Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Preview…If you’re looking for a read that can be completed in a single sitting or can be put down and resumed at will, then, reader, meet Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”. What makes this book fantastic is not intriguing plot twists or award-winning prose, but rather the character study of its narrator. Christopher Boone is a 15-year-old with autism. He views the world differently from you or me. Christopher derives comfort from logic, order and mathematics, while being touched, seeing too many yellow cars or meeting new people can be monumentally challenging.
Our hero begins writing his own book (this book) at the urging of his school teacher. One evening, he finds his neighbor’s standard poodle lying in the street, pierced clean through with a garden pitchfork. Needing to know the circumstances surrounding the dog’s death, so that he himself may feel safe, he puts on his detective hat and works toward solving the mystery of who killed Wellington? Christopher must draw on unknown stores of bravery as he interviews his neighbors in regards to the crime.
During his investigations, he unwittingly stumbles upon an even bigger mystery. His mother, who presumably died of a heart attack two years prior, may still be alive. He and his pet rat, Toby, embark on a journey to find her, one that takes him far away from the world he knows. He gets into trouble at a few points and must escape a persistent police escort, a train headed straight at him as he rescues his rat from the rails, and a mind-dizzying array of advertisements that just cannot be ignored.
How will a boy who thrives on order and fears the unknown make his journey safely? What really happened with his mother, and why had his father lied to him all of this time? Even more interestingly, what are Christopher’s quirks that help get him through the day successfully? How would he view a situation differently than someone else might? What does our hero make of the shocking answers to these mysteries? The answers are worth finding out, if you have an afternoon, or a few snatches of time here and there, to spare.
You may like this book if…you know someone with autism or a similar disorder; you enjoy mathematical puzzles; you enjoy a nontraditional hero; you are interested in the strain placed on caregivers; you like dissecting and contrasting logic from emotionality; you really like dogs and need to understand the “curious incident”; you want to read a book that is empowering for people with disabilities; you’d like a quick and easy read
You may not like this book if… you prefer an exciting plot to an unforgettable character; you have a hard time relating to a character who shows very little emotion; you don’t want to know how every signpost or advert Christopher saw looked; you don’t appreciate random digressions; you really like yellow or brown or drive a car that is yellow or brown.