Monday, June 16, 2014

John Corey Whaley's NOGGIN Grabs Your Attention with a Laugh, Holds on to it with Wit and Soul

"Listen -- I was alive once and then I wasn't. Simple as that. Now I'm alive again. The in-between part is still a little fuzzy, but I can tell you that, at some point or another, my head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado."

Yep. Best first paragraph I've read in a long while. NOGGIN is awesome. It sounds like it's going to be a comedy. And yes, it's funny. But, it's also sweet, thought-provoking, witty, and sad.

Travis was dying of leukemia at sixteen years old when he was approached by a doctor who said he could freeze him until they find a suitable donor body for him. This meant that they would need to store his head until such time arose. That brings us to the "my head got chopped off" part of the plot.

Travis figured it would be decades before he woke up, so he said goodbye to everyone and died / went to sleep. When he wakes up it's only 5 years later. Travis is thrilled to jump back into his old life again, but soon finds out that 5 years is just enough time for his friends, particularly his girlfriend, to move on without him.

The book begins as simply witty and interesting and grows into something meaningful and thought provoking. This type of medical procedure doesn't really seem all that far off into our future*, so it feels authentic to consider the emotional ramifications of leaving your life for a while and coming back later. Time stood still for Travis, yet it forged ahead for everyone else.

Travis must figure out a way to deal with the changes and appreciate life. Will he be able to make a new life for himself while still hanging on to part of his old life? Will he be "worth saving?"

I really enjoyed this book. Travis is a wonderful, deep, realistic character. His friend Hatton is hysterically funny. He's reminiscent of any Anthony Michael Hall character from the 80's teen movies - in the best way ever.

Here's the trailer, which doesn't really tell you much, but the quotes are awesome.

*Unless you're a doctor or scientist and then, maybe it feels different. ;)