Book Jacket Synopsis: “Christopher John Francis Boone knows all of the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow. This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and beloved novels of the last decade.”
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tells the story of Christopher Boone, a highly intelligent 15-year-old with autism who sets out to determine who killed a dog (Wellington) in his neighborhood. Like many books I’ve read lately, however, the story of the murdered dog isn’t actually the main focus of the novel; in fact, Christopher gets to the bottom of the murder relatively quickly. Instead, the book largely focuses on how Christopher interacts with and interprets his world, and how his uniqueness impacts those around him, including his parents, aides, and neighbors. I thought Haddon did a remarkable job with the narrative, and would be curious to know how those more familiar with autism feel about Christopher’s experiences. While I enjoyed the novel overall, I did find that I wanted the murder mystery to play more of a central role in the story than it did. Not only did I determine who had killed Wellington long before Christopher came to the same conclusion, but I also felt that the second half of the plot began to drag once Christopher’s objective switched from solving the murder mystery to finding his mother. At any rate, I would certainly recommend this book to people looking for a unique narrator, but I also think it has received more hype than it perhaps deserves.
Reason for Ban/Challenge: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has been challenged and banned in several schools, primarily due to complaints regarding “profane” language. Some parents have also requested the book be removed from school reading lists because they believe it promotes atheism. But Haddon doesn’t seem to be too troubled by the frequent challenges to his work. In his words:
“The assumption is that I should be morally affronted when this happens – and it has happened surprisingly often – but the truth is that it always generates a really interesting debate among school kids and librarians and parents, not just about Curious, but about literature and freedom and language, and this is an undeniably good thing. I have no way of proving it, but my suspicion is that more people read the book as a result and read it with more attention and interest than they might have done.”