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There are many different ways to approach the protagonist of a book. The most common is to make him sympathetic. Rarely do authors have a wholly unsympathetic protagonist, and when they do, it’s often to make a point. But in The Curious Case Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon writes the protagonist, Christopher Boone, as wholly unsympathetic, and, as far as I can tell, the author is making no point.
The book revolves around Christopher Boone, who lives in a small town, Swindon, in England. The title refers to the mystery of a dog Christopher finds dead in his neighborhood, and, like his favorite literary character Sherlock Holmes, decides to investigate this case. But the investigation is never engrossing, and only lasts for the first half of the book. Really, it’s only an interesting framing device for the real protagonist of the book, and the real plot. Christopher’s father.
Christopher himself is a special needs child, and at fifteen hates to be touched, is an extremely picky eater, uncommunicative, and bases his days around the colors of the cars on the way to school. While the author says that he didn’t do any research, it is made explicitly clear over the course of the book that Chris has some form of Autism, probably Asperger’s syndrome, and is likely a mild savant, indicated by his incredible memory and high proficiency in mathematics.
And so, this book is like so many other plots, especially common in tearjerker movies, books and television episodes. The troubled parents with their autistic kid and how they deal with him, how they grow, how they become a better family. The child, while the focus of such plots, is never treated as much more than an object, a plot device. This book attempts to avert that by telling the real plot, the conflict between Christopher’s family, through his eyes and his unique perspective. It attempts to humanize this object. But for whatever reason, because of Haddon’s lack of research, because of his presumptive ideas about special needs children, or just because he thought it would be interesting, Christopher is practically emotionless, with definite sociopathic tendencies and his absolute pseudo-logic that governs his every action. This plot device loses something even as Haddon tries to make it gain something. Instead of being an innocent bystander as his family fights over him while still trying to maintain his interests, we see why they fight. We see that Christopher has no redeeming features. There’s nothing to make anyone like him, to make anyone want to be inside his head for two hundred and twenty-six pages. Heck, I was tired of him by page seven after he assaults a policeman. I think I liked it better when the plot device wasn’t human and it was just that, a plot device. Maybe in the hands of a more capable author Christopher, despite his utter foreignness to a normal person, could have become a human and demonstrated that he was worthy as an actual character instead of merely a catalyst for the plot. In fact, this is one of the most common criticisms I’ve seen with the book. That Christopher, an obvious person with Asperger’s whether the author wants to admit it or not, is portrayed as absolutely emotionless when people as high functioning as he is aren’t. Like us, they feel emotions, and the popularity of A Dog in the Night-Time has contributed to a general ignorance about special needs people.
But unlike Christopher, the book isn’t completely beyond redemption. As I said earlier, the real protagonist is the father and his struggles. And that’s where I found the book interesting. I found him to be the most well developed character and by far the most human. His trials and tribulations held my interest, I felt for him and sympathized with him. At least until Christopher intruded with another numbingly embarrassing conversation with anyone he meets, or some random fact with little bearing on the plot besides to establish him as different, or, my favorite, his dreams about everyone
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - Zachary - Goodreads
A decent book overall with a few annoying tidbits and boring points. The narrator tended to go off topic and drone on about little topics that didn't have any major effect on the books plot. A lot of ... Read full review
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - Megan Patch - Goodreads
( Spoiler Warning) The book had both its pros and cons. First the pros. The book is written as if the main character (Christopher), an autistic boy, wrote it. It adds a very different style of writing ... Read full review
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - Sameer Samtani - Goodreads
This book by Mark Haddon is a very interesting book, I don't think I've read anything like this. This is a mystery book and I haven't read one in a while, so i decided to read this book. As I began ... Read full review
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - Abby Struminski - Goodreads
The book "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" was a summer reading assignment I had to do this summer for my high school. I was a little skeptical going into this read because I didn't ... Read full review
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - Marilyn Fontane - Goodreads
The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is an extremely well-written, sensitive book. Its narrator Christopher Boone has autism. The details he knows about math and science ... Read full review
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - Rebekah - Goodreads
I would give it a 3.5 stars because it provided a whole new perspective from a different kind of protagonist. Amazing and as frustrating as it gets, I liked how the author could bring out that emotion and of course, the references to Sherlock and Prime Numbers, etc. Read full review
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - Guchu Nathani - Goodreads
Well the book is just what 2 stars say on goodreads, it was ok. But then I compared it to other books I have rated 2 stars and ended up giving this one 3. I was unable to feel for any of the ... Read full review
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - Laura - Goodreads
I rated this with three stars because it was a mediocre book. This wasn't my first book in which the main character has asperger's, otherwise the rating would possibly be higher, but at this point I ... Read full review
Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeUser Review - Adrian Curtin - Goodreads
A quirky story from an autistic narrator (Christopher) who unravels his world while investigating the death of his neighbor's dog. Although certainly not a mystery novel, the novel is kind of cute in ... Read full review