The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time [NOOK Book]


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. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when ...

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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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. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing.
Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As he tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, we are drawn into the workings of Christopher’s mind.
And herein lies the key to the brilliance of Mark Haddon’s choice of narrator: The most wrenching of emotional moments are chronicled by a boy who cannot fathom emotion. The effect is dazzling, making for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing is a mind that perceives the world literally.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of the freshest debuts in years: a comedy, a heartbreaker, a mystery story, a novel of exceptional literary merit that is great fun to read.

Author Biography:

MARK HADDON is a writer and illustrator of numerous award-winning children’s books and television screenplays. As a young man, Haddon worked with autistic individuals. He teaches creative writing for the Arvon Foundation and at Oxford University. He lives in Oxford, England.

Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Christopher John Francis Boone, this novel's self-appointed sleuth, is a detective like no other. For one thing, he is fifteen years old; for another, his sharp, unemotional focus has convinced many readers (and even publishers) that he occupies some niche on the Asperger Spectrum, a connection that author Mark Haddon denies. Whatever the roots of his condition, Christopher's methodical approach to a pet homicide has drawn in readers and award-givers ever since its 2003 release. More than two million copies of the novel have been sold; it has garnered two prestigious Whitbread Awards and a film is planned. A featured trade paperback and NOOK Book.

