These reviews have been copied from the New York Public Library’s Website – http://www.nypl.org
LJ Reviews Newsletter
This long-awaited sophomore effort from the Printz Award–winning author of Where Things Come Back (2011) plays on similar themes of absence, return, and family. Teenaged Travis is dying of cancer when he and his family are offered one last hope for life: freeze Travis’s head and await advances in cryo-science. No one is more surprised than Travis when he wakes five years later attached to the body of a 16-year-old donor. All the while adjusting to his new physique, he learns that everyone in his old life has moved on: his best friend is in college, his for-mer girlfriend engaged, and his parents less than forthcoming about their own recent history. The catchy title and Ken doll–inspired cover lets the reader know this tale will contain more than its fair share of humor, but only those unfamiliar with the author’s earlier work will be surprised at its heart. Within this far-fetched yarn, Travis’s emotional journey will feel familiar to any young adult who has returned home from college or the military to discover that nothing feels the same.
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PW Reviews 2014 January #3
Like baseball great Ted Williams, Travis Coates has his head surgically removed and cryogenically frozen after he dies (of leukemia at age 16). Unlike Williams, Travis is a fictional character, and five years after his death, technological advances allow doctors to attach his head to a donor body that’s taller and more muscular than the original. Whaley’s second novel (following his Printz-winning Where Things Come Back) is far more concerned with matters of the heart than with how head reattachment surgery would work. Travis awakens to restart where he left off—sophomore year—but everyone he knew has moved on. Best friend Kyle is struggling through college; former girlfriend Cate is engaged to someone else. As only the second cryogenics patient successfully revived, Travis is in uncharted territory; he’s “over” high school, but not ready to be anywhere else. Travis’s comic determination to turn back the hands of time and win Cate’s love is poignant and heartbreaking. His status in limbo will resonate with teens who feel the same frustration at being treated like kids and told to act like adults. Ages 14–up. Agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Apr.)
Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal
SLJ Reviews 2014 March
Gr 9 Up—Travis Coates, 16, is dying of cancer, so he accepts an offer from a cryogenic group to have his head removed and frozen with the hope that it would be attached to another body in the future and he could be reanimated. Five years later, he “wakes up” with a new body and is still 16. There are a few minor problems with his new life-he is a celebrity/freak and gets more attention than he wants, he has to get used to a body that has different abilities than his old one, and he has to go to school with kids he doesn’t know. The biggest problem is that Travis’s best friend and his girlfriend are now 21 years old and have moved on with their lives while he feels like he has simply taken a nap. Cate is engaged and not interested in in a relationship with a teenager. Travis is obsessed with the idea that he can win her back and won’t accept her repeated “no.” He tries various means to convince her that he’s still the one for her: some hilarious, some touching, some inappropriate, but all definitely sophomoric. The premise of the story is interesting although far-fetched. The author does a good job of describing the emotions and reactions of all of the characters, but Travis’s fixation on Cate becomes tiresome and a plot twist at the end feels like it was thrown in just to make the story longer.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC
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Booklist Reviews 2013 November #1
Travis Coates has lost his head—literally. As he dies from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, his head is surgically removed and cryogenically frozen. Five years pass, and, thanks to advances in medical science, it becomes possible to reanimate his head and attach it to a donor body. Travis Coates is alive again, but while his family and friends are all 5 years older, Travis hasn’t aged—he is still 16 and a sophomore in high school. Awkward? Difficult? Puzzling? You bet. In the past, the two people he could have talked to about this were his best friend, Kyle, and his girlfriend, Cate. But now they’re part of the problem. Kyle, who came out to Travis on his deathbed, has gone back into the closet, and Cate is engaged to be married. Stubbornly, Travis vows to reverse these developments by coaxing Kyle out of the closet and persuading Cate to fall in love with him again. How this plays out is the substance of this wonderfully original, character-driven second novel. Whaley has written a tour de force of imagination and empathy, creating a boy for whom past, present, and future come together in an implied invitation to readers to wonder about the very nature of being. A sui generis novel of ideas, Noggin demands much of its readers, but it offers them equally rich rewards. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Whaley’s sleeper debut, Where Things Come Back (2011), won both the Michael L. Printz Award and the William C. Morris Award, so readers will be eagerly awaiting this second effort.
Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.
The Horn Book
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Fall
Losing his battle to terminal cancer, sixteen-year-old Travis opts to have his head stored cryogenically, until some point in the future when medical technology is able to attach it to a new body. That day comes just five years later, but much has changed. Readers will find it easy to become invested in Travis’s second coming-of-age–brimming with humor, pathos, and angst.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2014 #2
Losing his battle to terminal cancer, sixteen-year-old Travis opts to have his head surgically removed, stored cryogenically, and restored to life at some point in the distant future when medical technology is able to attach it to a new body. That day comes sooner than anyone thinks, just five years later, but so much has changed. Adjusting to his new body and his unwanted fame are the least of his worries. Travis’s best friend Kyle, who had come out to him, has now gone back into the closet; his girlfriend, Cate, is now engaged to somebody else; and his parents’ relationship is not as healthy as it seems. Whaley’s sophomore effort eschews the complicated narrative structure of Where Things Come Back for a more straightforward one; and the premise isn’t the most original, with variations ranging from Peter Dickinson’s classic Eva (rev. 7/89) to Mary Pearson’s recent Jenna Fox trilogy. But readers will find it easy to become invested in Travis’s second coming-of age — brimming with humor, pathos, and angst — and root for him to make peace with his new life.
Jonathan Hun Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.
Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
VOYA Reviews 2014 February
Sixteen-year-old Travis Coates, dying of leukemia, agreed have his head removed and cryogenically preserved for future re-animation. Five years later, Travis awakens after having his head reattached to a sixteen-year-old donor body. Instantly a media sensation, Travis must suddenly cope with the loss of five years of his life and the addition of five years to everyone else’s lives. While Travis is stuck repeating his sophomore year in high school, his best friend is now in college and struggling with his sexual identity. Many things have changed, as technology, fashion, and popular culture have left Travis behind. Worst of all, his girlfriend is now getting married to someone else. He even begins to wonder if having been re-animated was a mistake, as he struggles to exist with a new body, new friends, and a new life. The world has moved on; now Travis needs to find the strength to move forward. Whaley’s sweet and raunchy first-person narrative provides a thought-provoking look at the notions of self-awareness, the nature of identity, and the angst of a very special teen. The lively, conversational style will engage teen readers in search of an unusual, but relatable, character. At times hilarious and heart-wrenching, Noggin, with its eye-catching cover art, belongs in all library collections serving young adults.
—Jamie Hansen. 5Q 3P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.