Having just missed one hundred books in the first year of The Book Challenge, in 2010, I made the full tonne. Still reading, but without the challenge, take a look at the reviews for the books that I have read this year.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Book 28 - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Book - The Curious Indcident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author - Mark Haddon
Year - 2003
Genre - Fiction
Bought for me originally by John Gompers

Here is an interesting fact for you - and this is one that Pat told me, so a proper fact,  not one of my own semi-plausible random facts.  During the past ten years, the top twelve best selling books in this country were written by just three authors.  You can take all seven of JK Rowling's Harry Potter books as a given, and I doubt too many people would be surprised to hear that four of the other places are filled with Dan Brown's first four books, but I must admit to being somewhat surprised that this book by Mark Haddon is the only other one to fill out the list.  Not becuase it is a bad book - far from it - but because I didn't realise just how much other people had realised it is a great book.

The book is written from the point of view of Christopher, a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  He has difficulty understanding how other people feel by their facial expressions, hates the colours yellow and brown, and has a massive capacity for maths.  The story follows him as he tries to investigate the death of a neighbour's dog, and takes him on a strange journey.

The writing of this book is phenomenal.  When I first read this book, I knew next to nothing about autism and its various degrees.  Now that I work in a primary school, I know many more children with ASD, but I would never presume in a million years to understand how they think.  The joy of the book is that Mark Haddon makes you feel that you can understand how Christopher thinks, and whilst the lead character displays very little emotional response in the book other than being scared or confused, you feel very emotionaly connected to him.

All of this would be for naught if there was not a strong story to back it up, and Haddon again provides, with a story which is - although somewhat far fetched - truly gripping.  Interspersing the action with Christopher's takes on maths problems, or a list of reasons why he hates yellow, help to keep the book massively interesting, and even on a second readthrough, almost impossible to put down.

Quite simply, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is not just a book which I would reccomend to anyone, but one of a small selection of books that I would label as 'must read' books for absolutely everyone.  If you haven't read it, please pick up a copy now and get going!

10/10

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