This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend. Then Noah → gets hypnotized. Now Noah → sees changes—inexplicable scars, odd behaviors, rewritten histories—in all those around him. All except his Strange Fascinations . . .
The Strange Fascinations of Noah HypnotikFeatured
I must confess that thinking back to Noah Hypnotik makes me strangely emotional. It felt relatable even though my mind's inner workings are nowhere near as smart as Noah's. He is funny and weird and interesting. Honestly, reading this book is how I think it would be if I somehow could read/hear a boy's mind. Perhaps that is it though. This book transported me into the mind of a boy who spent so much time obsessing over "strange fascinations" that always related to loneliness, and all his feelings and doubts I felt 100% in my own heart.
However, this book is not what I would call sad. It is an all-around fun and whimsical adventure that shines throught the wonderful relationships Noah has and builds. I loved how he is best friends with two amazing twins, Val and Alan, and that they refer themselves as a "delicate triangle". I particularly enjoyed whenever Noah and Alan were together since their interactions and love for each other is truly pure. Cannot forget to mention how much I adored Penny! Such a sassy and bright character, could genuinely spend days in her company and never get bored.
There's so much to this book and even after finishing and having time to process, I still cannot find words to convey all the amazing details found within its pages. It has drawings! Constant mention of Gilmore Girls and Breakfast at Tiffany's! David Bowie! It is seriously packed with so many fun references that made me smile the entire time (except, you know, when it got deeply emotional).
This is my first book by David Arnold but it certainly won't be my last! Captivating, amazingly weird and unputdownable, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is the book you have to read in the near future, if not now. You won't regret it!
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
Noah’s concise histories. Noah writes these things he calls concise histories which is like six degrees of separation with historical events, famous people and their birthdays and uncle’s names and their dogs leading to, of course, Noah. It’s really fascinating how he connects himself to these things. It’s like him saying, “This is me. This is my place in the world.”
Relatability. Noah is not the most likable main character out there. He is on the egotistic side. He is hyper self-aware that often, he sees himself more than he sees others. The plus on this is the book provides Noah’s freeflowing personal insights and opinions. It’s a fodder of teen angst and blabber. Any teen who will read this book will surely find and pick up something that he/she can relate to.
Strange fascinations. Speaking of relatability, having an addictive personality and being a perennial people watcher myself, I can so relate with Noah’s four strange fascinations which are basically four strangers he is strangely obssessed about.
It has drawings. There is a part where Noah, while contemplating the passage of time, passes time while drawing things procured by his mind. There are actual drawings on the book and who doesn’t love books with actual drawings?
Chapter titles. I’ve mentioned this before in the blog, I love books with catchy chapter titles.
Pop culture references from music (David Bowie, Radiohead) to TV shows (Friends, Gilmore Girls). David Arnold said that the book is his love letter to Bowie, so it’s a plus if your also a Bowie fan like Noah.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In the book, Noah’s sister, Penny, is passionate about this film. And guys I have to confess, I AM PENNY. I have its iconic lines memorized. I sing Moon River at every opportune time.I adore Audrey Hepburn. Like Penny, I find it hard to reconcile how a problematic film as this is a thing that I love. And then came my salvation when Noah said this: “I think it’s okay to recognize a thing’s faults and still like that thing.”
Friendship. The “delicate triangle” friendship among Noah and the Rosa-Haas twins is definitely squad goals but the Noah-Alan duo has a special nook in my heart. They are just so earnest and funny together. And then I found out why they click with such authenticity when I saw this EW exclusive where David Arnold and fellow YA author, Adam Silvera, revealed that the friendship of Noah and Alan is based on their real-life friendship.
Cool Parentals. Aside from his friends, Noah has a cool set of parents to support him.
Mila Henry. She is Noah’s favorite author. Her book, “Year of Me”, is one of of Noah’s strange fascinations. Soundbites of her interviews and excerpts of her book are inserted between parts of the book. Her personality and her works are really fleshed out and she fascinated me so I looked her up and found out that she is just a fictitious person made up by David Arnold and I am wowed, because all that work for your main character’s favorite author is really wow.