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