Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Book Review: the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, By Mark Haddon

The Premise:
An autistic 15-year old boy sets out to solve the mystery of his neighbor’s dog’s death.

The Good:
The book is written from the point of view of an autistic teenager, which can be both interesting and trying. Mr. Haddon clearly wants the reader to come away with a better understanding of how and why autistic persons are the way they are—how they talk, think, reason, etc. My own personal experience with autistic people is rather limited, but the story seems to come across as sympathetic rather than gimmicky. Most of the time the chapters work* and the story moves along with enough twists and turns to qualify as a passable mystery. The main character is interesting and the support characters gradually become fleshed out as the story plays out.

The Bad:
There are a few chapters where Mr. Haddon gets a bit showy. The aside chapters often worked and many were entertaining, but a few seem like they were just thrown in to shout, “See how clever I am”.

The Verdict:
Read it. And if you know an autistic person and have read it, I’d love to hear your perspective.

*Not to brag, but I figured out why the chapters are numbered the way they are before it’s revealed in the book. Okay, I’m bragging.