that call him an inspiration and quite frankly, it makes him uncomfortable. He doesn’t like that they look up to him (partly because of some of his insecurity) and he doesn’t think that he is  a formidable figure either. I felt like he never fully came to terms with the idea that he was going to be known for being one of the first to successfully come back to life.

Travis annoyed me. I felt that although he was supposed to be 16, he acted much much younger. Doesn’t cancer usually cause people to act more mature? In Travis’s case, a second chance at life was something that he didn’t appreciate nearly as much as he should have. Apparently this special snowflake believes that the whole world should be put on standstill for his head. He doesn’t realize that everybody had to mourn his death while he was off in dreamland. He’s a very immature character and to be honest, I felt like he never grew out of it.

Some reasons here. Highlight to read

He stalks his ex-girlfriend who has a fiance. He bluntly tells his ex-best-friend that he can’t just change his sexuality (which is true but he could have said in a less intrusive way). He gets mad at his parents for divorcing while he was dead.

I found his ex-girlfriend, Cate, also immature. She’s 21 and acts like a teenage girl. Sure she might have been emotionally unstable, but she does not understand how to send a clear message to Travis. The entire time she naively believes that if they can still be friends when he is creepily trying to date her. It gives Travis false hope because she leads him on.

Romance is so so weird. It’s not even like it is a romance – you already know that Travis and Cate aren’t going to get back together. What I didn’t like was the stalking.

Travis is naive (as I have mentioned before). He stalks his ex-girlfriend and nobody really tries to stop him. Shouldn’t she put a restraining order on him? Have I mentioned that she has a fiance? Travis must have lost some of his brain cells when he was reawakened because I’m pretty sure that if his ex-girlfriend has a fiance, HE SHOULD BACK OFF. Nevertheless, he doesn’t and his ex let’s him hang around her after he has kissed her numerous times.

Noggin was a pretty boring read and very close to a standard contemporary novel. It wasn’t by any means bad, but I can say that it was a more unmemorable read.

2.5/3 Stars

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