Ghost Man Walking Or Can You Only Live Twice? - "Noggin" Review

Monday, June 8, 2015

Title: Noggin
Author: John Corey Whaley
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
"Travis Coates has a good head…on someone else’s shoulders. A touching, hilarious, and wholly original coming-of-age story from John Corey Whaley, author of the Printz and Morris Award–winning Where Things Come Back.
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 Travis 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 sixteen, but 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, there are going to be a few more scars.
Oh well, you only live twice.”

My Review

I couldn’t put this book down. I had been reading another YA book beforehand, (“Private Peaceful” by Michael Morpurgo, check it out!), and while it’s really good – and a whole lot shorter than “Noggin”- I’ve been taking forever to get through it. What’s so good about “Noggin” is the concept – a boy dying of cancer decides to have his head cryogenically frozen in hopes of being brought back to life sans his failing body and attached to someone else’s- and the character’s voice. Travis is an everyman type. He doesn’t have anything special about him except the whole being-brought-back-to-life thing. The usu. There’s also not a lot of plot but what kept me reading is that I wanted to know more about his story.

He’s awaken 5 years after he “died” at sixteen and to him, it’s like he just took a quick nap. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone else in his life, all of whom he finds are very much changed. His girlfriend and best friend are no longer children but 21 year olds and his parents have had to grieve him for half a decade.

The second part of the concept- what would happen if the people we loved and lost came back to is another awesome aspect to “Noggin.” Personally speaking, my dad died three weeks before JoRayne’s birthday and mine. I’d give anything to have one conversation with him. If he were to come back though he’d find a very different world than the one he left and now two adult daughters. It’s a similar story for Travis. Those around him find it difficult to find a place for someone they had to let go 5 years prior. It’s especially true for his then girlfriend. 5 years later she’s engaged to someone else and Travis finds it hard to let her go. For him, he closed his eyes with a girlfriend, why wouldn’t she continue to be so now that he’s back? He’s very focused on this in a very realistic teenagery way. My only complaint with the book is that he’s a bit too focused but again realistic. Eventually I started to think, “Dude she doesn’t want to date a child, take the hint” but I also felt his pain equally. The author paints a nice picture of both sides.

The book is relatable beyond the concept too. If you’ve ever longed for a time/place or people from your past, a moment you’d like to keep frozen in time forever, you’ll understand Travis. It’s not a sad book but it is bittersweet. Please give it a shot. I can’t recommend it enough.

Words To Live By

"’I’m not sure I can do this anymore.’
'Do what?’
'This. Exist. Be here like this with everything so fucked up.’
'Hey Travis? I don’t think it really matters if you know how to exist.’
'What do you mean?’
'I don’t think any of us do.’
'Then what are we doing?’
'I don’t know. We’re just meandering.’”


A fast read with a fascinating concept and wonderful characters.
author image


Tracy is a history/film fan who loves to read YA, historical and contemporary fiction. She’s also a sucker for a sad tale. Harry Potter (“Harry Potter”), Peeta Mellark (“Hunger Games”), Nathaniel Blake (“Little Men”) and Daniel Landon (“Catcher, Caught”) are her literary boyfriends. She’s also the resident Ravenclaw and librarian.


  1. I'm glad to see that you really liked this one! I'm a huge fan of this book. It's just so strange and nutty! I loved it.
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

  2. Glad to hear you liked it too! Such a good book. Thanks for commenting :)


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