EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


June 1, 2014

Lose your head for 'Noggin'

“Noggin” by John Corey Whaley

c.2014, Atheneum Books for Young Readers $17.99, 352 pages

People in love do goofy things.

They dance and sing in videos seen by millions. They fill classrooms with balloons, pay skywriters to put messages in the clouds, they even hire orchestras to accompany their professions of undying amour.

You’ve probably done some wild things in the name of love, too, but one boy wins the contest. In the new book “Noggin” by John Corey Whaley, Travis lost his head.

Five years ago, Travis Coates was dying.

He hadn’t been sick for very long, but the cancer was aggressive. The usual treatments weren’t working and while chemo and radiation weren’t painful, saying goodbye to his parents, his girlfriend Cate, and his best friend Kyle hurt a lot. It really sucked – so when the Saranson Center for Life Preservation came up with a solution to his death, Travis was intrigued.

The field of cryonics was growing, he was told, and it was possible that, if he’d give up his life (and his head) just a little early, there was a chance of coming back from the dead later on, maybe in a few years.

So there he was, Travis-not-quite-Travis, five years later – though it felt like just three weeks. He was still 16, technically speaking, but he was also 21 years old, kind of. It was all made possible because his body wasn’t originally his; it once belonged to a boy named Jeremy Pratt who died of brain cancer, and that took some serious getting used to. So did being bigger and physically fitter. It was weird.

But, body aside, Travis was the same guy he was before his death: same sense of humor, same taste in movies. Everything else, though, had changed: Kyle, who’d once confessed to Travis that he was gay, was dating girls and Cate was engaged to someone else.

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