Thursday, April 7, 2011

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

Guest review by Rachel. Rachel is Christina’s cousin and an English MA student. She is currently procrastinating the writing of a thesis on the post-modern journey myth in House of Leaves and the video game Portal. Despite her elitist tendencies, she enjoys anime and popular video games.

Published: 2003

It’s about: A high-functioning autistic boy narrates his quest to solve the murder of a neighborhood dog. In the process he becomes more independent and opens at least one can of proverbial worms.

I thought: I had a hard time suspending my belief for the autistic child narrator. I know it allows authors to have an excuse to describe the world in a new and interesting way, but in this case, it’s unbelievable. Autistic children are notorious for their difficulty in verbalizing even simple needs, let alone complex scenes involving an awareness of what aspects of their disorder are unique and readers might find interesting (I assume it’s not Asperger’s because of the boy’s other extreme symptoms). Despite my personal difficulties, I really enjoyed the investigation half of this book. It made me think of how ordinary things could be puzzling to children (even children with autism). It also made me think about math(s), even though I still don’t understand The Monty Hall Problem.*

The last half (dealing with the solution to the mystery) wasn’t as fun to read. It just made me kind of annoyed. Haddon’s autistic narration style gets old after a while. The whole thing felt a little like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close lite-edition, complete with a child investigating something and having lots of anxiety about it.

Verdict: In between. Buy it used or borrow it from a library or friend.

Reading Recommendations: This book could probably devastate a child who is grieving over the death of a loved one.

Warnings: Some vulgar language. Also, Christopher uses the word “sex.” His father sometimes drinks alcohol.

*You choose from three doors, 2 of which are goats and one of which is a car. They show you one of the goats from one of the other two doors, and it’s statistically in your best interest to change doors, even though intuitively it seems like that won’t really change anything.