Monday, May 11, 2009

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time...random thoughts

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.

Yes, I know the rest of the planet read this book five years ago. What can I say, "cutting edge" and "Debi" just don't belong in the same sentence. Anyway, this is definitely one of those cases of better late than never, because I absolutely loved this book! Really, truly loved it.

You know, I'm not even sure I've ever read a review of this book. (I suspect most of you read it in the days before I started blogging.) But I had certainly heard of it, word of mouth and all. And I've honestly wanted to read it for a very long time, but just could never seem to get around to it. What finally pushed me over the edge was Charlotte Moore, author of George & Sam: Two Boys, One Family, & Autism. She mentioned really enjoying The Curious Incident and stated how very authentic it felt to her. To me that was high praise, and it seemed time to get off lazy butt and go dig the book off the shelves.

So, what did I love so much about this book? Is it cheating to say nearly everything? The book is told from Christopher Boone's perspective. In fact, Christopher wrote the's his written version of the story of finding his neighbor's dog, who had been killed with a pitchfork, and his subsequent story of detecting to find out who had done it. Christopher is a fifteen-year-old boy with an autism spectrum disorder. I fell completely in love with Christopher and found myself feeling utterly privileged to be allowed to view his world through his eyes. (And yes, I do know this is a fictional book, but it was one I found so incredibly believably that I couldn't stop myself from feeling these emotions.)

And speaking of emotions, Christopher does not intuitively understand the emotions others are feeling. So his narrative doesn't ascribe emotions onto others. Yet he talks about the things that happen, the words that are spoken. And somehow you end up with a remarkable full story of what his parents, particularly his father, are going through. In case you haven't read this, I don't want to go into particulars, but Christopher's father does something that I find unbearably despicable. And yet I can't find him thoroughly unlikable. It is so very evident to the reader how much he loves his son. Being human, he is certainly fallible. But he never stops trying to do everything he can for Christopher, even if his judgments are sometimes faulty.

But there is so much more I loved about this book, too. Coming from Christopher's perspective made this a thoroughly unique experience. Christopher loves mathematics and science. He loves logic and figuring out puzzles. And all these things come out in his writing. The chapters, instead of being labeled with cardinal numbers as is usual, are numbered by prime numbers. He includes diagrams and sketches. He explains scientific phenomena. And none of this is ever for a second boring, but instead completely fascinating.

If I have any complaint at all, it would be that it seemed to end so quickly. But to have it done any other way, I suspect, would have taken away from its authenticity. So it's actually not a complaint at all.

Compelling. I see no way this book won't make my top reads of the year list.


Other opinions:

Dewey at The Hidden Side of a Leaf (Okay, how did I not know that Dewey had reviewed this?!!)
Michelle at 1 More Chapter
Rebecca at The Book Lady's Blog
Blue Archipelago
Natasha at Maw Books Blog

If I've missed your review, please forgive me. And leave me a link in the comments and I will gladly add it to the list. Thanks.


I have loads of blame to dish out (yes, Rich spoiled me rotten for Mother's Day), but I'm so behind in absolutely everything (including blog reading, for which I truly apologize) that I'm afraid I'm probably just going to have to wait a day or two to get to it. Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!


Amanda said...

You're not the only person left on the planet who hadn't read it. I still haven't. It's on the list, though. One day I'll get to it...

Nymeth said...

I still haven't either! Does that make me not cutting edge? :P

...of course, now thanks to you I want to more than ever!

You need to tell us all about your mother's day loot. With photographic evidence please :D

Debi said...

I sure hope you love it as much as I did when you get to it!

No, with me its just a pattern. Sheesh...I couldn't even begin to tell you all the new horizons you've opened for me! And I also couldn't begin to tell you how much I love you for it!
Oh, I definitely will be sharing...and I think you'll be happy about the points you earned this week (I know I am!)

Becky said...

I haven't read it either, Debi. I keep meaning to. *Hangs head in shame* I borrowed it from a friend three or four years ago and it is still sitting here on my shelf unread.

I do *want* to read it.

Chris said...

I haven't read it either Debi :p You're not alone! But I want to read it so bad!! It's been sitting on my shelf but there's always something else that I have to read first, lol. You know how that goes....

It sounds like a perfect book!! I can't wait to read to continue your autism reading, you have to read The Horse Boy and Marcelo in the Real World :p

I can't wait to see what Rich got for you Debi!!! It's well well well deserved whatever it is :)

Jean said...

Is Rich still feeling guilty over that little trip he took to the Bahamas in January?

Scrap girl said...

I was bought this book the Christmas it came out. I read the first couple of pages and never really gave it a chance. Perhaps I need to go back and take another looks.

Dawn said...

I think I want to read this! I am stockpiling books for the summer! I've been intrigued with autism, since I know very little about it. Thanks for the recommendation!

take care,

Ali said...

I loved this and have had another Mark Haddon book on my library shelf for ages, waiting to be read. One day...

Molly said...

I have not read this book either - even though I bought it two years ago and planned to read it right away.

My daughter read for high school English this year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Perhaps I can finally get around to it this summer.

Thanks so much for a great review!

kreed said...

The rest of the world may have read it 5 years ago, but I have never heard of it. So I am really not cutting edge!

I am also glad to know I shouldn't feel too guilty about missing Jane Eyre and the like. I do have a Jane Austen from the library in my TBR pile right now - I may or may not get to it!

Trish said...

Happy Mother's Day, Debi! I hope you had a wonderful day and I can't wait to hear about your spoils.

I read this one before there was a lot of hype--just loved the cover and had to pick it up. I really loved it as well and you've really made me want to read it again. I had almost forgotten how special Christopher is and I think the description of "authentic" fits well.

I actually loaned this out to a friend and never got it back (grrr!), so I recently picked up another copy. I hope to re-read it again soon--it's the kind of book that really sticks with you.

Literary Feline said...

I really liked this book too, Debi. I loved Christopher's voice throughout the novel. Great review!

Dawn said...

Hi Debi,

I ordered the book last night. I can't wait to read it.

take care,

DesLily said...

well you are certainly in good company with those who have NOT read this yet!!

Kailana said...

I read this book years ago. I can even remember if I was blogging yet. :) I have read his other book, too, but I liked this one better. I think. It's not very fresh in my mind anymore!

Grad said...

I have heard about this book from so many sources. I keep forgetting to write the name down, and forget it, until someone else mentions it. I have actually noted it in the notebook I carry. Next time I'm at the bookstore, I'm ordering it. Good post.

Eva said...

I bet you'd really enjoy When We Were Romans! It has a young boy narrator too, and it's just sooo good. :)

Care said...

Thank you for this review. I read it awhile ago (actually very rare for me to read a book soon after it's pub'd but sometimes it happens) and I tend to doubt what I read when I come across reviews who didn't like it as much. I think it must have appealed to my non-emotional math/logic side yet all I really remember was that I really enjoyed reading it. huh. Thank you.

Fear Death By Water said...

I bought it 5 years ago ... does that count?