“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is a publishing phenomenon, winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Book Trust Teenage Fiction Award and the prestigious Whitbread Book of the Year. Its writer, Mark Handon, is well-known in the teenager literary circles for masterpieces such as “Gilber’s Gobstopper” and “A Narrow Escape for Princes Sharon.”
The novel opens on the night that Christopher Boone, a 15 year old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome finds a dog killed in his neighbour’s garden, hence its title. From this moment, the reader engages in a “whodunnit” story through the eyes of Christopher, and evolves from a detective novel to the true-to-life physiological reality of mental illness.
Handon, as a master of his craft who writes the novel in a “naive” style that far from being lowbrow, perfectly expresses the literal mindlessness of the boy.
Christopher remains in the mind of the reader forever after reading the book. It changes all preconceived ideas regarding disabled people. The character provides a different perspective of the world, a “down to fact” view, that only he can see, and it is hidden for the rest of us. Far from showing his disability, Christopher shows us his capability of understanding the simplicity of things, and what is more valuable, his unique honesty.
The character shows us his own reality in a witty and intelligent way and provides vivid snapshots of his parents who could be perceived as prone to stroppiness if the fact that their lives had been turned upside-down the day their son was born, were not be taken into account.
Christopher is visceral in his telling without being overdramatic and, on the other hand, he is also capable of surprising the reader with his pure hilarious logic.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is a must read for teenagers although it is capable of keeping all kind of reader on tenterhooks from the first to the very last page.