BookPage Teen Top Pick, April 2014

When 16-year-old Travis Coates, dying from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, donated his head (the only part of his body not ravaged by cancer) to be cryogenically stored at the Saranson Center for Life Preservation, he imagined being reinstated in 100 years, alongside jet packs and other futuristic gadgets. But when technology advances sooner than expected, he “wakes up” five years later with the body of another teen who suffered from a brain tumor. In Noggin, by Printz Award winner John Corey Whaley, Travis recalls the initial days, weeks and months of his second chance at life.

Although Travis feels like he just briefly went to sleep, he’s now an overnight celebrity and must face the reality that life went on without him and that nothing will ever be the same again. His parents grieved. His best friend, Kyle, who once revealed that he’s gay, is hiding his sexuality in college. Cate, his girlfriend and first love, has moved on and is engaged to be married. Yet Travis remains the high schooler he was—or has he, too, changed? Although he has a new body, it’s seems the world keeps rejecting him.

A graceful combination of raw heartbreak and biting wit (including plenty of head puns) guides Travis through this existential search for life’s meaning and survival. With the help of old loves and new friends, he learns to accept Travis version 2.0 and discovers that life may be even harder than death. While the novel’s premise may be straight out of Hollywood, Travis’ voice could not be any truer. Fans of John Green will welcome this smart tearjerker.

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