Review of tHe curious incident of the dog in the night-time

October 2, 2009
By Anonymous

Seven minutes after midnight on Randolph Street, Wellington laid on the ground with a garden fork completely through him- DEAD. Haddon starts off the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year and the 2004 Commonwealth Book of the Year with the scene of the murder of the neighborhood dog, Wellington. The book is narrated in the first person by the main character, Christopher, is determined to find the murderer. Christopher not only solves the case, but along the way uncovers the truth about his mother. Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tells an amusing tale of the adventures and insights of a fifteen year old autistic boy through Christopher’s unique voice and simple diction.

The primary plot of this story is the maturation of Christopher. Christopher becomes a more mature person through his journeys in the investigation of the murder of Wellington and his solo trek to London to meet up with his mother. In the beginning, the Christopher is dependent on others and is very shy. Christopher matures throughout the book, and by the end of the novel this change is evident. Christopher is able to talk to strangers, handle bad situations and become more independent. Christopher does “not like strangers because I [him] do not like people I have never met before”. But in order to solve the mystery of who killed Wellington, he had to be brave and question strangers. By going to London on his own, solving the mystery on who killed Wellington and finding his mother, Christopher knows that he “can do anything”. The confidence that Christopher shows at the end of the book is a drastic change from his behavior in the beginning of the boo
Haddon writes with an easy flowing smooth style. He avoids complicated sentence structures and long extended metaphors. This simple diction allows the reader to do what they are suppose to do- read. When I read the book, I didn’t have to wonder “What does this mean?” or re-read a page over and over again to understand what Haddon was saying. Haddon uses everyday, colloquial language that does not leave the reader confused. Therefore the book is a nice simple book; you can just read and relax. The novel has some humor to it by emphasizing Christopher’s innocence and naive ness. The deliveries of the jokes are in a dry humor sort of way, and are usually only good for a one time laugh. The book Haddon continually uses stream of consciousness. One chapter is about the plot, and the next is an insight into Christopher’s past or personal thoughts, this trend continues throughout the whole novel.
Christopher’s anecdotes allowed me to view things from Christopher’s perspective; this made me care more about Christopher and relate to him better. Some of Christopher’s thoughts really opened up my mind, like when he was discussing the meaning of a name and constellations. The name Christopher means kind and helpful, but Christopher doesn’t wan his “name to mean a story about being kind and helpful. I[he] want my name to mean me”. I never really thought about how I wanted my name to be defined so when I read this it made me think about it, and I also wanted my name to mean “me”, not some random story. Christopher also made a valid point when he was ranting about constellations. The stars can be drawn so that they can become any fixed shape, so why do give them names based on what they look like? Christopher’s ideas really made me think about things more than just skin deep. Christopher had a child-like perspective which gives the reader brief concise descriptions of everything that was going on. The characters in the book are believable characters and complex emotional humans. Mrs. Alexander fits the nice old lady archetype. Christopher’s mom was a parent who had enough of her troublesome family and abandoned her family; this a realistic portrayal because not every parents is a good parent, and some parents do leave their family. Christopher’s dad was realistically portrayed as a kind father who occasionally is fed up with Christopher’s behavioral problems stemming from his autism. When Christopher violates one of his father’s wishes, his father is irate, yelling, “Holy f***ing Jesus, Christopher. How stupid are you?”, but his dad also cares deeply for Christopher, his dad “worried myself[himself] sick every time he wandered off somewhere at night”, cooked his meals and constantly watched off Christopher. This is a realistic portrayal because nearly every father loves his son- no matter how hard it is to raise them, and most parents reach a point where they are tired of dealing their children’s actions and just lash out on them. Nobody on this Earth is perfect; people have both positive and negative things about them. Christopher has positive things about himself- he is a logical thinker and excels at Math, but he also has negative things- he is easily frustrated, prone to whining and needs very specific instructions.
The setting of the story was in a typical small town, Swindon. Christopher frequently draws maps of his house and his mother’s house to help the reader visualize Christopher’s living space. Since the writing style is plain, Haddon does not describe the setting in minutiae detail. Since the plot focus’s on Christopher’s maturity, the lack of embellishment of the setting did not hurt the quality of the novel. In fact when Haddon tried to elaborate on the setting was when the book was at its worst. When Haddon was describing the specifics of Christopher’s voyage to London is when the story was dull and a drag to read. Haddon listed every train transfer in London, advertisement that Christopher saw and seat design on the train. That section of the book was insipid and hurt the quality of an otherwise exciting book.
Mark Haddon’s literary debut was based on his past work with autistic children and was a critically acclaimed success. Haddon has followed his first adult book with A Spot of Bother. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a nice relaxing change-of-pace read. Its understandable language allows the reader to just go to a quiet place read, and enjoy the story.

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