I was wondering through Borders quite some time ago and when a colorful, bright orange book cover with a curious upside-down dog cut out in the middle of the book caught my attention.
I picked it up and read the back cover and decided to buy it and put it in my ‘to read’ stack. Well I couldn’t ignore the book any longer, the orange cover beckoned me.
I have to say this is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon bordered on the odd, eccentric side but that’s what made it so great.
The story begins with the death of a neighbors dog (Wellington) and is told from young Christopher’s perspective. Christopher knows every prime number, all the countries in the world, he hates being touched and hates the color yellow and above all he relates better to animals than people.
It took me a while to understand what was going on here, at first I thought Christopher was just a young child but he is really autistic. The story is brilliant and told with such unique insight into the human psyche, it is truly a smart and ingenious read!
For me the little details of the novel were what made it really shine. Every chapter is a prime number and the little pictures, diagrams, and schedules which are drawn/written by Christopher really demonstrate his perspective. The reader is immediately drawn into this poor boy’s mind and uses Chrisopher’s reasoning to try and make heads or tails of what ‘murder’ of the dog Wellington. His perspective is so logical it is difficult to NOT identify with the narrator easily and use his rational. Eventually though (almost before you know it) the audience realizes what is going on around them and begins picking up on the subtle social cues that Christopher cannot which is what makes the story that much more moving.
The audience is still reading from Christopher’s perspective but at the same time the audience sees how tragic it must be to be constrained by an autistic disorder—he has the mind of a small child trapped in an adult world—the effect is beautiful. The novel (though it sounds heavy and it is) is balanced by the little idiosyncrasies that endear Christopher to the reader.
For example, this is what the narration style is like—Christopher decides it is up to him to discover who killed the dog Wellington. After having a ‘super good day’ (seeing four red cars in a row makes it a super good day) he decides he will be a detective and detect things like Sherlock Holmes because he likes Sherlock Holmes (but doesn’t like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle because he believes in the supernatural) and his favorite Sherlock Holmes book is the Hound of Baskervilles because the detective story has lots of things needing detection and it uses ‘red herrings’ and he likes ‘red herrings’ because they are red and because they are clues in the investigation—perhaps clues and ‘red herrings’ can help lead him to Wellingtons killer and solve the mystery like Sherlock Holmes.
He goes on to quote something Dr Watson said in the book: ‘his mind…was busy in endeavouring to frame some scheme into which all these strange and apparently disconnected episodes could be fitted’, Christopher rationalized this by stating: “And that is what I am trying to do by writing this book. Also Sherlock Holmes doesn’t believe in the supernatural, which is God and fairy tales and Hounds of Hell and curses which are stupid things…” (74).
The beginning will pull you in immediately…..I love Christopher’s rational here: “I decided that the dog was probably killed with the fork because I could not see any other wound in the dog and I do not think you would stick a garden fork into a dog after it had died for some other reason, like cancer, for example, or a road accident. But I could not be certain about this” (1). I had to laugh a little even though the death of Wellington was tragic…..I couldn’t help but laugh at his observations. It was very cute but what makes it even more witty and dry is that you don’t really know if he is serious or not. As the story goes on the reader realizes that he is autistic and yeah—-he’s serious LOL :). It’s little cute things like this that really make the novel what it is.
This book is absolutely worth reading. It is touching and a comical and an inspiring adventure that anyone who considers themselves ‘well read’ cannot do without reading. This is a book that I could read over and over again and still enjoy it. If you are looking for a smart, witty, eccentric, comedic, touching, detective novel then you have found it here. This book has everything—a murder, love story, humor, drama, and little details which make it all the more fun to read. Pick it up today, submit to the calling of the bright orange book cover (red= good day, yellow=bad day…..orange= good and bad mixed together…..I am willing to bet the book cover color was not made by mistake :), just a thought but I digress) anyway….READ IT, you will NOT be sorry!
- Paperback, 226 pages
- Published May 18th 2004 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (first published January 1st 2003)
- ISBN 1400032717 (ISBN13: 9781400032716)
This book counts toward: NA
- Hosted by: NA
- Books for Challenge Completed: NA
Recommendation: 4 out of 5
Genre: Contemporary Lit, Literature