Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

July 8, 2011 at 3:37 pm 17 comments

Curious IncidentThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Reviewed by Foo Yang Yi (3I108)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a book (deemed a mystery novel by the book’s narrator) written from the point of view of a 15-year-old autistic savant named Christopher. During the course of the book, Christopher demonstrates his photographic memory in detail. He uses a DVD as an analogy of what he is able to do, being that he can easily remember specifics, including what his mother was like when she was still alive, and even what she smoked, wore or read at a particular moment, as well as the exact words she said. Thus the narration resembles a transcript rather than a proper narrative, with more emphasis on the actions and words of others instead of their emotions. This uniqueness also stems from the fact that early in the book we find out that Christopher has difficulty understanding facial emotions and cannot describe feelings very well.

Despite his photographic memory, we also find out that the “mysteries” depicted in the book are indeed, from his point of view, mysteries, due to his inability to come to conclusions easily. For example, when he discovers a letter to him from his supposedly dead mother, he wonders if it was sent to the wrong person, while ignoring the possibility that his mother is not dead.

In general, the narration of the book may repel certain readers who prefer their narration to be more straightforward and less long-winded, due to a lot of sidetracking and anecdotes brought up in the story. However, it can also be viewed as insightful, since the narrating style used by Christopher is very uncommon due to his emotional disabilities. The information overload he experiences is also an insight that shows how he is able to analyse things that we normally do not pay attention to or take for granted.

This novel is a recommended read for those who like twists, no matter how minor they might possibly be, as there are numerous twists, both foreshadowed and unexpected, throughout the story.


Entry filed under: Mystery, Reviews, Young Adult.

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17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Goh Jun Liang  |  August 2, 2011 at 8:22 am

    I feel that this book is actually quite interesting, though I’ve not read it before. I think the twists provide flavour to the text. If the story was very straightforward, with practically no plot twists, I would think it is a very dull book. I’m more of a fantasy reader, as nearly anything is possible in a fantasy story. However, in stories that take place in the real world and are more realistic, there can still be plot twists.Taking “Merchant of Venice” as an example, the plot twists would be Portia tricking Shylock. It might seem that Antonio will really give up a pound of flesh, but Shylock is tricked. This is probably a rather famous plot twist, and helps to make the book more interesting.
    On the other hand, too many or too ridiculous plot twists would not be good. It would only serve to confuse the reader. Ridiculous plot twists would also spoil the story, by changing it almost totally.
    I think that plot twists are an integral part of any book, except non-fiction ones, but have to be handled carefully, so as to not overdo it, ultimately ruining the book.

  • 2. Gerald Tan  |  August 5, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    This review of the book definitely makes me really interested to read this book. I have always wondered what it feels like to have a photographic memory, I guess this book would help me have a better idea of photographic memory. From the review, the story seems like a complicated plot. The review also states that the narrative style is not something common. Thus I think this book has to be very unique. It will totally be something new and interesting to read. As someone who enjoys twists, I think I might visit the library to check out this book as it seems like an extraordinary book.

  • 3. Ryan Ong 2A2  |  August 5, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    After reading the review of this book by Foo Yang Yi, I feel that it is quite interesting. It has also made me want to read this book. This book is extremely unique in the sense that it is about a 15 year old boys who uses a DVD to recall things in the past. I have so far not read stories with such a plot before. The cover of this book is also very vibrant and it makes readers want to get a copy of it. The author of this book is a person who causes a lot of twists in his stories, thus I believe that this book is definitely worth the read as there are many twists in the story and this causes the story to become very interesting and hence I will enjoy this book.

  • 4. Kean Murphy  |  August 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I certainly enjoy twists, thus I am planning to start reading this book as it fits my style of reading. It is indeed a pity that most young readers nowadays don’t have time to read such books. Best-sellers like Harry Potter are engaging and straight to the point, with readers hooked from the start. These kind of books will rarely appeal to the casual reader, who doesn’t want to waste time reading books that are boring. They want adventure, and unique writing styles will not be the stuff they seek after. I hope that more people will take reading seriously and be able to appreciate this kind of writing.

  • 5. Ethan Teo  |  August 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I would certainly want to read this book now. I feel that this review is very interesting and really promotes the book well! Personally, I am not very fond of reading but this book seems to catch my attention. I enjoy twists in books too and I think that a twist in the story is a very good way to captivate and change the entire mood of the story. Also, twists will appeal to readers more since we all like to read fun, exciting books, instead of boring and dull ones. Furthermore, the language used in this book seems to be very straightforward and not long winded. This would further enhance the effect of the plot. Sometimes, short simple sentences can make a great effect and impact on the readers too! From what I remembered, my language arts teacher gave us an assignment once, where we were supposed to write a narrative in sentences with seven words or less. This was a very hard task to me but I managed to complete this task with a little bit more effort. To me, the end result of my narrative was very good. Hence, I think that this book would certainly be very interesting and I hope that more people would be able to appreciate this type of writing and try to learn from it too!

  • 6. Benjamin 2o4  |  August 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    This book seems very interesting. With the review, it makes me want to go to the library to borrow that book. It is written with a teenagers point of view, allowing us to relate to the situation easier. It also contains mystery, one of my favourite genres, as it keeps the suspense, and makes it very exciting. Also, with such a uniqueness, it would be interesting to find out the way it was written. Such books should not only appeal to me, but also others that are around my age. It would be very easy to understand, and should be as good as the review makes it. Therefore, this book would definately be the next book on my list.

