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

This is a book that I’m sure many of you have read, and one that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time. I somehow only got round to it a few weeks ago.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is narrated by a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. Upon discovering that his neighbour’s dog has been murdered, Christopher, aged 15, begins an investigation to find out who the killer is.

To start with, although I can really understand why so many people love this book, I didn’t. I enjoyed it in the same way you might enjoy a magazine article, or encyclopedia entry. I felt like a learnt a lot about Asperger’s Syndrome and now understand a much better than I did; for that, I’m glad I read this book. On the other hand, I didn’t enjoy it as a piece of fictional literature. The story was limited and only enthralling towards the end. I know, I know, this isn’t about the story. That’s not the reason this book was written, or what makes it a favourite of many people. I was hoping for something more though.

There is a reason for the lack of story, and that is because it is supposed to be a story written by Christopher himself. It is explained that he would struggle to write something fictional, so simply writes about his everyday life. The chapters are also prime numbers, and there are lots of pictures and diagrams, supposedly drawn by Christopher. In this, and the overall writing style, it is very clever and the read is an interesting one. Mark Haddon has captured something I imagine is very difficult to capture, and has executed it in a very honest way. I do, however, wonder how realistic it is, although I wouldn’t allow this thought to detract from what is a brilliantly written book.

This book could be analysed endlessly; picked apart word by word and put back together again. I think that is the charm. It’s clever and interesting in a literary/scholarly sense, leaving little space for the enjoyment of a casual reader like myself. In this sense, it seems as if it was written as a literary experiment. It is perfect for school English lessons, and even university projects, but I do not feel it is for someone who just wants to enjoy a good book for the fun of it. I actually borrowed a copy of this book from a friend who had read it for her A Level in English Literature. The copy was full of pencil notes, so I ended up buying a new one so I wouldn’t be distracted.  I did find, however, that I was subconsciously analysing it in my head as a was reading. I couldn’t fully relax and settle into it.

I’m sure many people will disagree with me. People will love this in the same way I love other books that other people don’t. It’s either your sort of thing, or it’s not. I also don’t want this to sound like a really negative review. I did enjoy the book, and am really glad I read it. I would recommend it, simply because it has done what it intended, by opening my eyes to what it’s like to live with this condition, from a first hand perspective. That being said, I wouldn’t read it again, and I’m not really interested in seeing the play.

7/10 – Something Missing

One thought on “Review – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

  1. Juliet | Not Capulet says:

    I have such an issue with this book, because people assume Christopher has Asperger’s syndrome (which is understandable as displays many of the characteristics of a person with Asperger’s), but Haddon has said himself that he did no research into syndromes or learning difficulty and didn’t create Christopher with Asperger’s in mind in particular. He just wanted a character with a learning difficulty, about which he writes very vaguely, and I just think it’s very problematic for the Asperger’s community!


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