Beautiful writing and an odd book!
What really stood out most for me in The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik was the writing. David Arnold has a unique writing style that just pulled me in. Nothing major needed to be happening, but I wanted to read his words.
This is an odd book because Noah is a bit odd. He lives with his parents and sister, Penny. Noah has two real friends, Alan and Val, that he spends all his free time with. They have been friends for awhile and they are very close. Noah dresses in the same clothes everyday and is obsessed with David Bowie. But Noah starts acting a bit off. He fakes an injury so he doesn’t have to swim anymore. It’s like the thought of figuring out college and his life is just too much for him.
Noah has these strange fascinations. They are random things that he obsesses over. One is an author, one is an old guy that walks alone everyday, one is a video of a woman aging, and the other is a photograph that someone dropped. Noah thinks about these things all the time. It almost takes over his whole life.
One night at a party, Noah gets drunk and meets a kid named Circuit. Circuit invites him back to his house and Noah doesn’t remember much from that time. But everything changes then. It’s all little things, but he’s positive that Circuit hypnotized him. His parents are now obsessed with Seinfield instead of Friends, his mom has a scar that he knows nothing about, Alan loves Marvel instead of DC, etc. It’s all minor things that completely changes what he knows. The only things that haven’t changed are his sister, Penny, and his strange fascinations. Even his dog is different.
Noah starts trying to connect to the people in his strange fascinations and find out more about them. He starts walking with the old man, meets up with the musician who dropped the picture, reads more from his favorite author, and starts commenting on the you tube videos of the woman. He thinks that maybe if he can find out more about them, that maybe things will start making sense in his life again.
During this time, Noah spends less time with Alan and Val and it starts affecting all of them. Their friendship isn’t the way it was and Noah realizes that it’s his fault. Those two mean everything to him, but he is terrified of being apart from them for school. This is another thing that changed. They were going to school close to Chicago, but after the night of the party, Val and Alan are talking about school in California. It’s just another thing that makes Noah panic.
A lot of the book is Noah’s thoughts. He is very much in his head all the time and he connects all these random things together in his “concise history of me”. I loved those chapters so much.
There is a twist towards the end of the book and we finally find out what happened to Noah that night. It’s pretty odd, but I ended up liking how it all came together.
While I liked Noah and his strangeness a lot, I found that my favorite characters in the book were Alan and Penny. Alan is just funny and he loves Noah so much. And Penny is adorable. I want a little sister just like her.
“Obsessed with Audrey Hepburn, talks like a middle-aged socialite, dresses like a cracked-out American Girl Doll.”
There is so much to like about this book, but I don’t want to give away too much. I want readers to go into it not knowing much about it. That’s what I did and I was so pleasantly surprised by it. It’s a great book about finding yourself, dealing with the fear of change, and friendship.
I gave this book 4 1/2 stars (rounded up to 5 on goodreads). Thank you to Penguin/Viking for sending me a copy for review.
David Bowie references