on September 15, 2005
As both an author and father of a child with Asperger's, I was drawn to this book to see if Haddon could truly capture the unique brilliance and absent social skills of an autistic boy. Not only does he succeed at the task, he adds a healthy dash of humor while avoiding the easy trap of pathos a lesser author might have fallen into. The book is stunning in its accuracy of how those with autism view the world and- just as important- how the world views them. It is this last viewpoint that elevates the book to more than just clever, because we see through Christopher's literal-minded eyes the duplicity of the "normal" world, the world that all assume must be superior. In a way, Haddon's book reminds me of that great short story "Gimpel the Fool" by Isaac Bashevis Singer, a story of a simple man who believes all the lies he's told. In the end, it's not those who tried to trick him, but Gimpel himself who's revealed to be the wisest one for remaining firm in his belief that goodness will prevail. So too does Christopher prevail, his detective work unveiling the truth and overcoming all the futile attempts to thwart or dismiss his meticulous investigation.
I don't know if I'll ever write a book with an autistic character, but thanks to Mr. Haddon, I feel like it's already been done for me.
on May 1, 2009
In Mark Haddon's amazing first novel, we meet fifteen year old Christopher Boone. Now, Christopher is no normal fifteen year old. He is obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, doesn't like people touching him, and detests the colours yellow and brown. He is also an idiot savant.
Christopher lives with his father in Swindon England. His mother has been dead for two years though he can still remember her. Christopher has a difficult life, but his father is trying to keep things together as much as he can. What Christopher doesn't know, however, is that his life is about to change drastically.
"It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears' house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream. But the dog was not running or asleep. The dog was dead. There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog."
Christopher is able to relate better to animals than to people. As he holds Ms. Shears` dog in his arms, Christopher makes the decision to investigate what happened to the dog. He begins to write a book, the book we are holding. "This is a murder mystery novel," he says, though it is certainly not a conventional one. What Christopher finds out, however, may be more than he can handle.
This book is absolutely incredible. I was able to finish it in two days and I wished there was more. Not only is "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" one of the most wonderful books I have ever read, it is also one of the most creative. The entire narrative is told in Christopher's voice and follows his thought patterns. There are math puzzles riddled through out, information about space and stories about Sherlock Holmes. Through the entire book, Christopher is able to weave a story that is part mystery, part coming of age story and part puzzle.
What I found so engaging about the entire book is that it is all a puzzle. There is more going on than the death of the dog, as we soon find out. In order to have the mystery solved, there are a few other pieces of plot puzzle that had to fall into place. It's intelligently written and our narrator, Christopher, is the clearest voice I have heard in fiction in a long time. He engages you in the novel, pulls you into his story and doesn't let go until the book is done. You will probably want to read the book for a second time. It is just that good.
Despite the puzzles, the math problems, the mystery, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" is a wonderful book full of humor and true to life emotion. One page will have you laughing out loud and the next page will have you teary eyed. It's wonderful to read a work so full of emotion and life; it seems as if Christopher could jump off the page.
If you haven't read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," read it. Your life won't be the same afterwards.
on May 25, 2006
Mark Haddon's real-life experience with autistic children allowed him to craft this masterpiece by providing the perspective of a young autistic teenager's mind. Christopher's why of thinking - and consequently, his actions - make logical sense, but because he lacks a normal person's ability to make intuitive connections or understand the unspoken, Christopher has to rely on the imperfect set of rules he's learned about human behavior. Haddon is a subtle and sensitive writer, leaving it to us to draw the conclusions that Christopher can't. I thoroughly enjoyed Christopher's often poetic digressions on mathematics, religion, astronomy, and cosmology, which helped bring his character alive and provided humor as well as food for thought. This is a book that I highly recommend to everybody - it is not only an interesting read, but also a great learning experience. For the same reason (educating entertainment) I also recommend a series of 3 children's books titled "Why some cats are rascals"
on February 11, 2004
If having autism could be demonstrated quite literally, this book is it! I have known many individuals with autism over the last 30 years and I saw many of them in the character of the narrator, Christopher. Christopher's character is the essence of the person with autism, who wants the world to be well-ordered and logical. He does mathematical equations in his head to get calm and I wish that would work for me!
I loved reading Christopher's thought processes thoughout the book. Christopher decides to investigate who murdered Wellington, the neighbor's dog. His father tells him to mind his own business and not investigate. But Christopher thinks about what Sherlock Holmes would do and investigates anyway. Christopher reasons that most people who kill others usually kill someone they know and are close to. He then reasons it would not unusual to be murdered by someone in your family on Christmas Day!
This book is a work of art and it provides pathos, wisdom and understanding to the curious world of people with autism in the daytime and the nighttime.