  • 7. Jovian Tan 2A231  |  August 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Based on the information i gathered from this book review, I am now interested and keen to read this book now. As this book is filled with twists, it really catches my attention as I prefer books with twists as the story would no longer be boring and mundane, instead it will add flavour to the story. Also, the plot seems quite unique as it demonstrates photographic memory in detail which is rather rare. With the complex plot as described in the book review, i think that this book would be interesting and worth our time. I hope to be able to be able to go to the library as soon as possible to borrow this book.

  • 8. Benjamin Chua 2P4  |  August 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    After reading this book review, I feel that this book seems interesting and I would read if I have a chance to do so. I feel that this book is quite unique as other story books emphasize on the narrative whereas this book focus more on the actions and words of others instead. This book is also written base on a photographic memory which is something new and uncommon. Also, this book has several twists which make the story more interesting. The twists in the story are also one of the reasons why I would read this book as I like stories with a twist in it. I would certain recommend this book to my friends especially those who would like to read something different and more unique. I know a friend who has this book and hopefully I will be able to borrow it from him so that I too can enjoy this book.

  • 9. Koh Kah Xuan (2P4 10)  |  August 16, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    After reading this book review, it makes me interested to read the book. If I were to read this book, I will be looking forward to twists in the story. In many books, as though they are well written, many times the plot will be expected and hence making the readers bored.

    Furthermore, the story is written from the point of view of a teenager, allowing us to relate to the situation more easily. I feel that a book that has such a plot will be a good learning tool as we will be exposed to a different kind of writing. The story is in a form of narrative writing, which is also a form of writing that we do in school.

  • 10. Lin Wei Chen 2P4  |  August 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    have read this book before. It certainly has a lot of twists in it. Small ones and big ones, making the book interesting. Christopher is an autistic boy, he hits people if they touch him, if his brain gets overloaded, he curls up into a ball and starts groaning. He also has strange habits, he hates colours yellow and brown, does mathematical problems in his head just to pass hours of free time. Christopher is a special child. He has photographic memory, which makes the book interesting because it is very uncommon. The boy’s character makes the story told from a very logical point of view.

  • 11. Yeo Eng Chow  |  August 19, 2011 at 1:17 am

    I actually own a copy of this book and have read a part of it before. From reading this book, it brings me back to the days when I was still young and curious about most things. Just like Christopher, I was a very curious boy when I was young. This point actually interests me as I find it interesting looking back at my own past.

    As I have said, I have only read a small part of this book, this book review makes me want to continue reading this book as I have not gotten to the twists which the review says is recommended. With twists, I believe I would be more motivated to read on as there are unexpected things happening at points of the story.

  • 12. Leow Yong Heng (2p412)  |  August 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    I can tell that this book would be a good even though I have not read it before as the review given to the book has made me interested in it. I prefer books that have a twist to them as it always keeps me unexpected unlike books which are straightforward as I could easily tell what would most likely happen in books that are straightforward. Furthermore, this book is unique in a sense that it displays a boy who has a photographic memory in detail which makes this book stand out from other books. It would be fun if we could see our memory in detail like looking through a camera.

  • 13. Justin Foo  |  August 19, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    After reading the review, I feel that this book would be interesting and also worth reading. One factor is because it is not written by just any ordinary person, but an autistic person who has a photographic memory. It is written by a special person, who has different behaviours and tendancies from other people. By reading the book, we might be able to understand how these autistic people feel, so as to have a better perspective of who they are. Sometimes we think that these people are weird, and some people might even call them “retarded”. But by reading this book, and putting yourself in the shoes of others, I am sure lessons would be learnt, and moral values incorporated.

  • 14. Tan Yu Xiang(26) 2O4  |  August 20, 2011 at 12:04 am

    After reading your review, it has definitely made me want to read this book. The special way the author wrote it, the transcript kind of narration was strongly emphasized in your review. And, that made me interested to see how this book was written. I have read books with different styles, and I found it amazing to find so many different ways someone could write a book. With each ways having its different merits, I look forward to see how this book was written. Also, the twists that you mentioned seemed to be play a huge role in this book as well. I kind of like twists as they add a lot of flavor to the plot. I will definitely look up this book. I thank you for writing this review.

  • 15. Ng Siang Hwee (2o4)  |  August 20, 2011 at 12:53 am

    I have read this book before and finds it very interesting. Firstly, this books tells us about how autistic people actually feels. Most people think they are stupid but they are not. The boy in this story has the ability of photographic memory. This also tells us that life is fair. Even though you may be disabled in one way, you could have a special ability in others. Our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long in his recent National Day Rally also mentions about Pathlight School which caters for the autistic people and how they were also able to draw a nice picture for him. The books also share with us how people treats these autistic people, the brother finding him annoying while his mum tries to be patient and accommodate both of them.

  • 16. Patrick Yen Pei Chih  |  August 20, 2011 at 2:44 am

    I have read this book before. I actually think that this is a very good book. I could not stop reading it once I had started. What is so special about this book is that it is written in a way an autistic teenager would have written. Also, what makes the content of this book interesting is Christopher’s personality and thoughts. His other characteristics, like his photographic memory, also make the story more interesting. I think this is a good review as it actually made me want to read the book again.

  • 17. Clement Chia (09) (2A2)  |  August 20, 2011 at 4:55 am

    After reading the review of this book by Foo Yang Yi, I have the urge to read this book. I had never read books in this genre commonly in the past and thus I feel that it is very unique. Being about a 15 year old boy who uses a DVD to recall things in the past, it is like a journal but not a journal or diary. Other than this, the cover of this book also attracts people’s attention and it makes me want to get a copy of it. I believe that this book is definitely worth the read as the plots seems interesting as well as the twists in the story. In my free time, I would definitely like to try reading this peculiar book.


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