The Los Angeles Times
Haddon's book is a bit like watching a DVD with a commentary track. There is the story that Christopher relates as he understands it alongside the story that he doesn't fully grasp. His favorite book is The Hound of the Baskervilles -- that's where the title comes from -- and he's aware of the demands of the mystery genre. One ongoing device is his comically self-conscious deployment of hard-boiled police procedural phrases, as when he notes of a suspect, "I might have more evidence against him, or be able to Exclude Him From My Investigation." — Tom Peyser
The New York Times
In choosing to make Christopher his narrator, Mr. Haddon has deliberately created a story defined and limited by his hero's very logical, literal-minded point of view. The result is a minimalistic narrative -- not unlike a Raymond Carver story in its refusal to speculate, impute motive or perform emotional embroidery. — Michiko Kakutani
NY Times Sunday Book Review
Mark Haddon's stark, funny and original first novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is presented as a detective story. But it eschews most of the furnishings of high-literary enterprise as well as the conventions of genre, disorienting and reorienting the reader to devastating effect. — Jay McInerney
The Village Voice
Incident meticulously imagines the frustrations of an autistic's world, where sensory intake is heightened but the capacity to process information diminished. The hero's brain chemistry is the book's best safeguard against cuteness. He keeps his distance because he has no other option, an unwitting hardass to the end.
The Washington Post
The essence of good writing is a sort of cataloguing, if you will, with the author supplying the details of the world he wants to evoke and the reader supplying the nuances of interpretation. Thanks to the brilliance of Haddon's prose, this back-and-forth works extremely well in The Curious Incident … In this striking first novel, Mark Haddon is both clever and observant, and the effect is vastly affecting. — Nani Power
The New Yorker
The fifteen-year-old narrator of this ostensible murder mystery is even more emotionally remote than the typical crime-fiction shamus: he is autistic, prone to fall silent for weeks at a time and unable to imagine the interior lives of others. This might seem a serious handicap for a detective, but when Christopher stumbles on the dead body of his neighbor's poodle, impaled by a pitchfork, he decides to investigate. Christopher understands dogs, whose moods are as circumscribed as his own ("happy, sad, cross and concentrating"), but he's deaf to the nuances of people, and doesn't realize until too late that the clues point toward his own house and a more devastating mystery. This original and affecting novel is a triumph of empathy; whether describing Christopher's favorite dream (of a virus depopulating the planet) or his vision of the universe collapsing in a thunder of stars, the author makes his hero's severely limited world a thrilling place to be.
Ian McEwan
Mark Haddon's portrayal of an emotionally dissociated mind is a superb achievement. He is a wise and bleakly funny writer with rare gifts of empathy.
author of Atonement and Amsterdam
Arthur Golden
I have never read anything quite like Mark Haddon's funny and agonizingly honest book, or encountered a narrator more vivid and memorable. I advise you to buy two copies; you wonpt want to lend yours out.
author of Memoirs of a Geisha
Myla Goldberg
The Curious Incident brims with imagination, empathy, and vision -- plus it's a lot of fun to read.
author of Bee Season
Publishers Weekly
Christopher Boone, the autistic 15-year-old narrator of this revelatory novel, relaxes by groaning and doing math problems in his head, eats red-but not yellow or brown-foods and screams when he is touched. Strange as he may seem, other people are far more of a conundrum to him, for he lacks the intuitive "theory of mind" by which most of us sense what's going on in other people's heads. When his neighbor's poodle is killed and Christopher is falsely accused of the crime, he decides that he will take a page from Sherlock Holmes (one of his favorite characters) and track down the killer. As the mystery leads him to the secrets of his parents' broken marriage and then into an odyssey to find his place in the world, he must fall back on deductive logic to navigate the emotional complexities of a social world that remains a closed book to him. In the hands of first-time novelist Haddon, Christopher is a fascinating case study and, above all, a sympathetic boy: not closed off, as the stereotype would have it, but too open-overwhelmed by sensations, bereft of the filters through which normal people screen their surroundings. Christopher can only make sense of the chaos of stimuli by imposing arbitrary patterns ("4 yellow cars in a row made it a Black Day, which is a day when I don't speak to anyone and sit on my own reading books and don't eat my lunch and Take No Risks"). His literal-minded observations make for a kind of poetic sensibility and a poignant evocation of character. Though Christopher insists, "This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them," the novel brims with touching, ironic humor. The result is an eye-opening work in a unique and compelling literary voice. (June 17) Forecast: Considerable buzz abroad-rights sold in Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Holland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the U.K.-and a film deal (rights bought by Hey Day, the makers of Harry Potter) augur well for this engaging debut. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Sometimes profound characters come in unassuming packages. In this instance, it is Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old autistic savant with a passion for primary numbers and a paralyzing fear of anything that happens outside of his daily routine. When a neighbor's dog is mysteriously killed, Christopher decides to solve the crime in the calculating spirit of his hero, Sherlock Holmes. Little does he know the real mysteries he is about to uncover. The author does a revelatory job of infusing Christopher with a legitimate and singularly human voice. Christopher lives in a world that is devoid of the emotional responses most of us expect, but that does not mean he lacks feelings or insights. Rather than being just a victim, he is allowed to become a complex character who is not always likable and sometimes demonstrates menacing qualities that give this well-trod narrative path much-needed freshness. The novel is being marketed to a YA audience, but strong language and adult situations make this a good title for sophisticated readers of all ages. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/03.]-David Hellman, San Francisco State Univ. Lib. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-When a 15-year-old with Asperger's Syndrome finds his neighbor's dog murdered, he is determined to discover who committed the crime. Despite his compulsive behaviors and an inability to read other people's emotions, the teen is able to solve the mystery. In doing so he must come to terms with some serious family problems. A rich and poignant novel. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Britisher Haddon debuts in the adult novel with the bittersweet tale of a 15-year-old autistic who's also a math genius. Christopher Boone has had some bad knocks: his mother has died (well, she went to the hospital and never came back), and soon after he found a neighbor's dog on the front lawn, slain by a garden fork stuck through it. A teacher said that he should write something that he "would like to read himself"-and so he embarks on this book, a murder mystery that will reveal who killed Mrs. Shears's dog. First off, though, is a night in jail for hitting the policeman who questions him about the dog (the cop made the mistake of grabbing the boy by the arm when he can't stand to be touched-any more than he can stand the colors yellow or brown, or not knowing what's going to happen next). Christopher's father bails him out but forbids his doing any more "detecting" about the dog-murder. When Christopher disobeys (and writes about it in his book), a fight ensues and his father confiscates the book. In time, detective-Christopher finds it, along with certain other clues that reveal a very great deal indeed about his mother's "death," his father's own part in it-and the murder of the dog. Calming himself by doing roots, cubes, prime numbers, and math problems in his head, Christopher runs away, braves a train-ride to London, and finds-his mother. How can this be? Read and see. Neither parent, if truth be told, is the least bit prepossessing or more than a cutout. Christopher, though, with pet rat Toby in his pocket and advanced "maths" in his head, is another matter indeed, and readers will cheer when, way precociously, he takes his A-level maths and does brilliantly. A kind of HoldenCaulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash. Film rights to Hey Day, with Brad Grey & Brad Pitt for Warner Bros. Agent: Clare Alexander/Gillon Aitken
From the Publisher
“Gloriously eccentric and wonderfully intelligent.” —The Boston Globe

“Moving. . . . Think of The Sound and the Fury crossed with The Catcher in the Rye and one of Oliver Sacks’s real-life stories.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"This is an amazing novel. An amazing book." —The Dallas Morning News

“A superb achievement. He is a wise and bleakly funny writer with rare gifts of empathy.” —Ian McEwan, author of Atonement

