Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
Author: Mark Haddon
Review Summary: The writing style of this book was unique and fascinating, but the plot felt incomplete.
Although Christopher has an incredible memory for factual information, he has a hard time understanding human emotions. He’s smart and logical, but also very sheltered. When he discovers that his neighbor’s dog has been killed, he decides to emulate his favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes, and try to find out who is responsible. In order to investigate, Christopher will have to do things outside his comfort zone and what he learns may be even more frightening.
I loved the way this book was written. Although I don’t know if this an accurate portrayal of Asperger’s, (and there seem to be knowledgeable people who think it isn’t) I do know that the author did a great job creating a character with a unique and consistent voice. Like world-building, a character’s personality, mental abilities, and quirks should be internally consistent. That’s definitely achieved here. It’s clear within the first few pages that Christopher is very concerned with precision and facts and that he has emotions, but other people’s emotions escape him. He has his own dreams and aspirations, likes and dislikes. He speaks in a straightforward, unadorned way that fits the way his character is portrayed. I enjoyed both his philosophical observations and the math and science topics which he explains within the narrative.
The plot didn’t work as well for me. It was a bit unbelievable, but my biggest problem was the incomplete ending. I finished the story feeling like the author wanted us to believe we’d gotten a happy ending. While some of the conflict in the story was resolved, I was still very concerned about Christopher’s well-being. I realize having a child like Christopher presents unusual challenges for parents, but Christopher’s parents were unacceptably terrible at taking care of him. I hope that in real life, the government takes a greater interest in children’s safety than it does in this book. I think an ending like this would have been alright if I felt the author were intentionally making a point about the care available for children with mental health issues. Instead, I felt like he glossed over what could have been the most valuable part of the book.