In one word: Captivating.
After having read two Victorian novels (Jane Eyre and North and South), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was a welcomed juxtaposition with its rapid pace and beautifully stylized first person voice.
From its very first paragraphs, its obvious that Christopher, the novel’s protagonist, is different from the “normal/average” people he encounters. Many have speculated that he has a high-functioning autism, but even Haddon, the author himself, has said the actual disorder is meant to be vague. Regardless, his quirks really help flesh him out as a character and give the writing its own unique rhythm. And Christopher even gives the reader pictures, so one can more easily glimpse inside the way his mind works. These pictures were a wonderful touch. Sometimes ideas like this can feel gimmicky, but Haddon uses the pictures sparingly and only to add to the text itself. Really, the style of this book is a great accomplishment. Through mostly simple language and pictures, Haddon was able to create a complex book that felt unlike anything I’ve read before. The subtlety of Christopher’s language about his emotions made the feelings pop off the page – you really had to work with him to truly understand how he might be feeling at any given point in time; after a while, you begin to learn more of what he really means and know how frightened or happy he must have been.
The book’s plot moved seamlessly. While Christopher does interject with seemingly random thoughts about anything from colors of cars, to explanations of math problems, the actual meat of what’s moving the action is clear-cut and flows from one event to the next. While the plot does get messier (in a good way) as one learns more about the characters, its clearness helps put all the focus on Christopher and the way in which he recounts his daily activities, fears, interests, and the conversations he has.
If you’re looking for a captivating and easy read, with tons of depth, and a unique style of writing, look no further than The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. It has undoubtedly made a big impression on me, both as a writer and as a person.