Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Mark Haddon

Fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone has discovered his neighbor's dog has been killed with a garden fork. Who on earth would kill a dog? With a pitchfork? Who even has a pitchfork these days? In the suburbs, no less? A pitchfork?

Anyway, Christopher isn't interested in the mystery of pitchfork--he wants to know who murdered the dog. And you can't blame him, really; I suppose the pitchfork isn't that important. So, after initially being blamed for the murder, he sets out to begin his own investigation to find the culprit. This wouldn't seem too extraordinary, except that Christopher is autistic; he does not understand complex emotions, cannot stand strangers, and takes to groaning and when feeling uncomfortable (which is often). How on earth will he be able to overcome these limitations to solve the mystery at hand?

Have no fear. Christopher overcomes these obstacles (sometimes gracefully, sometimes not so much), and he undertakes his investigation with a fortitude that should inspire any reader. Unfortunately, this is where the book's negative aspects appear. At times the book veers dangerously into sentimentality, and Haddon only just barely avoids becoming gimmicky in places (although others may argue that the entire book is gimmicky). I, however, like the novel's perspective, which is littered with Christopher's digressions on math and logic, his specialties.

Overall, I enjoyed The Curious Incident. It was a fast, touching read that allowed one into the mind of an autistic individual. While the novel has its flaws (the overly sentimental ending is a big one), they do not diminish the work.

In a nutshell: A fast, fun novel that will make you think, even though it is probably not something you will return to again and again (if ever).

Bibliolatry Scale: 4.5 out of 6 stars


Edwin Hesselthwite said...

Just wanted to tell you that I was given Only Revolutions for Christmas, I couldn't resist asking for it despite your advice...

So, thank you for the inspiring reviewing.


Bibliolatrist said...

Awesome! Definitely let me know what you think of it. There's definitely some enjoyment to be had there :)

Anonymous said...

I read 'the curious incident', I think it is a wonderful book and so does the state of Victoria, Australia who have included it in the Year 12 English curriculum. My son studied it this year. It was especially touching to me as my other son is an high functioning autistic. I felt like I got to know him better through the book, it was if he had written it. If anything, it has opened the eyes to thousands of Year 12 students to how difficult life can be for an autistic person.Even if one reader shows some compassion to anyone with a disabiltiy it was well worth it! Thank you Mark Haddon.