“Brilliant. . . . Delightful. . . . Very moving, very plausible—and very funny.” —Oliver Sacks

“Superb. . . . Bits of wisdom fairly leap off the page.” —Newsday

“Disorienting and reorienting the reader to devastating effect. . . . As suspenseful and harrowing as anything in Conan Doyle.” —Jay McInerney, The New York Times Book Review

“Extraordinarily moving, often blackly funny. . . . It is hard to think of anyone who would not be moved and delighted by this book.” —Financial Times, London

"Both clever and observant." —The Washington Post

“Full of whimsical surprises and tender humor.” —People

“[Haddon] illuminates a core of suffering through the narrowly focused insights of a boy who hasn’t the words to describe emotional pain.” —New York Daily News

"Outstanding. . . . A stunningly good read." —The Independent

“Engrossing . . . flawlessly imagined and deeply affecting.” —Time Out New York

“A remarkable book from a writer with very special talent.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Curious Incident is the rare book that repays reading twice in quick succession.” —Detroit Free Press

"Heart-in-the-mouth stuff, terrifying and moving. Haddon is to be congratulated for imagining a new kind of hero." —The Daily Telegraph

“This original and affecting novel is a triumph of empathy.” —The New Yorker

“Haddon’s book illuminates the way one mind works so precisely, so humanely, that it reads like both an acutely observed case study and an artful exploration of a different ‘mystery’: the thoughts and feeling we share even with those very different from us.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Mark Haddon’s portrayal of an emotionally disassociated mind is a superb achievement. He is a wise and bleakly funny writer with rare gifts of empathy.” —Ian McEwan, author of Atonement

"A murder mystery, a road atlas, a postmodern canvas of modern sensory overload, a coming-of-age journal and lastly a really affecting look at the grainy inconsistency of parental and romantic love and its failures. . . . In this striking first novel, Mark Haddon is both clever and observant, and the effect is vastly affecting." —The Washington Post

“Haddon’s gentle humor reminds us that facts don’t add up to a life, that we understand ourselves only through metaphor.” —Chicago Tribune

“Beautifully written. . . . Heart-in-the-mouth stuff, terrifying and moving. Haddon is to be congratulated for imagining a new kind of hero, for the humbling instruction this warm and often funny novel offers and for showing that the best lives are lived where difference is cherished.” —The Daily Telegraph

“A detective story with a difference. . . . [Haddon] has given his unlikely hero a convincing voice–and the detective novel an interesting twist.” —The Economist

"Think Huck Finn, The Catcher in the Rye, or the early chapters of David Copperfield." —Houston Chronicle

“A tale full of cheeky surprises and tender humor. . . . A touching evolution.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Funny, sad and totally convincing.” —Time

"More so than precursors like The Sound and the Fury and Flowers for Algernon, The Curious Incident is a radical experiment in empathy." —The Village Voice

“One of the strangest and most convincing characters in recent fiction.” —Slate

“I have never read anything quite like Mark Haddon’s funny and agonizingly honest book, or encountered a narrator more vivid and memorable. I advise you to buy two copies; you won’t want to lend yours out.” —Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha

“At once funny and achingly sad, this thought-provoking debut may leave us wondering if our worn coping skills are really any better than Christopher’s.” —The News and Observer

“Filled with humor and pain, [The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time] verges on profundity.” —San Jose Mercury News

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time brims with imagination, empathy, and vision–plus it’s a lot of fun to read.” —Myla Goldberg, author of Bee Season

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400079070
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/18/2004
  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 5,543
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Mark Haddon is a writer and illustrator of numerous award-winning children's books and television adaptations. As a young man, Haddon worked with autistic individuals. He currently teaches creative writing for the Arvon Foundation and at Oxford University. He lives in Oxford, England.
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Read an Excerpt

2. It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears's house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on its 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. The points of the fork must have gone all the way through the dog and into the ground because the fork had not fallen over. I decided that the dog was probably killed with the fork because I could not see any other wounds in the dog and I do not think you would stick a garden fork into a dog after it had died for some other reason, like cancer, for example, or a road accident. But I could not be certain about this.

I went through Mrs. Shears's gate, closing it behind me. I walked onto her lawn and knelt beside the dog. I put my hand on the muzzle of the dog. It was still warm.

The dog was called Wellington. It belonged to Mrs. Shears, who was our friend. She lived on the opposite side of the road, two houses to the left.

Wellington was a poodle. Not one of the small poodles that have hairstyles but a big poodle. It had curly black fur, but when you got close you could see that the skin underneath the fur was a very pale yellow, like chicken.

