The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold
Genre: YA Contemporary, Fiction
Publication: May 22nd 2018 by Viking Children’s Books for Young Readers
Series: None. Standalone.
Length: 432 pages
Format: ARC from Penguin Random House International
No matter how organized I get my room, my records, my books, no matter how precisely I communicate a thing, or how many arrows point to how many objects, in the end I’m floating through space in a most peculiar way.
This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend.
Then Noah → gets hypnotized.
Now Noah → sees changes: his mother has a scar on her face that wasn’t there before; his old dog, who once walked with a limp, is suddenly lithe; his best friend, a lifelong DC Comics disciple, now rotates in the Marvel universe. Subtle behaviors, bits of history, plans for the future—everything in Noah’s world has been rewritten. Everything except his Strange Fascinations…
A stunning, surrealist portrait, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a story about all the ways we hurt our friends without knowing it, and all the ways they stick around to save us.
Huge thanks to my friends from Penguin Random House International for sending me a review copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. This did not, in any way, affect my overall opinion of the book and/or the story.
I’m going to be honest with everyone, as I always am, and tell this straight to everyone’s faces: I knew nothing about The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik when I first heard of it and even until after I read the first quarter of the book. Yes, I read the synopsis for this, and no, sadly, I didn’t quite understand what this book was all about. Nada. The only reason why I wanted to read and promote this is because I completely wanted to support the author. (What point is there in lying about the reason as to why I wanted to read something, right?) And with that in mind, I was completely taken aback by how well thought of this book is. Read on to know why.
Weird Plot = (Maybe) Not For All Readers
As I’ve mentioned above, the whole plot of this book wasn’t the deciding factor for me at all. I have to admit, there were scenes that felt a little blurry to me and this caused for me to re-read some pages, making me unable to read this in a fast pacing. I wanted so badly to get a grip on every single thing that was happening but the idea of Noah Oakman being Under made me feel like I, too, was Under, and I didn’t like that… at first. The confusion and the innate strangeness of the story did grow on me, and I was both relieved and impressed that everything made sense at a certain point of the story. As I kept on reading, Noah’s mindset made an impact on me, allowing for me to see through the weirdness of his story, giving me a different angle from which to watch the story unfold.
Great Friendship and Family Dynamics
One of the reasons as to why I loved this, though, is the plentiful scenes that featured amazing friendship dynamics between friends Val, Alan, and Noah. I loved seeing this trio together and whenever they got together for school or just to hang out, it was almost always a fun time. Seeing how well-knit they were brought me so much joy knowing that a friendship like theirs was attainable and realistic, and the fact that brother and sister Alan and Val was always there for Noah just truly warmed my heart. And towards the ending, I love how the aspect of love and forgiveness played such a vital role in these caracters’ lives, allowing me to come to the conclusion that everything turned out alright for them all, both as individuals and as a group.
And the family dynamics between Noah, his parents, and Penny was also very personal and the way it was written was so heartwarmingly inspiring. Noah had this great bond with all his family members and at first, I didn’t see that. I found his parents to be forceful, and controlling and I grew tired of them as they incessantly made Noah choose a college to attend and avail a scholarship from. At the time, I saw them as these flat, minor characters who were there just to agitate Noah, but in reality, they were so much more than that. Towards the ending, the author wrote such an emotional scene that I couldn’t help but love them the same way I loved Noah. And Penny, Noah’s sister, was just this lovable character who, to some might come across as an attention-seeking kid who craved the spotlight, but she isn’t. Penny is also just your average kid who wants to know her place in the world, and I can only wish that we got more scenes about her and her life at school. That would’ve been great.
Perfectly Wrapped-up Ending
At this point, I’m not really sure if I should write something for the above aspect since I’ve pretty much mentioned everything that I loved about the ending. Again, honestly, I didn’t love the first half of this book. But, as the ending came closer and closer, I saw just how much everything played their parts well to tell a story that’s about acceptance, forgiveness, and what it means to be a son, a brother, and a friend. I feel bad that I wasn’t able to see through all the peculiarity of the story all throughout everything, but I’m more than proud to have felt the emotions that other early readers felt as well.
“The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik has to be David Arnold’s weirdest book yet, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With his trademark main character badassery, the author is able to tell a story that’s entirely fresh, unique, and just plain mind-boggling. It’s true what other early readers are saying about this book. It’s indeed strange, and ambitious, and what makes it very impressive is how well wrapped up everything is towards the end. I might not have enjoyed the story in it’s entirety but with time, I did come to appreciate everything. Featuring great friendships and heartfelt family dynamics, David Arnold’s latest will no doubt wow his fans, both old and new.”
Have YOU read The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik? How was it for you? Tell me all about it via the comments section below!
David Arnold lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with his (lovely) wife and (boisterous) son. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Mosquitoland, which has been translated into over a dozen languages, Kids of Appetite, and The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik. Previous jobs include freelance musician/producer, stay-at-home dad, and preschool teacher. He is a fierce believer in the power of kindness and community. And pesto. He believes fiercely in pesto. You can learn more at through his website and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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