Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Publisher: VIntage, 2003
Read: August 2009; JFK>SFO, San Francisco
Format: trade paperback
Nutshell: Christopher Boone is a 15 year old math prodigy with what appears to be Asperger Syndrome or some form of high-functioning autism or something (though his condition is never explicitly defined). Wandering around in the middle of the night - as he sometimes does - he finds his neighbor's dog killed, via pitchfork. He takes it upon himself to investigate and document the case. While doing so, he uncovers a deep secret that upsets his well-ordered world, driving him to run away. By surviving the ensuing misadventures, some terrifying to him, his confidence grows. As do his hopes for the future.I picked this up at the used book store down the street for $4 and read most of it in the last third of a plane ride to San Francisco. I think that if I had sunk any more resources than that into reading it, I would feel slightly ripped off. It's not that the book is bad. Not by any means. In fact, it's engaging and quirky in a pleasant way. Cute even. It's just neither compelling, informative nor beautiful. And, really, these are the qualities I want in the books I read.
The author does take an admirable risk by writing Christopher in the first-person. It's well executed and the effect is never cartoonish or offensive. Actually, it aids in rounding out the character: you sympathize with and never pity him - a too common pitfall in books with mentally challenged characters.In the end, though, the story is kind of predictable. And the writing, though light and amusing, is pretty much just okay. If the The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time lands in front of you and you happen to have a couple of hours to kill, I say why not. You're unlikely to regret it. I just wouldn't necessarily rush to the library for this one.
Sweet, quirky, but not super memorable:
3 out of 5 stars