I stroked Wellington and wondered who had killed him, and why.

3. My name is Christopher John Francis Boone. I know all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,057.

Eight years ago, when I first met Siobhan, she showed me this picture and I knew that it meant "sad," which is what I felt when I found the dead dog.

Then she showed me this picture and I knew that it meant "happy," like when I'm reading about the Apollo space missions, or when I am still awake at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. in the morning and I can walk up and down the street and pretend that I am the only person in the whole world.

Then she drew some other pictures but I was unable to say what these meant.

I got Siobhan to draw lots of these faces and then write down next to them exactly what they meant. I kept the piece of paper in my pocket and took it out when I didn't understand what someone was saying. But it was very difficult to decide which of the diagrams was most like the face they were making because people's faces move very quickly.

When I told Siobhan that I was doing this, she got out a pencil and another piece of paper and said it probably made people feel very and then she laughed. So I tore the original piece of paper up and threw it away. And Siobhan apologized. And now if I don't know what someone is saying, I ask them what they mean or I walk away.

5. I pulled the fork out of the dog and lifted him into my arms and hugged him. He was leaking blood from the fork holes.

I like dogs. You always know what a dog is thinking. It has four moods. Happy, sad, cross and concentrating. Also, dogs are faithful and they do not tell lies because they cannot talk.

I had been hugging the dog for 4 minutes when I heard screaming. I looked up and saw Mrs. Shears running toward me from the patio. She was wearing pajamas and a housecoat. Her toenails were painted bright pink and she had no shoes on.

She was shouting, "What in fuck's name have you done to my dog?"

I do not like people shouting at me. It makes me scared that they are going to hit me or touch me and I do not know what is going to happen.

"Let go of the dog," she shouted. "Let go of the fucking dog for Christ's sake."

I put the dog down on the lawn and moved back 2 meters.

She bent down. I thought she was going to pick the dog up herself, but she didn't. Perhaps she noticed how much blood there was and didn't want to get dirty. Instead she started screaming again.

I put my hands over my ears and closed my eyes and rolled forward till I was hunched up with my forehead pressed onto the grass. The grass was wet and cold. It was nice.

7. This is a murder mystery novel.

Siobhan said that I should write something I would want to read myself. Mostly I read books about science and maths. I do not like proper novels. In proper novels people say things like, "I am veined with iron, with silver and with streaks of common mud. I cannot contract into the firm fist which those clench who do not depend on stimulus."1 What does this mean? I do not know. Nor does Father. Nor does Siobhan or Mr. Jeavons. I have asked them.

Siobhan has long blond hair and wears glasses which are made of green plastic. And Mr. Jeavons smells of soap and wears brown shoes that have approximately 60 tiny circular holes in each of them.

But I do like murder mystery novels. So I am writing a murder mystery novel.

In a murder mystery novel someone has to work out who the murderer is and then catch them. It is a puzzle. If it is a good puzzle you can sometimes work out the answer before the end of the book.

Siobhan said that the book should begin with something to grab people's attention. That is why I started with the dog. I also started with the dog because it happened to me and I find it hard to imagine things which did not happen to me.

Siobhan read the first page and said that it was different. She put this word into inverted commas by making the wiggly quotation sign with her first and second fingers. She said that it was usually people who were killed in murder mystery novels. I said that two dogs were killed in The Hound of the Baskervilles, the hound itself and James Mortimer's spaniel, but Siobhan said they weren't the victims of the murder, Sir Charles Baskerville was. She said that this was because readers cared more about people than dogs, so if a person was killed in a book, readers would want to carry on reading.

I said that I wanted to write about something real and I knew people who had died but I did not know any people who had been killed, except Mr. Paulson, Edward's father from school, and that was a gliding accident, not murder, and I didn't really know him. I also said that I cared about dogs because they were faithful and honest, and some dogs were cleverer and more interesting than some people. Steve, for example, who comes to the school on Thursdays, needs help to eat his food and could not even fetch a stick. Siobhan asked me not to say this to Steve's mother.

11. Then the police arrived. I like the police. They have uniforms and numbers and you know what they are meant to be doing. There was a policewoman and a policeman. The policewoman had a little hole in her tights on her left ankle and a red scratch in the middle of the hole. The policeman had a big orange leaf stuck to the bottom of his shoe which was poking out from one side.

The policewoman put her arms round Mrs. Shears and led her back toward the house.

I lifted my head off the grass.

The policeman squatted down beside me and said, "Would you like to tell me what's going on here, young man?"

I sat up and said, "The dog is dead."

"I'd got that far," he said.

I said, "I think someone killed the dog."

