Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Rating: 5 / 5
274 pages; Jonathan Cape (UK)/Doubleday (US)/Anchor Canada (Canada); 2003

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.

We’re not going to lie – our interest was piqued by the title and cover art. Then the blurb took it up a notch.

The novel grabs your attention from the opening lines: “It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears’ house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on iys 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.”

A word of caution: this isn’t a book for the faint-hearted. There’s some profanity, graphic depictions (no spoilers), and triggering situations. Keep in mind this is being told through the eyes of a person who doesn’t view the world as most ‘normal’ people do.

Curious is narrated by 15-year-old Christopher Boone, who is determined to find out who killed his neighbour’s dog, Wellington. It quickly becomes apparent that this isn’t a typcial story – especially since the narrator (Chris) appears to be on the autism spectrum, or at least has behaviourial issues. This is evident by his awkward interactions with others and how he often becomes overwhelmed by what’s happing around him.

As Chris discovers who killed Wellington, he embarks on an adventure that pushes him to go beyond his fears and strictly regulated life. This isn’t a feel-good story though, there’s a lot of twists and turns that will make you switch allegiances every couple of pages or so.

The story does get a bit confusing once it expands beyond solving the mystery of the dog’s death, and you may find yourself re-reading paragaphs or pages a couple of times to understand what’s happening.

Curious will challenge you on multiple levels and you may need to push yourself through incredulity or frustration but the ending, in its ordinariness, will give you a sense of relief.

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