When Travis was 16, he became a part of a medical experiment he never really believed in. With terminal cancer and just sick of being sick, he let someone cut off his head and freeze it, with the promise that maybe in less than 100 years, they'd be able to bring him back. He --- along with his parents, his best friend and his girlfriend --- figured this would be the last goodbye. But now, five years later, he's awake, with a brand new body; he’s the second person in the world to be brought back.
Starting high school for a second time is daunting enough, but this time Travis has to do it without his best friend Kyle and his girlfriend Cate, who have aged five years without him. They're college students now, with new friends, new interests and, in Cate's case, a new fiancé. While everyone around him insists he should realize things between him and Cate are over, Travis can't help but feel he was brought back just so they could be together again.
"The real heart of the book is the hang up on the past --- the feeling that if you could just remind someone you loved how things used to be, old feelings would quickly return."
NOGGIN is an incredibly imaginative way to examine the universal feeling of longing to return to the way things use to be. While a 21-year-old desperate to get back to the love and clarity of a high school relationship isn't strange, this novel asks the question, “what if there were no memories and no experiences to separate you from that not so distant past?”
Far from predictable, NOGGIN contains a few twists to keep readers guessing, but the real heart of the book is the hang up on the past --- the feeling that if you could just remind someone you loved how things used to be, old feelings would quickly return. It also focuses on larger issues, like how to deal with the weight of other's expectations, and how to get a friend to be true to themselves.
NOGGIN is a novel about trying for a future very different from the one you planned, and learning to be ok with the change. Funny and relatable, fans of Whaley's first novel WHERE THINGS COME BACK won't be disappointed.
Reviewed by Molly Horan on April 10, 2014