"How old are you?" he asked.

I replied, "I am 15 years and 3 months and 2 days."

"And what, precisely, were you doing in the garden?" he asked.

"I was holding the dog," I replied.

"And why were you holding the dog?" he asked.

This was a difficult question. It was something I wanted to do. I like dogs. It made me sad to see that the dog was dead.

I like policemen, too, and I wanted to answer the question properly, but the policeman did not give me enough time to work out the correct answer.

"Why were you holding the dog?" he asked again.

"I like dogs," I said.

"Did you kill the dog?" he asked.

I said, "I did not kill the dog."

"Is this your fork?" he asked.

I said, "No."

"You seem very upset about this," he said.

He was asking too many questions and he was asking them too quickly. They were stacking up in my head like loaves in the factory where Uncle Terry works. The factory is a bakery and he operates the slicing machines. And sometimes a slicer is not working fast enough but the bread keeps coming and there is a blockage. I sometimes think of my mind as a machine, but not always as a bread-slicing machine. It makes it easier to explain to other people what is going on inside it.

The policeman said, "I am going to ask you once again . . ."

I rolled back onto the lawn and pressed my forehead to the ground again and made the noise that Father calls groaning. I make this noise when there is too much information coming into my head from the outside world. It is like when you are upset and you hold the radio against your ear and you tune it halfway between two stations so that all you get is white noise and then you turn the volume right up so that this is all you can hear and then you know you are safe because you cannot hear anything else.

The policeman took hold of my arm and lifted me onto my feet.

I didn't like him touching me like this.

And this is when I hit him.

13. This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them. Here is a joke, as an example. It is one of Father's.

His face was drawn but the curtains were real.

I know why this is meant to be funny. I asked. It is because drawn has three meanings, and they are (1) drawn with a pencil, (2) exhausted, and (3) pulled across a window, and meaning 1 refers to both the face and the curtains, meaning 2 refers only to the face, and meaning 3 refers only to the curtains.

If I try to say the joke to myself, making the word mean the three different things at the same time, it is like hearing three different pieces of music at the same time, which is uncomfortable and confusing and not nice like white noise. It is like three people trying to talk to you at the same time about different things.

And that is why there are no jokes in this book.

17. The policeman looked at me for a while without speaking. Then he said, "I am arresting you for assaulting a police officer."

This made me feel a lot calmer because it is what policemen say on television and in films.

Then he said, "I strongly advise you to get into the back of the police car, because if you try any of that monkey business again, you little shit, I will seriously lose my rag. Is that understood?"

I walked over to the police car, which was parked just outside the gate. He opened the back door and I got inside. He climbed into the driver's seat and made a call on his radio to the policewoman, who was still inside the house. He said, "The little bugger just had a pop at me, Kate. Can you hang on with Mrs. S. while I drop him off at the station? I'll get Tony to swing by and pick you up."

And she said, "Sure. I'll catch you later."

The policeman said, "Okeydoke," and we drove off.

The police car smelled of hot plastic and aftershave and take-away chips.

I watched the sky as we drove toward the town center. It was a clear night and you could see the Milky Way.

Some people think the Milky Way is a long line of stars, but it isn't. Our galaxy is a huge disk of stars millions of light-years across, and the solar system is somewhere near the outside edge of the disk.

When you look in direction A, at 90° to the disk, you don't see many stars. But when you look in direction B, you see lots more stars because you are looking into the main body of the galaxy, and because the galaxy is a disk you see a stripe of stars.

And then I thought about how for a long time scientists were puzzled by the fact that the sky is dark at night, even though there are billions of stars in the universe and there must be stars in every direction you look, so that the sky should be full of starlight because there is very little in the way to stop the light from reaching earth.

Then they worked out that the universe was expanding, that the stars were all rushing away from one another after the Big Bang, and the further the stars were away from us the faster they were moving, some of them nearly as fast as the speed of light, which was why their light never reached us.

I like this fact. It is something you can work out in your own mind just by looking at the sky above your head at night and thinking without having to ask anyone.

And when the universe has finished exploding, all the stars will slow down, like a ball that has been thrown into the air, and they will come to a halt and they will all begin to fall toward the center of the universe again. And then there will be nothing to stop us from seeing all the stars in the world because they will all be moving toward us, gradually faster and faster, and we will know that the world is going to end soon because when we look up into the sky at night there will be no darkness, just the blazing light of billions and billions of stars, all falling.

