This book has been adapted for audio and is partly dramatised."The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs Shears' house. It looked as if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream. But the dog was not running or asleep. The dog was dead. There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog."The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher 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. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. 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. Please Note: this title starts at Chapter 2. The main character has a preference for prime numbers, so he numbers his chapters according to primes: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11 etc.
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The book is great. The story well done. The narration? Not so much. Quality is good, but somewhere between the printed word and the audio, someone just didn't "get it." I suspect the author would be quite upset at the cringeworthy slip-ups in his story. For example, the main character, who lives with some sort of autistic spectrum disorder, says that he counts powers of two in his head to calm himself, and "got up to 33,554,432, which is two hundred and twenty-five." That was allowed, despite making no sense to either the narrator or the producer. What was no doubt written was "two to the power of twenty-five." Also, the chapters are all meant to be prime-numbered. How on Earth is there a Chapter 176 in the audio version, then? Another case of not "getting" it. If you want to hear a good story, but this lack of attention to detail would irritate you, just hold your breath and count to 32,768, which is 215.
First of all, let me say that the performance is outstanding. Absolutely wonderful dramatization! Let’s cut to the conclusion and you decide if you want to continue reading this review. I liked it and it was definitely worth a read. I just gave it three stars because the author could have done a much better job developing the plot.
Now let’s jump to the full review.
The book is told from the point of view of a child with Asperger’s syndrome (not mentioned in the book). First person point of view means that the book will not have a whole lot of description; the author loses the ability of showing instead of telling, but it works just fine in this book.
Unless you are one of those people who hate society’s “mollycoddling” of children with disabilities, you will immediately side with Christopher and find that he is a very likeable little guy. I enjoyed his story telling style, even if at times he got repetitive due to his autistic obsessions.
The book starts when Wellington the dog gets murdered with a garden fork, and Christopher decides to investigate the case, getting in trouble in the process. The murder mystery takes about half the book. The problem is that, by the time you reach half the book, the murder mystery ends and Christopher embarks on a journey to find his dead mother. Is she really dead? Is she still alive? Those are good questions and make for an interesting plot, but the AUTHOR ENDS UP WITH TWO STORIES HALF BAKED: neither the murder mystery is properly developed, nor the story about Christopher’s mother!
To make matters worse, the author exploits Christopher’s disability by making him engage in highly anti-social behavior and putting extremely dangerous sociopathic ideas into his head, which Christopher will gladly share with you. Like the book, this strategy works only half way: On one hand, the tension increases as the reader worries about the Christopher’s safety and the wellbeing of his potential victims. On the other hand, Christopher ends up losing the good will of the reader. Christopher slowly becomes an UNLIKEABLE character. And that is a near-fatal flaw in this book.
By the time you reach three quarters of the book, NONE of the characters are likeable. You do want to know how the story ends, after all you ended up investing four hours of your life, and a credit, and you did enjoy most of the listening experience. While you still want the book to have a good ending, the reality is that you do not care that much what happens to them.
I feel “The Curious Incident…” could have been a great book, if the author would have chosen to develop the murder mystery further, and given up on the story about finding his mother. It would have been a better story and the plot would have aligned better with the title. Christopher’s anti-social side shouldn’t have been exposed so much as to make him unlikeable. Not to mention, that gives autistic children a bad name, and they are very sweet children.
Do I recommend it? If I had a penny for every book where the first half is great and the second half sucks, I’d be rich, so go for it. Besides, the second half doesn’t suck, it just could have been better. And the performance is great. As the tittle of the review indicates, yes, I recommend it.