Friday, June 11, 2010

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Haddon)

Other writing responsibilities and World Cup soccer have been cutting in on Genoshan time lately, so unfortunately this has to be short. Luckily, though, reviews are easy to make short when the book is good, like this one.


Christopher Boone is an English boy living with what has to be some kind of autism. He remembers absolutely everything, but has trouble handling even the simplest social and emotional issues. One day Christopher comes across a dead dog in his neighbor's yard, and decides that the death is a mystery that he must solve. Christopher's father objects to the investigation, but it continues nonetheless, sending the boy off on a path that leads him to startling realizations about his own life.

Okay. This book is actually really well written. It reminds me a lot of 2009's #1-rated Daily Genoshan book, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Both books follow a special young boy who goes off on a quest to answer a question that's been nagging him. Both are written from a diary-like first person perspective. Both boys come from broken households. I couldn't help thinking of Jonathan Safran Foer's book while I was reading this one, though it should be noted that this book actually came out first. Regardless, the likeness is a good thing. Mark Haddon does an excellent job getting into Christopher's mind. Everything makes perfect sense the way Christopher explains it, even ridiculous actions like detesting the color yellow or punching a cop in the face. Christopher writes everything down, even things that make him look bad, because that's what he thinks he is supposed to do. It's great, though. I could never imagine having to live that like, but Haddon brings me about as close as I think I could ever be.

There's a ton of really good conflict, and the book takes some very unexpected turns. Christopher winds up learning much more about himself than about the dead dog. Not all of it is good, though. His reactions, while slightly exaggerated to us, make perfect sense to him, and create a depth of drama you don't often find. I also really enjoyed the fact that there are plenty of puzzles, maps, and diagrams included in the book. Christopher is primarily a logic-based entity, and does his best to explain things in as rational a way as possible. Sometimes this means illustrating examples. Haddon is able to bring everything together in such a way that it all makes complete sense. It's an excellent book, I highly recommend it to pretty much everyone.


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

I was genuinely intrigued by Christopher's compulsion to continue on with his investigation even after his father made him swear he would stop. He has to find justifiable ways to keep going so that he can't be labeled a liar, which is extremely important to him.

This book came out two years ahead of what I personally labelled one of the best books ever written, but shares many of the same stylistic quirks. Haddon doesn't take things to the extreme that Foer did, but the creativity is astounding.

I can see why this is such a popular book, and my only regret is that I never read it sooner. It's easy to find, often filling up "Buy 2, Get the 3rd Free!" tables at Barnes & Noble.


Pick this book up. It's bound to be a classic. Keep reading, Genoshans!

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