318 of 327 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly astonishing!
Many of the people who have reviewed this book have first hand experience of children with behavioural problems, or links to Aspergers and / or Autism. They have (almost entirely) commented on how this book reflects in some way their experiences or that of friends or relatives. They have almost all enjoyed the book, and having read these reviews you may feel that, if you...
Published on 8 Mar 2004 by Nick Edwards
264 of 292 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Adults book in a Children's Cover
If I were reviewing this as an adult's book then I would award it 5 stars without any hesitation. Any book that holds my attention to such a degree that I read it in one sitting certainly deserves that, despite the fact that towards the end I started to lose sympathy for the narrator.
However, this review deals with the so-called Children's Edition. Although the text...
Published on 16 Aug 2004
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318 of 327 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly astonishing!,
Many of the people who have reviewed this book have first hand experience of children with behavioural problems, or links to Aspergers and / or Autism. They have (almost entirely) commented on how this book reflects in some way their experiences or that of friends or relatives. They have almost all enjoyed the book, and having read these reviews you may feel that, if you have no such experience, the book may not appeal to you.
Well, I personally have no experience in these areas, and I can honestly say that this has gone straight into my all time top 5 reads!
The story is wonderfully crafted, and not a page goes by when you do not learn something new about Christopher, the central character who has, I understand, though it is not stated in the book, Aspergers Syndrome (the book is actually written entirely from Christophers perspective).
This is one of those rare books that makes you want to discuss (not just talk about) the story. My wife and I both read it over the same weekend, and we kept finding ourselves going back to it to talk through some of the difficulties that Christopher faced, and how it must be to have to deal with them, either as the child or as a parent. This story really gives an insight into a mind which, in some ways, is far more developed than the mind of an "ordinary" person. It also gives you a feel for what it must be like to need complete structure and order to a life which can never absolutely have both. The lack of what you and I would call "emotion" was in itself deeply moving, and several times I found myself asking how I would cope if one of my two children had the same difficulties.
This is a remarkable book. If only everyone could read it, society would become a much more understanding and accepting place for those who suffer from the effects of conditions such as Aspergers, ADHD and Autism.
127 of 133 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incidently, the Most Wonderful Book I've Read!,
This is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. He is fifteen and has Asperger’s, a form of Autism. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth and owns a pet rat called Toby. He hates the colours yellow and brown and hates being touched. He knows it’s going to be a good day if he passes red cars on his way to school on the bus. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey, which will turn his whole world upside down.
Haddon has created a wonderfully brilliant character. His depiction of Christopher’s world is deeply moving, very funny and utterly convincing. He shows a unique insight into the autistic mind of the unlikely teenage detective who stumbles on everyday normalities as obstacles which further leads him to unearthing secrets that shock and startle him into running away.
What drives Haddon’s tale, however, is his empathy for his protagonist: it might have been easy to make Christopher an amusing suburban hybrid of Forest Gump and Adrian Mole, but the author digs deeper, mining a deeper emotional truth with a rigorous sense of purpose, one expressly devoid of cheap homily. He also knows a damn good page-turner: the emotional beats here are resonant and well deserved, the key plot revelations affecting, and the payoff deeply satisfying.
Although a work of fiction, it is both an educational and vividly honest adaptation of the trails and hurdles that people like Christopher undergo on a daily basis and that most of us are unaware of. A lesson can surely be learned from reading this boy’s curiously different story.
Incidentally, if you are to read only one book in the next 12 months, let it be this one. It more than deserves the recent accolade of 'Top Dog' in both the Guardian and Whitbread Awards for best book. This gem is a must and is star quality in new fiction writing regardless of age and background.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Actually, factually, really.,
When something has happened to you and you want to tell about it, you don't ACTUALLY say what has happened to you. You give your interpretation of what happened. You leave out some details and then add some graphic descriptions for good measure. And no one thinks less of you, because that is simply how we talk, right?
Not so for Christopher Boone. Christopher has Asperger's Syndrome and is very into truth. As far as Christopher is concerned, there is only one truth and there is no such thing as "truth being in the eye of the beholder". And since he loves the truth so much, who better than he to find out what happened to the neighbour's murdered dog?
So that\s what Christopher does. Which is not easy, really. I bet when you drive to work, along the same road you've been driving every day for the past years, you don't see much of the road itself. You see the traffic moving (or not), and you see the traffic lights changing, and that's about it. Again, not so for Christopher. He knows EVERYTHING there is to see along the road to his school. He knows what all the signs say and how many tiles there are in the sidewalk. He can draw you a detailed map even. Which is good, for a detective, but it also means he is easily overwhelmed by the sheer amount of details he has to process.
The way Christopher thinks is so different from the way of thinking of a normal human being, that it is amazing the book is still so easy to read. It really draws you into Christopher's world, one where Things are easy and People are difficult. Reading how hard some things for Christopher are, I realised how complicated the human mind really is. We base our lives on interpretations of situations, rather than on facts. Look at how Christopher explains how he found the dog, and then tells you the dog was PROBABLY killed with the garden fork because he could see no other wounds, and he doesn't think dogs die of cancer or car accidents (there is a garden fork sticking out of the dog at this time).
