“The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time” – Mark Haddon
I have an impressive list of books that I have to read, and the other day I put in a MASSIVE order from Book Depository, and now I have an impressive pile of books that are stacked precariously on top my guitar amp, screaming “Read me! Read me!”.
This was the first book on the top of the pile. I’d wanted to read it since it was mentioned in a lecture at uni, and I thought it would be something a little bit different to the type of books that I would normally read. I was right!
The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time is a murder mystery with a bit of a twist. Our protagonist, Christopher, is a fifteen year old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, who happens upon the corpse of his neighbour’s beloved canine one evening. Christopher doesn’t like the colour yellow, but likes to make lists and knows what kind of day it will be based off what colour cars he sees walking to school. Although he is not great when it comes to interacting with other people, Christopher is brilliant when it comes to Mathematics, puzzles and patterns, and he wants to solve the mystery of who murdered his neighbour’s dog.
Murdered by what looks like a garden tool, Christopher embarks on a quest to find out who the culprit is, questioning people on his street, which then provides him with information that takes him on a journey he’d never imagined. Along the way, he discovers much more than just who murdered his neighbour’s dog. Christopher finds out that certain events in his life are not as they seem, turning his whole life upside down and making him question everything he’s ever known.
The way that this novel is written captures life with Asperger’s Syndrome perfectly. All the chapters are numbered as Prime numbers, rather than the traditional numerical system. It’s also filled with what seems like tangents at the start of the book, where Christopher explains why he likes prime numbers, or explains a mathematical concept. Upon second reading of this book, you are able to see how all of these “tangents” tie into the other half of the story, which is Christopher’s self discovery.
The book itself is easy enough to read. The chapters are short, and the language used is straight forward and perfect for Christopher’s voice. It’s also full of diagrams, and graphs which help to keep the story interesting too. I confess some of the mathematical chapters went right over my head because I am in no way a mathematician! In fact, I am TERRIBLE at maths, and avoid it whenever possible, but it was great that Haddon threw this into the novel, because as a read you’re able to understand why the adult characters find it so difficult to understand and communicate with Christopher.
If you know someone with Asperger’s Syndrome (which I do – My BFF!) then a lot of things in the novel “make sense” and help you to understand the condition better. Even if you’re not familiar with Asperger’s Syndrome though, you don’t miss the vital information – Christopher explains everything! Something I really like was Christopher explaining how he doesn’t like to be touched, and rather than be hugged, his family says “I love you” physically by pressing their hands together, rather than embracing. It touching to see how lives are adapted with Asperger’s Syndrome, and I honestly feel like I understand it a bit more now!
I really enjoyed this book, especially as it’s not a genre I’d normally read. I can now tick that one off the list, and move on to the rest of the pile!
Overall Rating: 3.5/5