September 28, 2011

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

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WARNING: Possible Spoiler. Read with caution.

The first half of this novel was amazing. It started at the right foot, introducing us to Christopher Boone who has an autistic spectrum syndrome, and his quest to find Wellington, his neighbour's dog's, murderer. It continued to be intriguing as the reader begins to get to know who Christopher is exactly. For example, his little quirks, his views, his love of red and prime numbers, and his hatred for the colour yellow. We get to know him and we get to glimpse how exactly he works. He is intelligent and practical, but he functions solely with logic and not emotion. It is the first time I have read a novel with such a different type of protagonist. I was hooked instantly.

I loved how the chapters were prime numbers and not numbered typically like other novels. I enjoyed how the novel seemed completely written by Christopher Boone, even the Appendix at the end of the book. I really enjoyed the consistency in the novel. It also interested me how Christopher, with his autistic tendencies, would figure out who killed Wellington. I even began to make up a way he would solve it and who the prime suspect was, etc., etc. Once I hit the middle of the novel though, I was extremely disappointed, not necessarily because of the content or writing, but because I was expecting something completely different from what it was. I didn't expect a full-blown family drama. The reader is unceremoniously told who killed Wellington and it almost comes as a shock because the reader is not expecting to be told who the culprit is already. I was disappointed because the last half of the book was about Christopher making his way to London, being scared and going back home instead of being the awesome adventure of Christopher Boone trying to find a murderer.

This is, however, a small little thing compared to the big picture. I can still appreciate what the author has done with this novel. He has created something completely real, something that does happen, a character that exists right now. Christopher is real. At least he seems real to me. The way the novel is written makes you believe that it really is written by a Christopher Boone, and I guess that makes it more heartbreaking. The way Haddon has downplayed the emotions in the book, never really describing how someone looks as they are speaking, what they sound like, etc. gives the reader the feeling of what Christopher sees every day. It broke my heart to read the way everyone around him acted, how his family falls apart at the seams under all the stress of his being autistic. It hit me that wherever he went, the pressure of taking care of him would break any family who was not strong enough to handle it. And this is what happened; once with his original parents, and again with his biological mother's new partner. It is a reality, however, that many autistic children face. It is genuine and sincere, and I was left almost dumbstruck at the end at how apathetically it ended.

It is an eye-opening, creative, and highly entertaining book, yet it does not let you understand the protagonist. Never do you completely and utterly agree and nod your head at what Christopher says; you are only able to watch Christopher from a farther place and see what he sees, agreeing sometimes and others not. And, I guess, in this way, Haddon has done a great job of writing this novel. He has taken you inside a person who could exist, and who you could encounter walking down the street and has forced you to face them even though it may make you feel uncomfortable. However, I am still disappointed that it was not, initially, what I expected. Nevertheless, I do recommend it a great deal to anyone who can deal with a character you cannot relate to, and those who can tolerate no emotional growth, because really, that is not what Christopher's story is about, nor is it what Haddon had in mind when writing this novel.

View all my reviews


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