Friday, 30 March 2012

Review - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The hopeful view

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time baffled me before I read it. I’d seen it variously described as a children’s book and not. It’s spine in the bookshops suggested it could have gone either way but when I pulled it off, I literally stepped back with a sharp intake of breath. A red dog on its back impaled by a gardening fork? If ever there was a cover to put me off a book, this was one of them (See end of review for a newer cover!).

But the reviews on the whole were attractive. After all, it was an award winner and on all sorts of book prize lists. And the writing from page one was compelling.  Yes, this could work for adults and older children alike, I thought (quickly hiding the cover)…

…and then I read the whole book in a single sitting.

Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is narrated by fifteen year old Christopher Boone.  His behaviour probably falls somewhere on the autistic spectrum. After discovering a dead dog on a neighbour’s lawn, he starts to write a murder mystery novel.  Determined to find the murderer, Christopher lands in all sorts of awkward and difficult situations.  Seeing them through his eyes though, they make perfect sense and the rest of the characters’ behaviour towards him seems unfair and even unkind.

There were a few aspects of the novel that mesmerised me.  The poignant comedy (which I often find with first person narration) takes you along on Christopher’s journey.  And yes, his character develops but it is the increasing revelation of the adult characters’ darker sides that linger………

It is one of those reads that stays with you……uncomfortably.
Overall, I would recommend this as an excellent read – but not for children. There are words of hope - but they are just words. I did not really feel the hope. Yes, poor Christopher, will he ever feel safe again? But really, poor, poor Wellington. Dog lovers will want to call the RSPCA.

On second thoughts, the cover is appropriate. If it makes you gasp, your response as a reader may be similar to mine.

Publication details:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon, 2004, Vintage, London, paperback.

Our copy: purchased from an independent bookshop with the help of a £1 World Book Day token.


Okay, okay....but my eyes are closed!
The front cover for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Note added 1 August 2012: Here is a new edition from the Vintage Children's Classics range. This front cover is a bit more pleasing to my eyes!


  1. I read this in my English class and I really enjoyed it too, it's really different from other books that I've read! And yes, poor Wellington :(

    1. You're so lucky to have read books like this in your class - although it probably would have spooked me out. I read Lord of the Flies which I still think is one fo the scariest books I've ever read. I've just shivered thinking about it.

    2. I read Lord of the Flies last year in class too, it was horrible! We also watched the film version, which was even creepier, hardly appropriate for 14-year-olds...

  2. Oh my gosh - I remember hearing about this book years and years ago and thinking how good it sounded and intending to read it. I totally forgot about it, so thanks for reminding me!

    New follower!

    Jessica from Booked Up!

    1. Hey Jess, thanks for following. You're welcome! I' ll pop by yours soon.

  3. I read this a few years ago and loved it. We also studied it in Creative Writing last term - it got a surprisingly mixed review...

  4. I thought it was very good but I'm not surprised it got a mixed review. It seems to have created controversy not least of which is the blurb's reference to Aspergers. I could see the book creating valid debate from all kinds of angles..... Everyone in our house wants to read it now though :)

  5. I LOVED this book, so much so that I wrote my A Level coursework on it! I think its a fantastic read for anyone and everyone, even children in my opinion but I'm talking YA age not below around 13!

  6. Difficult to put an age on children who'd enjoy this - it definitely needs a level of maturity, but I guess every child is different. I first read it as a young teen and definitely enjoyed it a lot - if I'd been young, who knows.

    My review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon


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