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

curious_incidentChristopher John Francis Boone has some “behavioral issues.”  These include social awkwardness, thrashing out when touched, a powerful loathing of the colors yellow and brown, constant irrational behavior, and being very racist toward France.  The story starts with Christopher staring out of his bedroom window in the middle of the night when he notices a dog, lying on the ground with a pitchfork sticking out of its side.  He decides then and there that he would find out who it was that murdered the dog. This is some of the “irrational behavior” that I mentioned above.   On his quest, he is arrested, threatened by a drunk, and finds out devastating family secrets that he was never meant to know.

This book is not for the prim and proper or easily offended and the many twists and turns will lead you to a conclusion that you would never expect.  This is not a book I would typically pick up because the title and cover page just shows an upside down poodle. It was given to me as part of the NPR top 100 recommendations list for teens so I took a crack at it and have to say I was pleasantly surprised and it is actually really good.  But seriously, the grownups throughout the story cuss, cuss, cuss throughout the entire book which I don’t think has anything to do with taking place in London. It is over the top cussing from these unsavory characters.  I am laughing as I write this because of the appalling use of language on every page.

-Evan G., 6th grade

Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Nighttime, by Mark Haddon

curious_incident_dogThe Curious Incident of the Dog In The Nighttime is a realistic fiction book by Mark Haddon, telling the story of autistic teenager Christopher, who, after finding his neighbor’s dog stabbed with a garden fork, decides to emulate his fictional hero Sherlock Holmes by searching for the murderer. Christopher’s father disapproves of him investigating the case, and what was a simple mystery about a dead dog leads to discoveries about his family, neighbors, and his own place in the world.

The major strength of this book is the unique voice of the main character. Christopher is a mathematical prodigy, but is distressed by loud noises and struggles to understand the emotions of others. His narration is often frustrating to the reader, such as when he breaks off from the plot to explain a math concept or his system of counting different colored cars, but he is also very sympathetic as a character often frightened and confused by his irrational surroundings. Christopher dislikes metaphors and jokes because of their inconsistent multiple meanings, but his literal-mindedness leads to some witty observations about the irrationality of social norms. Though the book takes place in modern London, from Christopher’s perspective it becomes a different world full of distractions and absurd rules.

I would recommend this book to anyone 14+ (for language and thematic elements) who enjoys mysteries and unusual narration.

-Miranda C., 12th grade