Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

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Book #40: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Haddon)

Number of pages: 272

This is a book I read many years ago; I decided to read it again after watching the play that is showing in London's West End.

The first thing that is noticeable about this book when you open it is that the chapter numbering only includes prime numbers. As explained, this is because the book's teenage narrator, Christopher, has a fascination with prime numbers. Christopher also has Asperger's Syndrome, which makes it very hard for him to understand, or communicate with, other people.

The story opens with Christopher finding that someone has killed his neighbour's dog, Wellington; shortly into the book, he encounters a police officer, but ends up hitting the officer because he doesn't like being touched, and arrested. Christopher then decides, against his father's orders to leave things alone, to turn detective and find out who killed Wellington.

At the same time however, Christopher is informed that his mother has died in hospital; this has a greater effect later on in the story, mostly when...

[Spoiler (click to open)]

Christopher learns two things that turn his world upside-down.

First off, his mother isn't really dead; it turns out that she ran off with a neighbour and went to live in London. He finds this out through a series of letters that his father hid from him.

Secondly, when his father finds Christopher with the letters, he admits that he killed Wellington in a fit of rage, leaving his son afraid to live with him.

Christopher's narration is very well written, particularly as he explains all of his obsessive habits (such as his hatred of the colours yellow and brown), and occasionally goes off on tangents where he talks about his understanding of specific topics. The book also has a huge number of diagrams, mostly showing how Christopher visualises his environment.

I liked the fact that this book ends up not just being a story about finding out who killed a dog, and the best-written segment comes when Christopher ventures alone into London and finds things completely overwhelming. The book depicts the chaos of the tube and the behaviour of commuters in vivid detail.

I was really glad that I read this again; I think this is one of the best modern novels around.

Next book: The Girls (Emma Cline)
Tags: autism, award winner, book review, british, diary, fiction, grief, memoir, mental health, misery memoir, murder mystery, realism

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