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

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Me: “I’ve finally finished my book and now it’s time to start the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It’s on my list and I only got it for around two dollars at the book festival!”

Regan: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. That sounds wildly interesting.”

I was discussing my reading plans with one of my best friends, and she completely blew my mind with the phrase, “wildly interesting.” It isn’t just interesting, which, by the way, is an extremely insipid word, it is wildly interesting. For some reason, I just think this is the most brilliant thing I’ve ever heard.

Since it is brilliant, it isn’t something one can use lightly. I spent the whole weekend thinking about things I could consider wildly interesting. I didn’t come up with a long list. This book, though, was definitely on the list.

Like Regan said, the title is completely unique and grabs you from the beginning. The Curious Incident is about a special needs adolescent who is a math genius and sets off to solve the incident of who killed the dog next door. His endeavors are met with new mysteries that he finds out.

This book is in his point of view like the main character, Christopher, is writing it. Since Christopher doesn’t understand jokes, can’t lie, and doesn’t have a way with words, the structure of the book is simple. To me, this just adds to his character.

Christopher is what really made the book. If you take away his observant outlook on life, so different from most people’s, this will just be another children’s mystery novel with family problems. He doesn’t concern himself with the bigger picture. Instead, he focuses on the little things people are doing or the small things that they mention. It’s quite intriguing to read about the things he is concerned about. We would just write it off as a trifle problem, but he genuinely only cares about those trifle things. He wasn’t sad about his mother dying; for him, it was just another occurrence. His feelings were limited to scared or safe. Depending on the situation, he would either scream and hit and groan, or he would be perfectly pleasant.

This book bears a striking resemblance to Perk of Being a Wallflower. Charlie in that book observed and spoke little and mostly preferred silence, just as Christopher did. Charlie retreated to his literature, while Christopher went towards numbers. Both of these boys were different from their peers and their views weren’t understood. Being able to get into their minds and learn their logic was wildly interesting.

The problems in The Curious Incident were huge and life-altering, yet Christopher took most of them in stride and focused himself at the smaller ones. Also, he interprets word choice and sayings much differently. For example, his interpretation on special needs:

All the other children at my school are stupid. Except I’m not meant to call them stupid, even though that is what they are. I’m meant to say that they have learning difficulties or that they have special needs. But this is stupid because everyone has learning difficulties because learning to speak French or understanding relativity is difficult and also everyone has special needs, like Father, who has to carry a little packet artificial sweetening tablets around with him to put in his coffee to stop him from getting fat, or Mrs. Peters who wears a beige-coloured hearing aid, or Siobhan, who has glasses so thick that they give you a headache if you borrow them, and none of these people are Special Needs, even if they have special needs.

Mark Haddon truly created a completely new world just by altering the point of view. It seemed so real, so accurate, and so easy to connect with. Christopher’s interpertations and observations are completely different from ours, but everyone can be moved by his adventures.

“And I know I can do this because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the mystery…and I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything.”

Very beautiful and very quotable and very real

This has certainly made my favorite books list. So far, I don’t have very many. I enjoy books that really get inside the narrator’s thoughts, and I love puns and play on words. I just think these things are wildly interesting, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time exceeded all standards.

5/5 Stars

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

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