The first book of 2019, done! I’ve loved David Arnold’s other two books – Mosquitoland and Kids of Appetite – and this is no different. The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is strange and unusual and fascinating.
First off, Noah is a character I can get behind. He loves David Bowie (hence “Strange Fascinations” and the revamped paper-back cover coming out soon), loves his two best friends and parents and little sister, wears the same outfit every day, and has no idea what he wants to do with his life. He’s a champion swimmer who doesn’t actually want to swim in college, despite the numerous offers he’s received.
His life is stagnant. He isn’t unhappy, but he isn’t happy. Everything changes when he meets a strange boy that doesn’t go to his school in a library of a party he doesn’t want to be at. This isn’t a meet-cute, swept off your feet kind of change. Literally everything changes.
Noah wakes up and finds that his mother has a scar on her face, his parents have a different favorite TV show, his best friends’ passions have changed slightly, and their dog is much more coordinated. Nothing life-changing, but still different.
This book chronicles Noah’s discovery of these discrepancies, as well as his attempts to remedy them. It feels like he’s learning his life all over again.
This book isn’t a quick read at 432 pages, but I never felt like turning away. Once you think you know everything there is to know, a curveball comes out of nowhere. The major twist near the end was unexpected and well-done; a twist for the sake of the story, not just to twist.
Arnold is skilled at creating deep characters and unique scenarios that keep you guessing. What would I do if I woke up and my roommate liked country music? Or if my mom was a blonde?
Overall, I’d recommend putting this near the top of your list – especially as it is going into production for a movie. Until then, let’s boogie to some Bowie!