The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time CoverWhen I first read the title The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, it immediately struck me as completely pretentious, or at least hugely pompous, and, surprisingly, the story itself proves to be neither. The plot is fairly simple and straightforward, but the main gimmick is that very adult situations and emotions are explored through childish eyes.

The narration is probably the book’s biggest strength and largest failing. The story is told by Christopher, an autistic teen––or, at least a teen suffering from a disorder in the autism spectrum––who is writing a book exploring the events surrounding the death of a dog. I need to hand it to Haddon, as Christopher possesses a very authentic voice. However, the lengths the author goes through to employ a sense of realism, such as spending entire chapters explaining the Monty Hall Problem or the plot and all the moments of note in The Hound of the Baskervilles, hurt the novel’s readability, in that they are tedious necessities. Had the author chosen to pepper the plot with Christopher’s explanations and quirks, rather than dropping everything and giving us a lecture, I probably would have enjoyed The Curious Incident immensely.

But, once the story got moving––about one-hundred pages in––I did enjoy it, nonetheless. The final chapter made me a bit sick and a bit sad. It’s highly possible that the tiresome parts were needed to elicit such emotions, but that, unfortunately, didn’t make them any less tedious. (And, having to go through one-hundred pages before interesting things occur isn’t typically the measure of a good story.)