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readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Rgz Street Team: Olivia Reviews The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The rgz Street Team is a group of teens who bring YA reviews to our blog, led by Postergirl Miss ErinFind out more.

Today, Olivia reviews The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Timeby Mark Haddon. 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time follows the story of a 15-year-old boy named Christopher. While it is not explicitly stated in the book, Christopher seems to have some form of autism. But though Christopher has difficultly with things like noisy and crowded places, certain colors and normal interactions with other people, he has a gift with mathematics and an amazing memory.

"Christopher is thrust into adventure when he finds the body of his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, dead with a garden fork sticking out of it. Speaking from the future, he declares that this murder was fodder for his very own “murder mystery novel,” in which he planned to solve the “puzzle” and find the murderer. However, the tables are turned when the police arrive and make him one of the primary suspects, as he is found with the dead dog in his arms.

"Interweaving his story with his own thoughts about diverse topics such the Milky Way, the different uses of prime numbers (which he concludes are “like life”), and metaphors that connect to Greek words, Christopher pulls the reader through his interrogation at the police station, where he is eventually released, and back to his home. Throughout the rest of the novel, the reader learns more about Christopher’s past and follows Christopher as he solves the mysteries of his present: not only the murder of Wellington but also the story of his mother, who died two years before.

"While the story is primarily set in Christopher’s neighborhood and at the places that he frequents on a typical day, the reader never tires of the setting because much of the book is composed of flashbacks from Christopher’s past, and he takes an eye-opening trip across London during the second half of the novel.

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is an extremely unique, enjoyable, and emotionally affecting novel with a refreshingly different narrator that gives the book a vibrant spirit. Though Christopher has his ups and downs, the reader stays hooked—desperate to find out what Christopher will say or do next, what unusual fact or anecdote they will be amused by (such as the origin of the word orangutan) or simply interested in the story’s plot.

"Because Christopher has a very blunt and straightforward tone, the reader considers a new point of view while reflecting on the actions of the novel. And while Christopher is somewhat distant from other people and may seem hard to relate to, Haddon inserts diagrams, maps, pictures, schedules and even mathematical equations into the book to help the reader feel as if they have been drawn into Christopher’s world and are experiencing what he is experiencing as well as thinking how he is thinking. The supporting characters are also surprisingly imperfect and dynamic, making them seem more realistic than the one-dimensional characters that populate many other novels.

"Unlike many of the other young adult and adult novels I have read, this novel seems to have no specific targeted readership: in one book Haddon has managed to combine a murder mystery, a “coming of age” story and an abundance of entertaining facts about an impressive variety of subjects. While I believe almost any reader of any age would enjoy this novel, I would particularly recommend it to those who enjoyed somewhat quirky works such as J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”

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