The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is Mark Haddon’s rather brilliant novel from the perspective of a fifteen-year-old English boy who is incredibly clever when it comes to things like math and memorization, but clueless when it comes to things like human emotions and how to function in everyday life and society. It seems like he’s autistic, though Haddon never expressly says that in the novel. This book begins when Christopher decides to write a mystery novel based on the real-life mystery of “Who Killed Wellington?,” Wellington being his neighbor’s poodle who was horrifically murdered with a garden fork.
In the series of events that unfolds from there, Christopher is pushed unbelievably far out of his comfort zone, trying to solve Wellington’s murder, figure out a new mystery having to do with his mother, and just deal with the parts of everyday life that are so effortless for the rest of us.
Christopher’s voice rings true in this clever book. I am usually not a fan of required reading (I read this book and wrote this review for my Psych class), but I couldn’t put this book down once I started reading it. It’s smart and funny and observant. The narration is detached in just the way Christopher is supposed to be, perfect for the character—all cold and logical without any of the passion or emotion that regular people have. Christopher is overwhelmed and confused sometimes, but there are many things that would upset most people that leave Christopher completely unemotional. It’s a little bit alarming, the way he does not seem to understand other people as being human like him. The way the entire story is told just as Christopher would tell it. For example, the way he doesn’t care that his mother left his father, cheated on him. He doesn’t care about that, still sees his mother the same way she always has been, but when he finds out his father killed Wellington, a dog, he is horrified and terrified of his father, seeing him as something of a monster, something to fear. He identifies far better with animals, whose emotions are relatively uncomplicated, than with people. He actually compares the minds of other people to computers at one point. Mark Haddon has done a brilliant job with this book. He’s an amazingly gifted writer, with his perfect characterization of Christopher. I saw that he’s written another book, and I’m definitely going to read it as soon as possible.