Title: The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik
Author: David Arnold
Genre: Young adult, Contemporary
Pages: 432 Pages
Release Date: May 22, 2018
Rating: ★★★ ½
** I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review**
Goodreads Synopsis: 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 . . .
Spoiler Free Review:
I don’t usually format my reviews like this, but I feel like it is best to separate this review into things I liked, and those that I didn’t. I will start with the things I liked, which I conveniently made a list of while reading.
First off, this book was one of the most modern and relevant books I’ve ever read. It had so many references that I loved and related to! Some of these include: Gilmore Girls, Marvel, DC, social issues such as racial discrimination, privilege, and homophobia, lots of great music, and even a joke about the President of the United States. The modern setting definitely helped me to connect with the book and the main character more.
Speaking of, I had a very love-hate relationship with the main character, but the point he’s at in his life during the novel is very real and I identified with it 100%. There were multiple quotes in this book relating to coming of age and college, with the main character wanting to truly live and discover himself rather than bearing societal expectations.
Even though I had this relationship with the main character, there was one character I absolutely fell in love with! Noah’s best friend, Alan, is super hilarious and scenes with him made me actually laugh out loud! Alan is also a twin, as am I, and I really enjoyed the brother-sister dynamic in this book!
Lastly, I really liked the writing style of this book! David Arnold has a very similar writing style to John Green in the way that his writing can be so poetic on one page and then use words like “rando” on the next. It was just very diverse writing for one novel; parts were poetic and sophisticated and others were casual and conversational. The book is also formatted into 8 parts rather than chapters, and within each part there are little sections. What I loved is that each little section, whether a paragraph long or a few pages, has a line that basically just relates to what that section is about. For example, similar to the general writing style, the little line beginning the section will either be a funny conversational line or something very poetic that expresses a message from that section. I’ve never seen that in a book, I’m used to normal chapters, so it was really enjoyable!
Now, onto the things about this book that I disliked. First, the age of the main character REALLY bothered me. I know it’s not that big of a deal, but if you’re going to have such a realistic, modern novel, age the character appropriately. Noah is 16 in this book yet he is a senior in high school, looking at colleges, and one line in the book even says his parents installed an app onto his phone for Lyft when he was !!15!! so he wouldn’t drink and drive. WHAT??? I know this is common in other countries, but he was living in the US, where high school seniors are 18 and the legal drinking age is 21. It just bothered me so much and at times made the narration feel as though it wasn’t truly coming from Noah. It was just very odd how Noah could go on a deep tangent about life and then, when describing dialogue, say “and Alan was all..”… Yeah, really bothersome.
Next, there were only two characters, Alan and Noah’s sister Penny, that I consistently enjoyed. The characters just seemed to be very all-over-the-place rather than just having one personality? I found myself loving characters at times and hating them at others.
Lastly, I found the overall message of the book to be lacking and the climax to be severely disappointing. I enjoyed reading the book, but I failed to see the point or the message that was trying to be conveyed. When I finished I was just left feeling like… okay? I was certainly surprised by the climax, but it just didn’t change anything. There really was not a big lesson that was taught aside from like maybe don’t be a bad friend? I never saw the main character as a bad friend to begin with, so even this message doesn’t make much sense to me. I can’t explain this much without spoiling, but I hope my description makes sense.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, but just did not get the message that was trying to be conveyed. I was left with a feeling of “that’s it?” not in the way that I didn’t think the ending wrapped things up, but rather that I didn’t see any significant change or point to the novel. I’d recommend it if you enjoy John Green without the whole nerdy boy loves mysterious girl trope. I would also recommend this book to people who like David Bowie, mysteries, and coming of age novels.
Again, I’d like to thank Penguin Teen for sending me a copy of this book to review!
This book will be released on May 22nd! If you’d like to view or buy a copy, use one of these links!
Thank you so much for reading my review! I really hope you enjoyed it, and if you want to chat about this, feel free to comment! 🙂