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

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Published: 2003

 “Mr Jeavons said I was a clever boy. I said I wasn’t clever. I was just noticing how things were and that wasn’t clever.” (32)

Such is the life of our 15 year old narrator, Christopher Boone. His mind absorbs math and numbers like a sponge and he is able to solve just about any math problem you put in front of him. Unfortunately, he knows very little about human beings and about using the imagination. He is a very particular boy; hates the colours yellow and brown, always tells the truth, doesn’t eat food if it touches on the plate and can’t stand being touched. Christopher Boone has Asperger Syndrome.

After his neighbours dog is found dead, he goes on a mission to find out who killed the dog. This mission takes him on a journey that reveals to him much more than just the culprit; his entire world is turned upside down.

Haddock does a phenomenal job with describing Christopher’s mental illness, in portraying an emotionally dissociated mind. I must say that this book is very similar to The Shock of the Fall in terms of the first person narration and the major theme of a highlighted mental illness. Although, I much preferred reading this book than the latter. I feel more sympathetic towards Christopher, I can see better into how his mind works, and I can simultaneously view scenarios through his perspective as well as an outsider’s perspective. I can trust the narrator more, he always tells the truth, almost to a fault.

“This is another reason why I don’t like proper novels, because they are lies about things which didn’t happen and they make me feel shaky and scared. And this is why everything I have written here is true.” (25)

I love how he adds images, diagrams, charts and mathematical equations to literally illustrate what the narrator is thinking. For him it’s all about making things black or white. He has food he likes and food he just won’t eat. He would rather starve than put it in his mouth.

“But in life you have to take lots of decisions and if you don’t take decisions you would never do anything because you would spend all your time choosing between things you could do. So it is good to have a reason why you hate some things and you like others.” (106-7)

It a way there is a lot of learn from Christopher. I think there is some wise truth in that last quote that hit home for me. Isn’t it true that sometimes thinking and taking the time to make a decision is actually a negative? Think of exercising for a minute. You make a decision on Monday that you will go to the gym on Tuesday. On Tuesday you keep thinking about the workout session, and then questioning whether or not you have the time do, whether you feel like it, whether you are able to have dinner, etc. Wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t give you brain the chance to think it over and JUST DO IT  as Nike says?

Verdict: A most definite must read. It’s funny at times, its honest, witty and just a spectacular quick read.

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