Except that no one will see this because there will be no people left on the earth to see it. They will probably have become extinct by then. And even if there are people still in existence, they will not see it because the light will be so bright and hot that everyone will be burned to death, even if they live in tunnels.
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Reading Group Guide

1. How do you think this novel bridges the gap between literature for adults and children?

2. What do you think Haddon's illustrations add to the story and to our understanding of Christopher's character?

3. Although seemingly ill equipped as the narrator of a book, Christopher's character succeeds in eliciting a wide range of emotions in the reader. How do you think Haddon uses his protagonists voice to touch his audience in such a way?

4. Discuss the relationship between father and son in the novel. How well do you think Christopher's father copes with his son's condition?

5. The author has used his extensive knowledge of Asperger's syndrome to allow us to see the world through Christopher's eyes, how do you think the story further enhances our attachment to the character and our enjoyment of the book in general?

6. How far do you think the author has used Christopher's alienating condition to expose intricate truths about our modern lives? Do you think this was his intention in Christopher's exposure of his parent's secret?

From the Hardcover edition.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1057 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    I knew from the very start i was going to like this book. Haddon, the author, writes this book from the point of view of an autistic child. I personally know people that are autistic and Haddon did a fantastic job of capturing day-to-day life of an autistic child. When i started reading the book, i realized that it would not be like any book I have ever read. Like any book it started of with chapter one, however, the next chapter was numbered three. In the beginning of the chapter the boy (who is writing this book) went of on a tangent explaining that the chapters will be prime numbers because prime numbers make him feel calm. I enjoyed it because some books get boring because they have a plot and all you do is read about it. However, every other chapter in this book diverted from the main plot to talk about something random, because this is how the mind of an autistic child works. Throughout the book i found my self almost getting annoyed by the way the boy acted, then i realized this is because the author did such a great job of captivating the real life of an autistic child. This is written by a British man so the language is very harsh. If you want a great book to read, this is it

    28 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:


    I'm not going to say I'm the authority on Asperger Syndrome (I have it and read a lot about it, but that still doesn't mean I know EVERYTHING about it), but... ugh. This book gets so much of it completely wrong. It's quite depressing to think that this is now THE go-to fiction book for those curious (ha!) about the disorder.

    Part of my problem is that the writing is immensely frustrating, but, hey, I could get past that if I liked any other major thing about the book. Unfortunately, the protagonist irked me to the point of wanting to throw the book at the nearest wall, and the people around him are even worse, if you want to believe it. Perhaps I should have more empathy for Christopher if he's on the spectrum, but it just didn't happen. He didn't feel real to me most of the time, and when he did, he was a smug little jerk. (The whole thing with him carrying a knife around and contemplating stabbing people if they touched him was the most sickening thing about the book to me; it's, hands down, the most vile "stereotype" in a chock-full of them.) The plot is a mess, too, and very soap-opera like. And the ending? Ridiculous, anticlimactic, and undeserved.

    I like some minor things about the book, though. The cover is one. The use of footnotes is the other (I love footnotes, honestly). And hey, even the protagonist being hard (if not impossible) to like is somewhat realistic. (Spend a few hours with a room full of kids on the spectrum and you'll get the idea; a lot of us are really frustrating.) But in terms of portrayal of AS? No, no, no, no, NO. Maybe it's better at getting into the head of a person with "classic" autism, but I wouldn't know much about that. (If they'd said it involved regular autism and not AS, I might not have such a strong dislike for it.) For its time it's not bad at what it sets out to do; unfortunately, many much better books have sprung up in recent years that are much better at getting into the mind of an autistic character. Read this if you must, but I'd heartily recommend reading "Anything But Typical" instead. It's much more well-written, the characters are likable, and it's not filled to the brim with stereotypes.

