Author : Mark Haddon Genre : Young Adult No. of Pages : 226 Publisher : Jonathan Cape // Random House
Ever since I read the Sherlock Holmes story Silver Blaze, I have had my eyes on this book. The book title is a classic holmesian line. It’s super vague, yet you are expected to have an epiphany when you hear it, but there you are, as clueless as Dr. Watson. So naturally, when I found this book I expected it to be intriguing. I *did*, but not quite in the way I imagined.
From what I’ve seen, this book has got really divided opinions. People either love it or hate it. And me, I’m not sure what to make of this book. It’s been a while since I read it – I let my thoughts stew for a while – still nothing. I don’t hate it but I didn’t love it either.
I think this is the first book I’ve read that’s written from the perspective of a differently-abled person. The protagonist Christopher is a 15-year-old autistic kid. The writing style is simple and striking. The book begins as a journal of sorts where Christopher decides he has to solve the murder of his neighbour’s dog and document it. Since he likes numbers, the chapters are numbered with prime numbers. Ookay, quirky and clever.
As the story goes on, it turns out the mystery of the dog’s death wasn’t much of a mystery at all but in turn it leads to many startling revelations for Christopher forcing him to flee the safety of his home. This kid hates crowds and unknown places, he has never left his street alone before (other than to go to school, of course) and YET, he flees.
The book is basically about how this boy who likes his routine and his safe, sheltered life deals with the troubles with his parents and their day-to-day life. Since it’s written entirely from Christopher’s perspective, we know what’s going on and we also know that Christopher doesn’t really catch on to what’s happening in his family. The reader is a omniscient, powerless spectator. This book made me sad. Tricky, because since it made me feel things, I can’t really hate the book now!
HOWEVER, as I mentioned earlier, Christopher likes numbers and shapes. He’s good at maths and I’m not. I don’t like maths. There were portions of the book where there’s a whole lot of shapes and numbers and MAPS (I’m bad at maths AND maps, okay? it’s a difficult life I live) and there’s an actual appendix with a derivation to a formula. I’m really glad to have those school days behind me, please don’t make me relive the horror! I’m not sure if we had to read ALL of that to really understand what’s going on inside Christopher’s head. It is possible to get the idea even without the superfluous maths and maps and shapes. So….yeah. I didn’t love the book either. I’ll just say this : I didn’t want to abandon the book at any point, nor do I regret reading it. It was an experience.
My rating : ★★★ neutral stars.