Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

“Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.” –Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: June 31, 2003
Source: My local public library

Synopsis:

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.

My Thoughts:

I have to admit that I really only picked up this novel because it is one of the books on the BBC’s “The Big Read” list which I am working my way through. It’s not that I thought it would be a bad book per say, I just am not generally enthused about reading novels that are 1) written in first person, and 2) narrated by a teenage boy. Needless to say, I didn’t have high hopes for this one. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised from page one.

As mentioned in the synopsis, the novel begins with Christopher discovering that a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, has died under suspicious circumstances. Since Christopher feels a very strong attachment to animals (unlike his fellow humans), he sets out to discover the truth behind Wellington’s death. He documents his search for the truth in a journal, which becomes this book, and decides to cast the story as a murder mystery.

From the very beginning of his search, Christopher runs into obstacles that push the limits of the strict set of rules by which he lives his life. For instance, he interviews his neighbors to gain more information about the night of Wellington’s death, but this makes him very uncomfortable because he doesn’t like talking to strangers. As the novel progresses, Christopher’s search for the truth becomes more complicated, and he is increasingly forced into contact with a human world that he doesn’t understand. However, through his search he gains self-confidence and self-reliance which helps him cope with the disorder of everyday life.

My favorite part of the book by far was Christopher’s narration. In a world where everyone is concerned with being politically correct, I found him to be delightfully honest and very funny. I also enjoyed “getting inside his head”, and watching him progress throughout the novel as he struggles for independence in spite of the limitations of his condition.

At its core, this novel is a coming-of-age story and not a murder mystery. To be frank, the mystery of Wellington’s death quickly takes a backseat to the concerns of the human world. While I enjoyed reading about Christopher’s interesting and heart wrenching journey, I did feel a bit frustrated at times because I was reading a drama that had been billed as a murder mystery. Additionally, I thought the ending was anticlimactic and felt very rushed, almost as if it were an afterthought. I realize this loose ending is probably intentional on Haddon’s part, and is meant to show Christopher’s new-found ability to cope in an uncertain (and equally unfinished) world. Despite these intentions, the ending left me unsatisfied, and I find I have more questions than answers.

Overall, this is a very unique book with a lot of heart. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a great work of literature (and I question its inclusion on the BBC list), but it does give excellent insight into the mind of an autistic person. I really did enjoy this book (especially the mathematical puzzles), and I would definitely recommend picking up a copy.

What Others Had To Say:

The Novel World

My Review In Four Lines:

  1. Rating: 3/5 stars
  2. What I liked: Christopher’s honest and funny narration
  3. What I didn’t enjoy as much: The anticlimactic ending
  4. I would recommend this book for: People interested in gaining insight into an autistic mind

***

Linking up with Blonde…Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Note: I did not receive any compensation whatsoever for this book review.
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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. robyn
    May 25, 2012 @ 13:30:44

    took me a while to find your comment box-but got here!
    i was in two minds about this book-I really felt it got far too much attention and hype in the press.hmmm.

    Reply

  2. exlibrisheather
    May 25, 2012 @ 15:25:39

    Yes I agree. I did like the book, but after all the hype I was expecting it to move me a little bit more…

    Reply

  3. victoria
    May 25, 2012 @ 17:25:40

    it definitely sounds interesting;i think i have seen this around other blogs too 🙂

    happy weekend!

    Reply

  4. Shoshanah
    May 25, 2012 @ 19:02:21

    I remember my mom reading this book a few years back and really enjoying it. She told me it was one I should pick up, and while I do think it’s one I’d enjoy, I still haven’t gotten around to reading it.

    Reply

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