    18 out of 44 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2010

    Autistic boy ventures beyond his comfort zone

    Narrated by a 15-year-old autistic boy named Christopher, this novel takes readers anywhere Christopher's mind goes on a journey to figure out who killed his neighbor's poodle, Wellington. In "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night -Time."
    While Christopher is out for a midnight stroll he walks past his neighbor's yard and comes upon their full-size poodle, cold and dead with a garden fork sticking out of its neck. He immediately runs to cradle the dead dog, when the owner, Mrs. Shears, comes out of the house and believes Christopher has killed her dog. She calls the police, and when they try to pull Christopher from the poodle, Christopher lashes out and hits one of the policemen. Not understanding Christopher's autism, nor his fear of being touched, the policeman throws him in jail.
    When Christopher's father comes to get him out, the policeman tells Christopher that he'll have a mark on his permanent record and next time anything happens he'll be in big trouble. This takes Christopher from liking policeman, to having a fear of them.
    Christopher decides to investigate who killed Wellington, and to also write a book about his investigation. While being highly intelligent, especially in math and science, Christopher has no concept of human emotion or social graces. In order to investigate this murder, he must come out of his shell and talk to strangers in the neighborhood who may have witnessed something.
    Christopher's father is very upset when he realizes Christopher is investigating the murder. Christopher's mother died three years ago, and Christopher's father had a relationship with Mrs. Shears (the poodle's owner) which apparently ended badly. His father wants Christopher to stay away from Mrs. Shears.
    One day Christopher's father comes home early and sees Christopher has continued writing his book, despite being told not to. His father takes his book and hides it so he cannot continue writing. Christopher, on a mission, begins searching the house for the book, and what he finds changes his life and everything he's thought he's known the past three years.
    Christopher's story takes us on tangents of every subject he thinks about. He details everything he sees and hears, oftentimes drawing pictures of what he sees or imagines. The chapters are short, and number using prime numbers only, as Christopher uses numbers to gain meaning from daily living.
    We realize that while Christopher is handicapped in certain ways, he excels in others, and mostly that he is a very brave kid who goes on an adventure that most people would find difficult, handicapped or not.

    11 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 19, 2009

    I'm Happy I Read It.

    I didn't know what to expect when I picked it up in the store, but I'd heard it was good. Only on about page ten, I found it hard to put down. No doubt, looking at life through an autistic boy's eyes was different, yet intriguing at the same time. Christopher Boone speaks his thoughts, and they made me think of life in a way I hadn't before. There were basically two plots in this book: Who killed Wellington, and if his mother's dead, where is he getting these letters from? Nonetheless, a good read that was full of mystery until the very end.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very entertaining

    I have to say, I have Asperger's Syndrome, and it is nothing like how described in the book. However, knowing that Mark Haddon stated he didn't know much about autism, and that it's just a story, I have to say I really like this book. It was touching and you really connect with the characters. Very enjoyable.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    Very well written

    This book is a very easy read. It is written from the perspective of a autistic fifteen year old. Although some people say this book was poorly written and did not have a good plot. The story was not a story to tell about how the autistic boy discovered who killed the dog, but rather a story to show what life is like for people with special needs. Having some experience with mentally disabled, I found this book super interesting. It shows that people with disabilities are not stupid. This boy was great at math. I know a guy with down's syndrome who could tell you the day of the week you were born on within five seconds of you telling him the date of your birth. This book was written to have a profound meaning. Instead it was written to show that people with disablities are still people.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2011

    Grabs att of my son

    Ok , I havent read this book, but my son who HATES to read was given this in his senior English class...he comes home everyday excited about the book. So my review is this...if it grabs HAS to ne great!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2012


    Everyone should read it. Sooo good

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2010

    This is how kids with autism think!

    This author does a great job of getting inside the head of an autistic boy.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 8, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Upside Down Dog?

    "I have decided to give my chapters prime numbers 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, and so on because I like prime numbers", is how the young boy starts off this facinating story into a world which one could only wonder what a young autistic person life is really like. Your seeing everything through his eyes(words). The young boy tries to solve a mystery about the neighbors pet dog while finding out some information thats devastating to him. You will not be able to put this book down. The curious incident of the dog in the night-time will definately be a book that you will always love.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2013

    Awful. Patronizing, over-written, pointless, and awful.

    Awful. Patronizing, over-written, pointless, and awful.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2013

    Eccentric, brilliant, simple, easy and unique. A must read for a

    Eccentric, brilliant, simple, easy and unique. A must read for anyone wanting to understand how the autistic mind works. For a teacher like me, handling some kids under this condition, this opened up my eyes on the reality on what’s keeping these special people distinct. Brilliant work.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2011

    Great Perspective- Give it a try!

    ¿The Curious Incident of the Dog and the Night-Time¿ was a different kind of story. Instead of giving endless details and insight into the feelings of the character, the author did just the opposite. Mark Haddon wrote a book through the eyes of Christopher, an autistic boy who has decided to solve the murder of his neighbor¿s dog. While his intentions were only to find a killer, he ends up discovering much more than he bargained for. Christopher¿s life is turned upside down in this logic ridden story of finding the truth even if you weren¿t looking for it. Through his journey, Christopher must try to understand the ever so confusing emotions of people and use his common sense to find the true murderer of the dog Wellington. Though this book wasn¿t my favorite of all time, I did enjoy reading it. At first, I didn¿t really understand the writing style or point of the book. But once I read further I understood the point of view the story was from, and it had a way of giving perspective of what life for kids with autism is really like. I believe that others should definitely read this book if they get the chance. Haddon¿s message that we all see the world differently is very powerful and clear in this story. And to Christopher ¿Lots of things are mysteries. But that doesn¿t mean there isn¿t an answer to them. It¿s just that scientists haven¿t found the answer yet.¿

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2011

    A different kind of adventure...

