The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Nighttime review

Book: The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time

Author: Mark Haddon

I’ve had this book for a while now, but I hadn’t read it so when I had finished all the new books I had bought and didn’t have anymore I decided to try this one as a friend of mine had seen the play and really enjoyed it. I had never read anything by this author before so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Essentially the book is about a boy called Christopher who has Asperger’s syndrome (although this is not explicitly stated in the book, his actions do indicate that he has some form of autism) who tries to discover why a neighbour’s dog has been killed. Here is a synopsis of the story:

Fifteen year old Christopher has a photographic memory. He understands Maths. He understands Science. What he can’t understand are other human beings. When he finds the neighbour’s dog lying dead on the lawn, he decides to track down the killer and write a murder mystery about it. But what other mysteries will he end up uncovering?

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this book. I found it confusing that the chapters were labelled wrongly until it was explained that they were being labelled with prime numbers. I thought the story in itself was rather strange-the “mystery” of who killed the dog was not really a mystery at all-for once I worked it out before it was revealed in the book (which I usually never do!) and I didn’t feel that the book had a storyline that kept me hooked all the way through. As a main character, Christopher did not appear to display any personality other than through the symptoms of his autism, it felt like the author was just trying to create a stereotypical autistic kid and I didn’t find that I could warm to him or any of the other characters in this novel, as none of them appeared to be developed very well at all. The author clearly has some knowledge of autism and people in society’s prejudice towards them but I didn’t feel that it captured my attention as a story however the nature of the story seems to reflect the nature of Christopher as a character which I thought was interesting. However it’s just not the type of book that someone like me who loves an action driven plot with characters that I really empathise with and root for (I did empathise with Christopher but all the other characters fell flat and even Christopher was not well developed) but I didn’t root for any of them and I felt that we only really got to know Christopher since the novel was in his point of view, and not much about any of the other characters. I know that the book is written for people who are younger than me but I’ve never found that a problem before and it wasn’t really here but I don’t see how it can really be a kids book as there are some adult themes and a lot of swearing in this book. It’s meant to be a book written by Christopher and it certainly succeeds at that-it’s just not very good as a story. I just found it incredibly difficult to get into and I don’t really understand how they managed to do a play based on this book given that there is so little in terms of plot. I found myself feeling incredibly sorry for Christopher’s dad as it is clear that he loves and cares for Christopher and the way Christopher treats him at points in the story is really unfair-that doesn’t change the fact that his dad like all of the characters in this book seems incredibly one dimensional and his character still falls fairly flat. I also felt that Christopher’s explanations of science and maths and some of his monologues in general were a little tedious and dragged on a little too long-I flicked through the very last pages of the novel where he explained a maths questioned from his a level.  Yes it is a unique story but it drags quite a bit and I’m pretty sure some stuff could have been cut because it wasn’t necessary. It’s definitely not the sort of book I would go back to and read again and I probably wouldn’t recommend it to friends or family.  I particularly disliked Christopher’s mother-the spelling errors in her letters drove me crazy and I found her to be a highly unsympathetic character. Everything seems to take twice as long as it should-his train journey to London in particular and it doesn’t make for very pleasant reading. I don’t see why this book has been so highly praised.

The concept of the novel being told through an autistic kid’s eyes is interesting enough but the execution is flawed. As my only frame of reference to Haddon’s work, I highly doubt that I will be reading another one of his books. As a murder mystery this book had no mystery as it is pretty obvious from the outset who killed Wellington-I think next time I want to read a murder mystery I will read Young Sherlock Holmes instead-those are good books. This however is a poorly written book with poorly developed characters that seem like stereotypes of people rather than actual people. This book may be original but it left me feeling cold and bored.

My rating-2/5

The next book I will be reviewing is the sequel to Breathe, Resist by Sarah Crossan.