This is one of the most original and spellbinding novels I've read in years. It is written from a perspective of an autistic teenage boy in an incredibly convincing way. The book starts as a murder-mystery, and although the murder of a dog may not sound like the most pressing crime that you need to read about, the reader is quickly drawn into the story. What makes the whole situation unique is precisely the autistic perspective of the narrator. The familiar world that we all take for granted is transformed, and the crime mystery is that much deeper due to the fact that the protagonist is striving to understand the world that he lives in on top of the facts of the crime. As the story progresses we become more and more taken by the protagonist, and manage to rediscover some of the basic truths about our own lives from a new and honest perspective.
on July 11, 2007
I love any book that has an unusual premise or form. You know the ones I'm talking about. Think "Life of Pi," with its surprise ending or McCrae's "Katzenjammer" with it even MORE surprise ending and insightful construction. So it was only natural that I'd be drawn to "Curious Incident." Told through the eyes of an autistic teenager this is more than just an intersting look at "the other side." My only complaint with the book was that the kid (narrator) got on my nerves a bit. But then, I suppose that's the point--he also got on his parents nerves a lot, too.
This will not be everyone's type of read, but if you're looking for something that's really different, this is it.
on December 20, 2004
Some of these reviews give away far too many details about the book, the narrator, the dog, etc. I wish I'd just been told the bare minimum so I could have had more surprises, so I'll just say that I simply loved, loved, loved this book. If you loved Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife or Jennifer Paddock's A Secret Word, then you will love The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It would make a perfect gift, as I think all these titles would. They go above and beyond what the average novelist conceives. There's genius in the whole concept and in the structure and voice and spare readable sentences, everything.
on July 3, 2009
This book was absolutely extraordinary. I really loved it to the very last word. It`s my favorite book of all times, but that is because I`m really fascinated with their minds (people with autism). The book is original, witty and well written (you have to think that it is a child with autism that is the narrator). It even gave me goosebumps at one point. This book might not be for everyone, but for people who want more insight on the autistic mind it is a must-read.
I work with adults with autism (and I`ve also worked with children) and this book really shows you to an extent the way an autistic person thinks. It give you insight of how their minds could work. Of course, there are different types of autism, but you can still feel the anxiety when the main character describes it. I put myself in his shoes and started thinking like him, because I could see some aspects of the character in the people I work with. Every time, he did something or thought of something I could visualize them doing something similar or thinking the same way Christopher was.
on September 21, 2006
----The Curious Incident---- is one of the most inventive books I've ever read. Even though there wasn't a lot of dialogue, the author makes up for it with his descriptions. The way he described things made me picture things in a different way, so I never got bored. The author also used tone well and would have the right tone with different situations in the book. The author's fun and unique way of writing always kept me interested. The book was one of the greatest books I have ever read. For a rating from 1 to 10, I would give this book a 10. I think it deserves a ten because it was very exciting and also kept me interested. It also gave you an idea of how autistic people may see things and I thought that that was very cool. I think that anyone from a teenager to older would enjoy this book. I wouldn't recommend this to younger kids because they may not understand Christopher's emotions. Another great Amazon pick would be ----Katzenjammer---- by Jackson MCcrae--very funny and original.
on November 5, 2005
Constantly bewildered by the (to him) incomprehensible behavior of those around him, Christopher resembles nothing so much as a human plunked down on a distant planet, trying desperately to figure out how to interpret the language and behavior of an alien species. And, in a way, many of Christopher's conclusions and actions make logical sense; but because he lacks a normal person's ability to make intuitive connections or understand the unspoken, Christopher has to rely on the imperfect set of rules he's learned about human behavior. Which is not to say Christopher can't also be infuriating, with his startling rigidity and resistance to change; he's prone to loss of bladder control and groaning fits when confused or scared by his surroundings - which is rather often. Nevertheless, he's deeply sympathetic and intensely believable, even if (like me) you've never met an autistic person before.
Other characters, such as Christopher's father and bereaved dog-owner Mrs. Shears, are realistically flawed and very convincing. They're not saints, by any means; Christopher's father tries hard to be patient, but can't control his frustration and anger, and all too often takes it out on his unresisting son. Mrs. Shears, for her part, is icily distant to Christopher. At first we assume that it's because of his insensitive poking into the death of her pet, but as the story progresses, we learn that her hostility stems from other, understandable (though not very noble) reasons. Obviously, Christopher's not responsible for his condition, and obviously he wouldn't have chosen to be as he is; but even though he can't help it, the boy is a heavy burden to those who must care for him, and frequent flare-ups of resentment and bitterness keep the story well away from saccharine TV-movie territory. Must also recommend MY FRIEND LEONARD as it is one great book.