Good evening readers and fellow bloggers! I hope you are having a lovely week so far!
In today’s post I am reviewing a book that had been on my TBR for a number of years before I finally picked it up in June – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. I read the book within two days, which to my mind speaks volumes about how much I loved it. It has a unique narrative and character perspective, which is the reason I wanted to read it in the first place. For readers unexperienced with Asberger’s Syndrome, it is a real insight into the perception of someone who has it and the difficulties that come along with it.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
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.
Christopher has such a unique way of looking at life. He doesn’t understand social cues and hates being stuck in a crowd. Despite being a remarkably intelligent young man, who at fifteen is taking his A-Level in Maths, there are elements of his personality that remind you just how endearingly childlike he is.
The neighbour’s dog Wellington is murdered and Christopher’s carefully controlled world spirals into chaos. He resolves that he is going to solve the murder, despite his father’s insistence on keeping his nose out. He finds himself discovering far more than he anticipated and embarks on a journey that pushes his boundaries to the limits.
By the end of the narrative, Christopher has matured in his own way. He still battles with the Asberger’s, but he endures the discomfort and steps outside of his comfort zone in order to uncover the mystery that presents itself in his own life. It’s a difficult experience for him, but he emerges on the other side a wiser boy, better equipped to experience some of the wider world. One step at a time, perhaps, but he has broader horizons.
In terms of the narrative, I think a very fine balance was achieved to complement the personality of Christopher. The overall cohesiveness of the narrative reflects Christopher’s older and more developed side. He is able to write about a subject with clear ideas and without wandering too far astray. His recollection of events and conversations is remarkable too. There are times, particularly with Christopher is under stress, that his literacy regresses a little. The sentences can become simpler and more childlike in their focus.
One quote from the book has stuck with me because it is completely true: –
Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.
I love Mark Haddon’s portrayal of such a unique character. As a reader, you cannot help but will Christopher on when he is struggling. We take every step of the journey with him and watch him grow into the young man he is due to become. His faultless logic on topics allows us to see things from a completely different and refreshing point of view.
I loved the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time! It is definitely a book I will revisit and read again.