    Asperger Syndrome and an incident that leads to multiple discoveries, is what this book is about. The main character and narrator is Christopher John Francis Boone and he has Asperger Syndrome and he lives with his dad and his pet rat, Toby. His mom dies when he was young, or so he thought.
    Christopher isn¿t your average kid. He despises anything yellow or brown and loves the color red. For example, if someone gave him corn, he would not eat it, but tomato soup, he would. Christopher also will not eat what is on his plate if the foods are touching each other and he also doesn¿t like people touching him. On the bus to school each morning, Christopher counts cars. Not just any cars though, how many red cars in a row and how many yellow cars in a row. For example, three red cars in a row made it a quite a good day, four would make it a good day, and five would make it a super good day, but if it were four yellow cars in a row, it was a black day. Black days for Christopher would include is not speaking to anyone, sit on his own reading books, don¿t eat lunch, and take no risks. Maths is one thing Christopher is really good at. He takes time out of his stories to talk about interesting subjects that I¿m sure you never knew like knowing all the countries in the world and all their capitals along with knowing every prime number up to 7, 5057.
    Christopher started to write the book because of Wellington, a neighborhood dog. Christopher found Wellington dead one night and wants to find out who did it. In order to find out who killed Wellington, Christopher has to deal with many surprises that come with it. Even if it means learning that he has been lied to for a long time and an adventure to London.
    It¿s a good read and I would suggest it to anyone who is into books where the narrator gets off topic every now and again.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2011

    Great Book!

    I gave "The curious incident of the dog in the night-time" by Mark Haddon four stars out of five stars. I chose four stars because overall it was a great book, this book made me want to turn the pages and read more. I loved trying to find out who killed Mrs. Shears dog, with Christopher the main character. I was very suprised to find out that Christopher's mother has been alive all along. The only reason why I didn't give this book five out of five stars was because I was confused at different parts of the story, that I had to re-read, but other than that this book was really good. I would recommend this book to many different people, but mainly to ages 13 and older. I really hope that there is a sequel to this great book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2013

    Do readers know what a review is?

    Why do readers feel they must write 3 - 5 pages of plot summary, revealing story elements and ruining it for those who want to read the book? Did these people ever read a review? A review is not a retelling of the story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2013

    Love it!

    About fifteen year old autistic boy
    Sometimes harder to comprehend
    Swears quite a bit (say its more for older teens and young adults)
    Realy interesting
    Love this book so much
    But one question,
    Where does it say he has aspergers? Every one is ridiculing the author, did i miss something in the book?
    Anyway, realy good read
    Definetly recomended.
    Peace ; )

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 2, 2011

    Great Book- a MUST read for everyone!!

    Haddon portrays the life and frustrations of an autistic child and their family. You clearly got a good idea of the struggles between a family who was separated and the consequences of a lie. While reading the book, any time I picked it up I felt completely separated from the real world and immersed into the world of the book.

    Now for a little bit about the book. It starts off with an autistic child, Chris, investigating the murder of a neighborhood dog, only it doesn¿t end the same way as you¿d expect. Going through the book, you learn about all the underlying deficiencies in his family and how he thinks about each and every one of them. Getting into Christopher¿s head isn¿t an option with this book-you get into his head whether you want to or not. Christopher¿s father forbids Chris from further investigating the murder after it gets a little too close to some personal matters of his father¿s doing. Chris learned some rather disturbing information about his father and mother by accident and reacted like any rational teen would have. Through his struggles, hard work and very logical thinking you watch Chris¿s amazing progress over the course of only a couple months.

    I recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read and a way to get away from a long day or just the world in general. It¿s a great read for teenagers, adults, men, women, just about anyone. I wouldn¿t recommend it to children because it does cover some topics not quite appropriate for younger ears or eyes. Any adult or teenager will fall absolutely and unconditionally in love with Haddon¿s book. This book is a must read and if you haven¿t read you need to buy it now. I definitely give this book 4 stars.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2011

    Looovveeeee it

    This book is one of my favorites of all time. I got it from a library and one of my biggest regrets is not having had enough money to pay for this. The characters and story were great. I love reading this book.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2011


    This is literally the worst book I have read in my entire life. I am trying to figure out why this book was published.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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