Dani Reads: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon

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When I took the summer off, I resolved that I would read things I wanted to read, as opposed to the things I needed to read. My English major, while training me to have mad analyzing skills and exposing me to wonderful works I wouldn’t have known otherwise (heya, Al Purdy!), dealt with books that I am required to read. As cliched as it may sound, the requirement part of it killed off my love for reading for a while. This summer is as much a vacation for my brain as it is a chance to pursue internships, and in the interests of doing things that I enjoyed, I pruned and cut and trimmed until my to-read list was down to twenty books that I had wanted to read for a while now.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time came first because I had heard nothing but good things about it ever since it came to my attention. It’s on a lot of book recommendation lists, and it was always one of those books that I always saw in my local Chapters, so I thought, hey, why not. If this many people think it’s good, maybe there is something to the hype.

I went into the book expecting to encounter a character that would make me put down the book in the middle of a story and go, wow, this is intense. Instead, I came out feeling “meh” about the reading experience. Christopher is a well-written protagonist, no doubt about it. However, I felt like the introduction dragged on far more than necessary, and it took me a while to get invested in the main character – too far, as I wasn’t really invested in the protagonist until he makes the pivotal decision brought about by a letter. 

I kept hoping that Haddon had some surprise for the reader, that it was just taking some time to develop. I kept hoping that I just needed one more chapter to get to it, whatever I thought it might have been. I kept reading, and I kept being disappointed. I came away with the feeling that Curious Incident was a good book, but it wasn’t as good as I had been led to believe.  

That being said, there are parts of the book that I loved, such as how Christopher and his logical manner of thinking was laid out for the reader. As a reader connecting the story as he saw it, even as he didn’t grasp it yet in its entirety, the experience was like having a conversation with the author. It was like Haddon whispering in my ear while his story was unfolding right in front of my eyes. It’s bloody skillful how Haddon sets things up for both Christopher and the reader, leading the reader down the track that the very logical Christopher is laying down, but a couple of steps behind him so that the reader sees both the bigger picture, and Christopher’s detailed experiences.

Notable quotes:

“And Mother said, “You go back to sleep now. Everything is going to be all right. I promise.”

(…)

“And I know I can do this (First Class Honours degree and become a scientist) because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the mystery of Who Killed Wellington? and I found my mother and I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything.” 

Rating: 3/5. Quick read, amusing at some points, but a rather slow build up. Wouldn’t pick up again.

 

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