Throughout the book it becomes clear what a superhuman effort his father has made to offer Christopher a life as normal as possible. Of course, this is difficult to recognise for Christopher.
The book is funny because of the distant way Christopher talks; it's highly interesting because of the insight he gives in his thought process (he really is much more aware of how he thinks than I am of how I think). It's also sad, not only because of the current turmoil in his life, but also because, were he "normal" (if there is such a thing), Christopher would be on the brink of manhood.
Beautiful in it's simplicity.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An autistic boy tries to make sense of his world.,
This review is from: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: Children's Edition (Paperback)
Mark Haddon's touching novel, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," is the story of a British fifteen-year-old boy named Christopher Boone. Christopher has a form of autism. He is a genius in math and science, but he has trouble understanding facial expressions and he communicates with others without making eye contact. He abhors being touched by anyone, and he groans and withdraws when he is upset. Christopher goes to a special school and he clings to the routines that make his life bearable.
One night, Christopher's orderly world is shaken when he finds a neighbor's dog, Wellington, dead of stab wounds. Christopher loves dogs and he determines to use his sharp mind to find out who killed Wellington. Christopher's father orders his son in the strictest terms not to stick his nose into other people's affairs. However, Christopher ignores his father's orders and his investigation leads him down some unexpected paths.
Haddon's book is a brilliant journey into a world that few people can even contemplate. What must it be like to have a literal mind that can process only certain types of arcane information but is powerless to handle the everyday social interactions that we all take for granted? Haddon, who has worked with autistic individuals, has deep compassion for Christopher. By writing this book from Christopher's point of view, the author enables the reader to feel this boy's confusion, anger, and heartbreak as his life begins to unravel. Haddon not only lifts the curtain on an autistic's boy's world, but he also explores the strain that having such a child places on his parents.
"The Curious Incident" is eloquent, poignant, darkly humorous, and unforgettable. I predict that this book will become a classic and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the intricate workings of the human mind and heart.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Captivaring,
As both an author and father of a child with Asperger's, I was drawn to this book to see if Haddon could truly capture the unique brilliance and absent social skills of an autistic boy. Not only does he succeed at the task, he adds a healthy dash of humor while avoiding the easy trap of pathos a lesser author might have fallen into. The book is stunning in its accuracy of how those with autism view the world and- just as important- how the world views them. It is this last viewpoint that elevates the book to more than just clever, because we see through Christopher's literal-minded eyes the duplicity of the "normal" world, the world that all assume must be superior. In a way, Haddon's book reminds me of that great short story "Gimpel the Fool" by Isaac Bashevis Singer, a story of a simple man who believes all the lies he's told. In the end, it's not those who tried to trick him, but Gimpel himself who's revealed to be the wisest one for remaining firm in his belief that goodness will prevail. So too does Christopher prevail, his detective work unveiling the truth and overcoming all the futile attempts to thwart or dismiss his meticulous investigation.
I don't know if I'll ever write a book with an autistic character, but thanks to Mr. Haddon, I feel like it's already been done for me.
Mark Wakely, author of An Audience for Einstein
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, sensitive, and very, very funny.,
I read this book, despite my reservations (due to the grisly cover), on recommendation from an Educational Psychologist I know. She wasn't wrong, I loved it! However, you don't need to be an Ed. Psych. or even interested in the subject to like this book.
It grips from page one and sucks you in, spitting you out, satisfied and not a little damp about the edges on the last page. The style is simple and mesmerizing, written from the main characters point of view.
This main character is a young man with Aspergers Syndrome. A milder form of Autism. He has difficulty understanding people, especially on a social level. All his interactions are learned responses, which leads to some interesting insights into behaviour! For example, he does not like to be touched (a fairly tyical characteristic of Aspergers)so when a policeman grabs him... he hits him... quite matter of factly, with the same "voice" as "Readers, I married him!"
The book is an odyssey, both literally and metaphorically. The boy takes a journey and learns to deal with the rest of his life. The reader begins the journey to understand, or at least acknowledge, that people are unique, but still universal in their needs for acceptance and love.
A unique story that will make you laugh aloud and weep by turns. Read this when you have time, because it is torture to put down before the end. Above all, enjoy it, it is one of a kind.
103 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Red Food = Yummy!,
Novels written from the perspective of a mentally disabled protagonist are a tricky business, they can easily veer into condescension, mawkishness, or quirkiness for its own sake. Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn is a recent excellent example of a highly entertaining book which avoids these pitfalls, and this story about a 15-year-old boy with a highly functional form of autism (Asperger's syndrome) is another. Christopher lives in Swindon ("the armpit of England") with his widowed father, excels in math, can't read people's expressions, doesn't understand statements that aren't literal, and has severe color issues (for example, red foods are good, brown foods are not). The story begins when Christopher discovers his neighbor's dog dead, with a garden tool sticking out of it. Someone has clearly murdered the dog, and in the spirit of his favorite fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, he sets out to discover who the villain is. A social worker at his school helps him record his investigation in book form-thus explaining the novel. Christopher encounters inexplicable adult resistance to his desire to investigate, which by a quirk of fate, leads him to investigate his dead mother. At which point the book takes on a classic quest structure and the dead dog is left behind.
