Can you imagine waking up to find your head is stuck on a different body?
Noggin, by John Corey Whaley, is a stunning science fiction story about Travis Coates, a boy with cancer, who wakes up to find his head is attached to a different body. When his cancer becomes teminal, the 16-year-old has a decision to make. Stay alive for a few more weeks or have his head chopped off, only to be frozen and reattached to a different body. Now, five years later, Travis is alive again and everything is the same. Well, almost. His head is on a completely different body and he’s still 16. To add to this, Travis realizes that his girlfriend is engaged and his best friend has forgotten he’s even back on this earth. Travis, a new town hero due to his new body, struggles to find his way in high school. Again.
Whaley has taken a tough topic, cancer, and given it a comedic twist, shaping the characters into relatable people. Whaley not only tells the saga of a a teen battling with cancer while discovering his new self, but also adds witty and passionate parts that make the book lively and full, like you’re talking to Travis himself. For example; when Travis is talking to Kyle, his best friend, about his how weird his situation is, “You know things are weird when you start appreciating your farts,” he says. This is an example where Whaley has taken a sci-fi topic and added humor, constructing an accessible plot.
I am not a huge fan of science fiction, so when I was assigned to read a sci-fi book, I was discouraged. But once I read the blurb on the back, I was hooked. Whaley slips sci-fi elements into the novel, not an overwhelming amount, but enough to still add to the story line. The book is told by Travis, so you can be engrossed in the story and his experience. Overall, this a pleasurable read, poignant and humorous, and I would recommend it to anyone thirteen and up looking for a feel-good novel.
Noggin by John Corey Whaley. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!
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