Monday, October 5, 2009

Review by JD: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

Written and reviewed by John posted by Shellie

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(note the interesting differences in cover design – US/UK/Canada)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

by Mark Haddon

ISBN: 1-4000-3271-7

Pages 221: paperback

Vintage Books, 2003

This is the story of Christopher, an autistic boy who finds his next door neighbor’s dog dead. The dog has died under mysterious circumstances and Christopher decides to solve the crime. He is a bright boy with a sharp mind and he loves mathematics. He also loves animals but he’s not sure about people. He cannot understand human emotions at all, and he hates to be touched. He also hates the color yellow.

Mark Haddon has written the book in the first person, as though Christopher is telling his own story. And as Christopher says, “this is a murder mystery novel”.

What an excellent book! It’s tough to believe that this Haddon’s first novel. It is clever, witty, sad, insightful, hilarious, and so much more. You see the world though Christopher’s eyes where everything is interpreted by his logic and reasoning. His logic is very structured and things ought to make perfect sense, but the world doesn’t quite work that way.

This book pulls you in from the very first paragraph. You follow Christopher as he tries to figure out what happened to the dog, and as he has to cope with his own difficult family circumstances. At one point he has to make a journey into a strange city all on his own, and the way that Haddon/Christopher describes this is incredible. He is fearful of strangers and new experiences and cannot stand noise. What for most people is mundane is a terrifying ordeal for him as he tries to overcome sensory overload. You find yourself really rooting for Christopher and hoping that everything works out for him.

This book gives an amazing insight into how some autistic minds work, but it’s not a heavy read. Quite the contrary Haddon has a wonderfully light touch and this is the funniest book I’ve read in a long time.

A delightful read. I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone! This gets four stars from me.

Amazon links are below and listed respectively – US/UK/Canada

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time/ The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time/ The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Thoughts contrary or concurring, internal discussions between commenter's, and links to other reviews are all welcomed and encouraged.

22 comments:

Charlie said...

This book has been around quite a while, and I've debated reading it for even longer. Based on your review, Shellie, I think it's time for me to read it. Thanks.

logankstewart said...

This is a book I've wanted to read for a while. Nice review.

Nicole_Hadaway said...

I completely agree with your review -- this is a wonderful book. And I'm not usually into literary fiction such as this, but reading from the point of view of an autistic boy, how he looks at the world and how he thinks, was very insightful and amazing. The author is very talented. A great book.

Thanks for the review, Shellie!

Andrea said...

I found Curious Incident to be so moving and so sad. I was sad for Christopher through most of the book and remember thinking that you can tell a lot by a person by how they treated him. Excellent review!

John D said...

Hi Charlie,
Thanks for the comment. It's not often I say this, but I think this book is a sure-fire winner for pretty much everyone. I hope you enjoy it. Cheers,
John

John D said...

Hi Logan,
Thanks for the nice words. I hope you enjoy it - Im sure you will.
John

John D said...

Hi Nicole,
Thanks for the comment. Have you ready anything else by Haddon? Cheers,
John

John D said...

Hi Andrea,
Thanks for the kind words. You make an excellent point - how people react tells you an awful lot about them. I wonder if he intends to write a follow-up? I'd love to find out how Christopher copes after leaving school.
John

Linda said...

Fantastic book. Great review!

Okie said...

I've heard good things about this book and keep thinking about picking it up.

Amanda said...

I've heard mixed reviews about this, but I'm still looking forward to it.

John D said...

Hi Linda,
Thanks for the nice words. By the way - that is a great avatar!
John

John D said...

Hi Okie,
Well, the fun can't quite compare with watching your spider video, but it's still very good!
John

John D said...

Hi Amanda,
I'm a bit surprised to hear about the mixed reviews. This feels like one of those rare books that has something for everybody. I'll be interested to hear what you think about it.
John

Kerri said...

I really enjoyed this book. I suggest picking up Haddon's second book 'A Spot of Bother'. It was also an excellent book and quite different from this one.

John D said...

Thanks Kerri,
I'll definitely seek out this book.
John

DCMetroreader said...

I've heard of this book, but never read it. Thanks for putting it back on my radar of TBR as in to be read (that is if I ever plow through my stack of TBR as in to be reviewed).

Diane said...

I can still remember listening to the audio version of this book when it first came out. It was really terrific.

Great post.

John D said...

Hi DCMetroreader,
Well, thankfully I can now put this onto my pile of RARABOTS.
John


P.S. As in "read and reviewed and back on the shelf".

John D said...

Hi Diane,
Thanks for the nice words. I can imagine this would make a great audio book. Though it would miss out on some of Chistopher's drawings and symbols that you see in the book.
John

Charlie said...

I apologize, John, for thanking Shellie for the review. I retract that thank you and transfer it to you.

I'm thinking about learning to read in my spare time . . .

John D said...

Hi Charlie,

Consider the "thank you" fully retracted and transferred, and absolutely no apology necessary. Regards,

John (a.k.a. Shellie)

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