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

This novel sounded interesting from the first time I heard about it: an autistic teenager decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog. Christopher dislikes interacting with strangers, has trouble with crowds and feels overstimulated in new places, and has a memory like a camera. He's very good at maths (that's British English for "math") and dreams of becoming an astronaut. And while doing his detective work, he makes some surprising discoveries and stretches his abilities. There's a good amount of humor (including a math joke), quite a bit of swearing, and some interesting factoids about math and science.

It says in the About the Author that Haddon has worked with autistic individuals, and the book gives insight into Christopher's line of reasoning behind his seemingly nonsensical behavior. The plot itself is nothing new; what makes Curious Incident a great read is the way it's revealed from Christopher's point of view. You discover that most of the adults around him are lousy people who don't know how to react to him, which is quite sad.

A few patterns I've noticed: this is the third book I've read recently which involves zoos. It's also the third novel recently which sets out an opinion on God and religion (Christopher is an rationalist, not believing in anything spiritual or metaphysical). It's also my third recent novel by a non-American author. That must make it a Good Novel.

Check it out, though be warned that it's so far only available in hardcovers, and as it seems to be a popular pick for book clubs, expect to wait a while for it at the library. (I borrowed it from a friend myself.)

Fed to jonathan's brain | March 18, 2004