Thursday, 3 May 2012

1 Year, 100 Books Challenge: The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time

This is part of my 1 Year, 100 Books Challenge, for more info visit this page

Book Number: 14
Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Date of Completion: 20/1/2012
Rating: 5 stars

I've been waiting to review this book ever since I read it, I personally enjoyed it, but I know it is quite different and it is clearly not for everyone. In fact, I only like it because the way that things were in the novel was justified, and it was very different, if heaps of books were like this, or it wasn't written from an emotionally and mentally challenged person's point of view I would not have liked it. Another huge thing, how the heck can you still say autistic/aspergers people are stupid after reading this book? it shows that they can be extremely smart too (I wouldn't be able to do the prime numbers thing without a calculator, actually I could but it would take ages), they just think in different ways. 

Why I Read It: This book was first recommended to me when I was in Year 6, I haven't gotten many more recommendations for it since but I have heard that it won many awards.

Summary: Upon finding the body of a murdered dog, Christopher decides to write a murder mystery novel and investigate the crime. His investigations lead him to uncover many hidden family issues and learn to deal with them. Ok, that didn't sound very good, but it was good.

The Characters:
Christopher - Is the 'writer' of this novel and he has either autism or aspergers syndrome (it is not specified). It was very interesting reading from his point of view, he does stuff most people wouldn't normally do but it is explained, sometimes when reading you'll be like "Why on Earth did they do that? why couldn't they of..." but you get why he does things most people wouldn't do, because he thinks differently to most people. It's hard to put a personality on him, because personalities are usually shaped by interactions and reactions to other people, and Christopher has a very limited understanding of emotions. He is smart (in a scientific and calculating sense), flighty and a bit unsure of himself and other people, very impulsive and since he can't empathise he misunderstands people.

Christopher's Family - Despite caring for his son, Christopher's father doesn't really understand him. He is quick to anger and he often does rash and harmful things due to this. I think he was a really good addition to the cast, and was a well-developed character who had strengths and weaknesses, but still felt regret for any rash decisions. His mother, from Christopher's memories and the letters seems to be a very kind, patient victim of circumstances, but she also seems exasperated by Christopher's behaviour.**SPOILERS AHEAD** When we meet her she still finds it hard to deal with Christopher's behaviour but she is much more independent and strong-willed. **END SPOILER**

The Shears - Mrs Shears would often help around the Boone household after Mrs Boone left. She is really attached to her dog, Wellington who was murdered at the start of the novel. Mr Shears is an automatic suspect for the murder due to him moving to London suddenly, and his connection to Wellington. Understandably he is quite perturbed by Christopher's sudden arrival and isn't very patient with him

Others - I wanted to know more about Siobhan she seemed like the character who actually understood Christopher and there were so many references to her, but we didn't really get to meet her properly. All the characters all fit in to their parts and are believable and realistic.

The Plot:
It has all its twists and turns and it was character-driven. It was not predictable and quickly shifts focus from the dog's murder to family issues. Which is a good thing. The plot changed because of Christopher, not because of the events and it was well planned.

The Writing:
It was in 1st person (it works real well for this book), and it let's you get into Christopher's head really well, it allows you to understand his unusual thought processes and reactions to things and why he does what he does. Occasionally (it may have been on purpose) there would be a phrase which was grammatically incorrect, and was usually to with a verb or tense, for example, I found, 'do groaning' in there. I did like the diagrams and pictures in there and I also liked how the chapters were numbered by prime numbers not 1,2, 3, 4 etc, I did get a bit confused when I couldn't find a chapter 4 though. Other than that there is not much notable about the writing.

I know this book will not appeal to a lot of people so I'm going to be specific in my recommendation.  If you simply cannot get it into you head that people with autism/aspergers view the world differently to most other people, then this is not for you. If you think people with disabilities are stupid/worse/asked for it, we then you should definitely not try this book, and maybe you should think about this prejudice and realise that they did not ask for and were born that way/were involved in an accident. If you despise 1st person writing, then this is not for you and frankly this book would be kinda sucky if it wasn't in 1st person. I'd probably say this is for Grade 6+ (inclusive). If you want something different to most books, go for it.