The real joy of the book is not its plot (which is skimpy and turns into a soap opera in the final third), but its nuanced portrait of the challenges faced by the mildly autistic, and by those who raise them. Christopher's sensitivity to noise, crowds, colors, and especially being touched, is shown in vivid detail (Some reviewers have criticized the character of Christopher as having many behavioral tics that would be cured in a few years therapy, however they seem to have missed the point that his father is a lower-middle class, blue-collar worker, and by inference could never hope to afford therapy.). At the same time there's no attempt to build Christopher into a figure of pity: he's clever, persistent, irritable, and sometimes irritating -a fully rounded character who simply operates in a slightly different world than most of us. The prose is very simple and direct, as one might expect from a young boy, making accessible to younger readers (although parents should be aware that there are four-letter words present). If for no other reason, the book is worth reading for the humanistic and empathetic portrayal of a mentally disabled youth, and will help any reader better understand the challenges facing those with mild autism.
43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time...,
For me, this book was an extraordinary insight into the life of an autistic boy. I was recommended it by a friend whose relatives had sent it over from America before it was publicised over here. It was supposedly primarily written for adults, but marketed as a book for teenagers as well as adults, and as a 13 year old myself, i think is well worth a read. The book is about a boy named Christopher, who is Autistic, and is obsessed with things being in order. He regually makes schedules and lists, and will not even touch things of certain colours. In a way, he is like all of us, for everyone likes hygiene and order in their lives, but Christopher takes things to another level entirely. It is so well written that it is hard to believe it is anything other than autobiographical, but, incredibly, Mark Haddon actually made it a point not to do any specific medical research into the disease. I would really recommend this book to people of my age, and anyone older: all my family have read it, and most of my friends, and everyone, especially my Mum, agreed it was an amazing book, and most unlike anything they had read before. Five Stars!
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "My memory is like a film. I press Rewind and Fast Forward.",
Writing this first novel from the point of view of an autistic 15-year-old, Mark Haddon takes the reader into the chaos of autism and creates a character of such empathy that many readers will begin to feel for the first time what it is like to live a life in which there are no filters to eliminate or order the millions of pieces of information that come to us through our senses every instant of the day. For the autistic person, most stimuli register with equal impact, and Christopher's teacher Siobhan, at the special school he attends, has been trying to teach him to deal with the confusing outside world more effectively. At fifteen he is on the verge of gaining some tenuous control over the mass of stimuli which often sidetrack him.
When the dog across the street is stabbed and dies, Christopher decides to solve the mystery and write a book about it. His favorite novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes his model as he investigates the crime, uncovering many secrets involving his own family in the process. Innocent and honest, he sees things logically and interprets the spoken word literally, unable to recognize the clues which would tell him if someone is being dishonest, devious, or even facetious. As he tells his story in a simple subject-verb-object sentence pattern, Christopher tries to communicate and give order to his world, and the reader can easily see how desperate he is to find some pattern which will enable him to make sense of it.
Christopher's investigations eventually require him to make some remarkably brave decisions, and when he faces his fears and moves beyond his immediate neighborhood, the magnitude of this challenge is both dramatic and poignant. Strange places have always been traumatic for him, and he has difficulties with his emotions. "Feelings," he says, "are just having a picture on the screen in your head." He responds either with logic or with the anger which sometimes overwhelms him as result of fear or frustration, and the reader cannot help aching for him and empathizing with his family.
Christopher's coming-of-age story is most unusual, if not unique, and he ends the book a much more mature 15-year-old than he was when he started. With warmth and humor, Haddon creates a fascinating main character, allowing the reader to share in his world and experience his ups and downs, his trials and successes. In providing a vivid world in which the reader participates vicariously, Haddon fulfills the most important requirements of fiction, entertaining at the same time that he broadens the reader's perspective and allows him to gain knowledge.
41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A curious read, but far from incidental,
Being Christopher Boone is pretty eccentric. Writing his way into Christopher’s head, Mark Haddon is a sharp, ambitious, arresting and convincing author. So how do you write an account of the life of a boy who can’t account for much that happens? Partly, by recounting the far from reachless stuff that Christopher does take in. Haddon pulls it off by getting Christopher to explain exactly what is happening, and I mean exactly. The curious incident of the dog in the night-time – the Holmes quotation of the title ricochets through the book – has a marginal character in society as narrator. So we read of what society looks like at one of its edges, and how those at its edges are treated. What we get is often what Christopher doesn’t get: he doesn’t understand the people that surround him, but we can because we can reclaim from his narrative what strikes him as peripheral. This action, restructuring the tale, is maybe what this book is for, bringing Christopher back into society. The treatment is a revelation, weirdly informative and extremely funny. This book is for sale in an edition for children; which is spot on. Christopher Boone is someone I would never have known as a child, and I begin to see maybe why. Mark Haddon performs the trick of getting inside the beautiful mind of a boy who is mostly not confused, but often confusing.
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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon