Review by: Xander
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A brief synopsis:
Noah Oakman’s back injury has kept him hesitant about swimming, but that’s not stopping him from making the most of the summer before senior year; hanging by the pool with his best friend Alan and his twin sister Val, and watching Gilmore Girls, episode after episode, sprawled out on his bed. He is having a blast, and would like to continue his blissful marathon but when Alan threatens him with spoilers, he reluctantly follows them to a party. A wild time ensues at the party, and Noah leaves with a kid named Circuit, who is cryptic and intriguing and wants to help Noah find “a new sweater”. When Noah leaves Circuit’s house, he is
a) noticing things that were different from before–his mom’s cheek has a scar, Alan is a Marvel fan now, and his dog is not acting like himself.
b) realizing that a few select things are staying constant–Old Man Goiter, The Fading Girl, a picture dropped by a local musician, a chapter illustration in chapter 17 of a favorite book.
Noah’s life is changing before his eyes and his recurring dreams haven’t been helping his confused self. He’s drifting further away from his friends and he’s going to have to choose a college before his parents drive him up the wall.
Told in concise histories, passage of times, and exquisite prose, Noah’s story *fascinates* and enthralls through connections, epiphanies and stellar prose. David Arnold captivates and shows once again that he is capable of masterfully weaving a story full of prevalent themes in the most unexpected of ways. With NOAH HYPNOTIK, David shows readers that he is here to blow minds, and if you aren’t a David Arnold fan, you are missing out.
I don’t even know where to start.
Let’s start at the beginning. When I first met David Arnold, it was March of 2015 and Mosquitoland, his debut novel, had just been released. It was an absolute blast meeting him, and I knew that I had to read Mosquitoland. A little later I read it and absolutely fell in love with it. It was my favorite book that year and it launched itself onto my all-time favorites list. I am still mad at myself to this day for not reviewing it, but maybe it’s time for a reread. Going into this book I clearly had high expectations, and I am thrilled that they were met/exceeded and I am so satisfied with the beautiful book I just read.
From the first few pages of this book, I was already hooked. I knew it was going to be another masterpiece. What can I say? It was a strange but fascinating read! (haha get it?) The format, short chapter lengths and the characters really meshed well with each other and made for very effective storytelling. I love it when books use short chapters to move the story along and change topic, it breaks up the blocks of text into bite-sized portions that don’t force you to stop in the middle of a chapter. The plot of this story is never boring; I was entertained the whole time. There are some chapters I love that, as weird as it sounds, connect things to each other, and they constantly blew my mind with facts and made me think.
David Arnold really has a way with words. His writing is fantastic; it’s witty, descriptive and has depth. It has that second level of reader engagement, the ability to speak to the reader and hook anyone. This book is a page-turner, and not because it’s so fast-paced; it’s a genuinely fun ride reading this book.
The characters in this book are so well developed and personable. I really enjoyed Noah’s character; he wears the same outfit every day (he has 10 of the same Bowie shirt) and doesn’t feel like a fake character, but rather someone who could go to my school. His relationship with his friends were another aspect that I found interesting; you don’t really see friends tell each other they love each other in young adult books. I’m not talking about a relationship kind of love (there’s a lot of that in YA), but a “you’re my best friend and I’m glad I have you in my life, I love you”. These friends really care about each other and it’s heartwarming seeing them being around each other because you know that they are connected on a molecular level. Their friendship isn’t on the surface. This development of the friends really helps the reader see the shifts in the dynamic as Noah grows more distant in sections.
Another part of the story I loved was the Strange Fascinations, especially the (sadly fictional) author Mila Henry. At every section divider, there is a quote from her, and a lot of them are very powerful; she is a really cool fictional person and I would love to read her books. The connections in this story continue to resonate with me and this book just feels like a good friend to me after reading it. The only slight problem I had was about (small spoiler) a plot point in the second half of the book, but I think that was more out of frustration because of (big spoiler)the whole “it was all just a dream” thing than me actually not agreeing with the plot.
If you are looking for a whimsical but grounded, strange but fascinating, and exhilarating read, this book is for you. Read it, and tell me what you think! I’d wholeheartedly say it’s worth your time.