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.
|Publisher:||Penguin Young Readers Group|
|Sold by:||Penguin Group|
|File size:||19 MB|
|Note:||This product may take a few minutes to download.|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Learn more at davidarnoldbooks.com and follow him on Twitter @roofbeam and Instagram @iamdavidarnold.
Read an Excerpt
that sadness feels heavier underwater
I’ll hold my breath and tell you what I mean: I first discovered the Fading Girl two months and two days ago, soon after summer began dripping its smugly sunny smile all over the place. I was with Alan, per usual. We had fallen down the YouTube rabbit hole, which was a thing we did from time to time. Generally speaking, I hate YouTube, mostly because Alan is all, I just have to show you this one thing, yo, but inevitably one thing becomes seventeen things, and before I know it, I’m watching a sea otter operate a vending machine, thinking, Where the fuck did I go wrong? And look: I am not immune to the allure of the sea otter, but at a certain point a guy has to wonder about all the life decisions he’s made that have landed him on a couch, watching a glorified weasel press H9 for a bag of SunChips.
Quiet, and a little sad, but in a real way, drifting through the Rosa-Haas pool—I fucking love it here.
I would live here.
For the sake of precision: the Fading Girl video is a rapid time-lapse compilation of photographs clocking in at just over twelve minutes. It’s entitled One Face, Forty Years: An Examination of the Aging Process, and underneath it a caption reads: “Daily self-portraits from 1977 to 2015. I got tired.” (I love that last part, as if the Fading Girl felt the need to explain why she hadn’t quite made it the full forty years.) In the beginning, she’s probably in her early twenties, with blonde hair, long and shimmery, and bright eyes like a sunrise through a waterfall. At about the halfway mark the room changes, which I can only assume means she moved, but in the background, her possessions remain the same: a framed watercolor of mountains, a porcelain Chewbacca figurine, and elephants everywhere. Statues, posters, T-shirts—the Fading Girl had an elephant obsession, safe to say. She’s always indoors, always alone, and—other than the move, and a variety of haircuts—she looks the same in every photo: no smile, staring straight into the camera, every day for forty years.
Always the same, until: changes.
Okay, I have to breathe now.
I love this moment: breaking the surface, inhale, wet hair in the hot sun.
Alan is all, “Dude.”
The moment would be better alone, to be honest.
“That was like a record,” says Val. “You okay?”
A few more deep breaths, a quick smile, and . . .
I love this moment even more: dipping beneath the surface. Something about being underwater allows me to feel at a higher capacity—the silence and weightlessness, I think.
It’s my favorite thing about swimming.
The earlier shots are scanned-in Polaroids, but as the time lapse progresses and the resolution of the photos increases, the brightness of the Fading Girl begins to diminish: little by little, the hair thins; little by little, the eyes dim; little by little, the face withers, the skin droops, the bright young waterfall becomes a darkened millpond, one more victim in the septic tank of aging. And it doesn’t make me sad so much as leave an impression of sadness, like watching a stone sink but never hit bottom.
Every day for forty years.
I’ve watched the video hundreds of times now: at night before bed, in the morning before school, in the library during lunch, on my phone during class, in my head during the in-betweens, I hum the Fading Girl like a song over and over again, and every time it ends I swear I’ll never watch it again. But like the saddest human boomerang, I always come back.
Twelve minutes of staring at your screen and watching a person die. It’s not violent. It’s not immoral or shameful; nothing is done to her that isn’t done to all of us, in turn. It’s called An Examination of the Aging Process, but I call bullshit. That girl isn’t aging; she’s fading. And I can’t look away.
There it is, the inevitable shoulder tap.
Time to join the land of the breathing.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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 l
I love the kinds of books that are unabashedly weird, that ask you to come along on a ride and not ask too many questions from the first page. Noah Hypnotik is absolutely one of those stories and it pulled me in from the first chapter. David Arnold is one of my favorite YA authors writing right now because his books are so packed in with little one-liners that will make you laugh, cry and hope. They seem to go off in a zillion directions in the beginning and then magically come together in a way that will have you racing page after page by the end. If you want a book that has delightfully strong and voice-y writing, beautifully written friendships that aren't perfect but real and just the right balance of heart and humor, I think you will love this book. This is a vivid contemporary about seeking an alternate reality and discovering the interconnections between personal and larger histories, about figuring out you are by discovering what you don't want to lose and seeing the strange in the everyday. Also, David Bowie. So much David Bowie. And it's perfect.
What an utterly fantastic book! David Arnold is a wordsmith. Each sentence was perfectly crafted and wove an intricate and gripping tale of a boy who gets hypnotized and must figure out his reality and find himself along the way. Main character Noah was so quirky and relatable. His "strange fascinations" were such a unique aspect of this book. I loved the side characters, unique and unexpected plot, and exquisite writing style of this book. The pop culture references peppered throughout the story were just the cherry on top of this perfect sundae of a book! Mosquitoland and Kids of Appetite were such good stories that I worried David Arnold wouldn't be able to match them, but he did a really outstanding job bringing the story of Noah and hypnosis to life. Add this book to your must-read list because this is one you don't want to wait to read!
