the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

I loved this book. Again, it was a quick read, which I seem to be getting a lot of lately, so I polished it off in 2 sittings.

The first thing I noticed when I started this book was that the first chapter appeared to be chapter 2. Hmmm. Did I get a bum copy? Doesn’t look like a bum copy. The next chapter is 3, then 5, then 7. Oh, OK, prime numbers. Christopher Boone is writing a murder mystery, and he is an autistic savant living in Swindon, England, and loves ‘maths’. He finds great comfort in numbers and the way they work…it helps him to cope with the rest of the world, which he definitely doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand emotions, or people’s emotions and facial expressions. He likes maths and science and animals. The book starts with Christopher discovering the still-warm body of a neighbor’s dog on her lawn, speared by a garden fork. Christopher liked the dog, and resolves to find out who the killer is, and to write a book detailing his quest. So he does what any good detective would do…he starts asking questions. His questions lead him on a journey where he discovers not only who killed the dog, but also some secrets that throw his world into a spiral that ends with him stretching amazingly outside of his comfort zone.

What I liked best about the book, I think, was Christopher’s ‘voice’. I liked how he detailed the rules that help him get through life, the rules that can help him to ground himself and make him feel safe when the world is somewhat out of control.

Mr. Jeavons, the psychologist at the school, once asked me why 4 red cars in a row made it a Good Day, and 3 red cars in a row made it a Quite Good Day, and 5 red cars in a row made it a Super Good Day, and why 4 yellow cars in a row made it a Black Day, which is a day when I don’t speak to anyone and sit on my own reading books and don’t eat my lunch and Take No Risks. He said that I was clearly a very logical person, so he was surprised that I should think like this because it wasn’t very logical.

I said that I liked things to be in a nice order. And one way of things being in a nice order was to be logical. Especially if those things were numbers or an argument. But there were other ways of putting things in a nice order. And that was why I had Good Days and Black Days. And I said that some people who worked in an office came out of their house in the morning and saw that the sun was shining and it make them feel happy, or they saw that it was raining and it made them feel sad, but the only difference was the weather and if they worked in an office the weather didn’t have anything to do with whether they had a good day or a bad day.

About 1/3 of the way into the book, Christopher makes a discovery that throws him for a huge loop, and from that point on, I couldn’t put the book down. I had to know what was going to happen, where the book was going with this, was he going to be able to cope with the new reality in which he found himself, seeing as how 4 yellow cars in a row could make him stop eating and communicating, and he was unable to stand being touched by anyone, even family.

I liked this book a lot, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I am looking forward to future novels from this author. This book was Mark Haddon’s debut novel (though he’s written childrens books before), and what a debut…it won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year, and the 2004 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book. I read it for the Book Awards Reading Challenge.

In an odd moment of synchronicity, Christopher likes to watch his Blue Planet video…and, the same day I read about him watching Blue Planet, and he described which episode he was watching, Maya was watching TV, and started watching that very same episode. She rarely watches Blue Planet, doesn’t have the DVD or anything, so it was indeed coincidence. She was excited, because it was talking about underwater mountains and volcanoes that she has studied in her Earth Science class, and I was excited because Christopher had talked about these same mountains and volcanoes in my book. Groovy, huh?

13 thoughts on “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

  1. are reading an awful lot of books!!! That’s fantastic! And posting reviews too….great!!Murder mystery with prime numbers involved…yay!!

    What is it on the book cover??An upside down dog..or animal of some sort??

  2. Dee, that’s the dead dog…in earlier releases of the book, I think it had a lawn fork sticking out of it even…

  3. This is one of my favorites. At first I thought it was because Christopher reminds me so much of my own son (who is mildly autistic) with all the rules and such, but it seems like everyone who reads this loves it as much as I did.

  4. Even though the main character loves numbers (and logical order to things), his slavish devotion to order makes him quite an odd person in a David Lynch kind of way.


  5. Now I knew you were a reader, but MAN! You have been getting through so many lately.

    I think this one sounds really interesting and may have to add it to my library list. I need a gripping but somewhat short story these days and this one sounds like just the thing.

  6. OMG I loved this book and I read it in about two sittings as well. Books that make you want to forget the world around you are few and far between….

  7. I read this book a while back and remember being completely enthralled with it. Haddon’s more recent book “A Spot of Bother” hasn’t captured as many readers’ hearts as this one did, which is a pity because I have it on my shelf but lack the motivation to read it.

    Thanks for the nice review J.

  8. Christopher is one of my favorite characters in literature. Seriously, he ranks right up there with Scout and Joe in Great Expectations and Anne Shirley. I just love him.

    I think when I reviewed it I posted all the various covers I could find. There was one that said something really strange, I remember, like it had won a children’s book award, maybe? Something that made no sense.

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