The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – Book Review
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – Reviewed by Stacey
Author – Mark Haddon
Publisher – Vintage
Pages – 280
Release Date – (Reprint Edition) 31st March 2004
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.
Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened.
Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.
Meet Christopher John Francis Boone, 15 years old and has Aspergers syndrome. He lives in Wiltshire, England with his father Ed. He doesn’t like loud noises, crowded places, and the colours yellow and brown, as these colours mean that he is going to have a bad day.
At 7 minutes past midnight, Christopher finds Mrs Sears’s dog, Wellington, dead in her front garden. He was lay on his side with a garden fork sticking out of him.
Everyone suspected that Christopher had killed Wellington, but he loves animals and would never hurt them. He decided that he was going to become a detective, like Sherlock Holmes, and find out who really killed Wellington. He needed somewhere to write down all of his information, so he wrote this book.
With a child on the autistic spectrum, I could fully understand Christopher’s behaviour. Mark Haddon had clearly done his research into the condition. From not allowing his food to touch, to not understanding other peoples emotions – all perfect examples of how autism can affect a persons behaviour and actions.
The story is narrated from Christopher’s perspective, as this is his book that he wrote about his life. Everything written in it must be true as he doesn’t know how to write fiction!
I loved Christopher, and his logical view of the world, and the inability to tell lies, along with the way in which he portrays the world. He is a lovable young man. He tells you exactly what he’s doing and why. I like a character who gets right to the point, rather that skirting around issues.
The book is quite an emotional book at times, even-though Christopher doesn’t understand emotions. There are also lots of laugh out loud moments, including times where you probably shouldn’t laugh, but the way they are told by Christopher will have you laughing anyway.
What I found most remarkable about this book is that it gives you an insight as to what it is like to live with autism, not just from the person with the diagnosis, but how people have to learn to adapt to living with someone with the condition.
I first read this book years ago, and then when my middle son was diagnosed I re-read it and I found that it was far more helpful in understanding the condition than any reference book has ever been.
One of the little side notes which I want to add is that I liked how the chapters were all prime numbers, something that Christopher loved.
I had the pleasure of watching the adaptation on stage of this book, just before Christmas 2015. It was amazing and if you have loved the book I can guarantee you will love the stage version.
Reviewed by Stacey
Mark Haddon is a British novelist and poet, best known for his 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. He was educated at Uppingham School and Merton College, Oxford, where he studied English.
In 2003, Haddon won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and in 2004, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Overall Best First Book for his novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, a book which is written from the perspective of a boy with Aspergers syndrome. Haddon’s knowledge of Aspergers syndrome, a type of autism, comes from his work with autistic people as a young man. In an interview at Powells.com, Haddon claimed that this was the first book that he wrote intentionally for an adult audience; he was surprised when his publisher suggested marketing it to both adult and child audiences. His second adult-novel, A Spot of Bother, was published in September 2006.
Mark Haddon is also known for his series of Agent Z books, one of which, Agent Z and the Penguin from Mars, was made into a 1996 Children’s BBC sitcom. He also wrote the screenplay for the BBC television adaptation of Raymond Briggs’s story Fungus the Bogeyman, screened on BBC1 in 2004. He also wrote the 2007 BBC television drama Coming Down the Mountain.
Haddon is a vegetarian, and enjoys vegetarian cookery. He describes himself as a ‘hard-line atheist’. In an interview with The Observer, Haddon said “I am atheist in a very religious mould”. His atheism might be inferred from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time in which the main character declares that those who believe in God are stupid.
Mark Haddon lives in Oxford with his wife Dr. Sos Eltis, a Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, and their two young sons.
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