What a strange, fascinating, amazing book that, indeed, only David could have dreamed up. David's books are a roller-coaster of emotions. I laughed out loud, I cried, I got angry and confused. This book is amazing and brilliantly strange.
Noah Oakman is a 16 year old living in Iverton, Illinois, a fictional suburb of Chicago. He had been a competitive swimmer until he faked a back injury to stop swimming instead of revealing to anyone his true reasons for wanting to stop. Convinced by his best friends Alan and Val to go to an end of summer party, Noah goes, gets rather drunk, waits in the library inside of the house, and runs across Circuit, an odd boy Noah’s age, who convinces Noah to follow him home. Once there, Circuit attempts to hypnotize Noah, but before Circuit can complete the hypnosis, Noah runs out of the house. As he leaves, he notices something strange. The dog that had been on the porch had been a border collie…but now it’s a golden retriever. Over the next several days, Noah begins to realize that several things that he had always known to be true had suddenly changed. Alan’s extensive DC collection has been all replaced by Marvel. Instead of his parents always watching the show Friends, they are watching the show Seinfeld. The only things that have seemingly not changed are Noah himself and what he calls his strange fascinations. Noah embarks on a journey to figure out the mysteries behind his strange fascinations, figuring that if he can solve those, he can figure out why they stayed the same. This book is brilliant. This is the first time that David Arnold has taken a contemporary and put a speculative twist into it, and Arnold does masterfully. The emotions that he is able to convey through his writing put you right into the confusion of Noah and how nothing seems to make sense anymore, where your history is suddenly rewritten. This is one that I didn’t want to end.
The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is hilarious, and whimsical, and bizarre, and quirky and reading it was a wild ride that I questioned at times, but ultimately fell in love with. And yet, if I had to describe this book in just one word, it would have to be STRANGE. (I mean the title already tells you that, but yes, THIS BOOK IS STRANGE.) Let’s break this down: THINGS I LOVED ABOUT THIS BOOK: 1. David Arnold’s writing: If David Arnold’s writing wasn’t as quirky and bizarre and just in general, as STRANGELY ELOQUENT as the plot itself, this entire book would have fallen flat for me. I absolutely loved the way he found connections within the most unconnected things, brought out the teenage experience and made me laugh out loud and shake my head in wonder at the same time. THIS BOOK HAS SOME SERIOUSLY PECULIAR YET STUNNING WRITING. 2. All the Concise Histories: This could probably be a part of David Arnold’s writing (^), but I thought it was worth mentioning separately. I absolutely loved how this book’s narrator, Noah, created these ‘concise histories’ connecting himself to the world at large through seemingly random dates and pieces of information. 3. Alan and Val: IF THESE AREN’T THE BEST PAIR OF BEST FRIENDS/ TWINS EVER, I DON’T KNOW WHO IS (Par only to Fred and George Weasley.) I loved Alan and Val as individuals, as siblings and even as friends to Noah. They were all kinds of awesome. 4. Penny (AKA THE MOST ADORABLE SISTER EVER): I ABSOLUTELY ADORE SEEING LITTLE SIBLINGS IN BOOKS. And Penny, with her Audrey Hepburn phase, her overuse of the word ‘darling’ and her daring, up-for-anything attitude. THINGS I THOUGHT COULD’VE BEEN BETTER: 1. NOAH: This is probably the most unfortunate part of the book, because Noah is the MAIN CHARACTER. Unfortunately, he was the thing I liked least about this book. SURE, it’s a coming of age, finding-yourself kind of book, but Noah ‘Hypnotik’ was a SELF-CENTRED AND I COULD NOT BRING MYSELF TO LIKE HIM. He was so wrapped up in his own pain and ‘problems’ and his ‘strange fascinations; that he failed to look at the consequences for: a) His little sister (LEAVING HER ALONE IN A PARKING LOT OF A BAR FOR 2AM SO HE COULD TALK TO A WASHED UP MUSICIAN?) b) His parents (make two GENUINE, KIND HEARTED ADULTS who struggle a little to make ends meet PAY FOR FLIGHT TICKETS TO NEW YORK TO ‘VISIT’ A COLLEGE HE HAS NO INTENTION OF GOING TO? JUST SO HE CAN MEET SOME RANDOM WOMAN? c) His best friends (Ignoring, ghosting and the works) 2. NOAH: See above^ 3. NOAH: Kindly refer to #1 So, that’s it. IF I had like the protagonist better, this would definitely have been a five star read for me, but at the end of the day, I really did like The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik.