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The award-winning mystery novel ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ was published in 2003, authored by Mark Haddon. It is an excellent read for teenagers as it uses a diversity of characters to promote reader engagement through interesting language.

‘Christopher explaining why he likes prime numbers which represents the way he thinks’

The novel shows the world of Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old boy who is excellent at maths but finds people confusing. In the novel, Christopher finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, dead. Despite what his father, Ed Boone, says about not getting involved, he decides to investigate the death and in doing so, discovers the truth about his family.

The novel celebrates those who are different through the character of Christopher which helps readers understand that some people are different and we should accept people for who they are. By giving Christopher characteristics like those who have Asperger’s Syndrome, it helps readers understand that just because people act differently, doesn’t mean that they have a disability or anything is wrong with them, they are still human. They just see the world differently.

An example of this is when police officers arrive at the scene of Wellington’s death. Christopher grows agitated when the policeman begins to ask him questions too quickly, seeming to associate him with the murder. Christopher curls up into a ball and when the officer tries to lift him to his feet he hits him. He hits him because he thinks the officer is accusing him of the murder. He also isn’t good at communicating with people and so didn’t like being asked all the questions.

The language that Christopher uses throughout the novel helps us see that he is not like you and me, but he is still special. The language he uses is appropriate for teenage readers as it communicates the messages of acceptance and tolerance, allowing Mark Haddon to express diversity in society.

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There is some coarse language used in the book, mostly by Christopher’s father. However, Christopher never uses coarse language in the novel and while used infrequently, when it is used it adds essence to the story as it shows that not everyone is perfect and sometimes people get angry. Sometimes the language is used towards Christopher because he doesn’t understand he is aggravating others given he is not very good with others’ emotions or picking up on cues. An example of this is when Christopher is investigating the death of Wellington, even though he isn’t supposed to be, and his father finds out. He gets extremely mad at Christopher and swears at him.

“The novel celebrates those who are different”

Mark Haddon has written the book cleverly as it is written with short, sharp, and sometimes confusing sentences, consistent with how Christopher thinks and expresses himself. This helps us understand how hard it can be for people like Christopher as they don’t know how to feel emotion and it can be difficult to express themselves. This makes readers feel sad and sympathetic for those people, showing they are great people with interesting personalities but they just don’t know how to express themselves. From this, we learn that some people think differently and expression of emotions can be complicated.

When Christopher finds out the truth about his family he feels he can no longer trust anyone, including his father. He isn’t good at interpreting emotions and doesn’t understand why his father did what he did or what his father is feeling.

The novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has some themes and events that are only suitable for mature audiences. However, I believe it portrays the diversity of our society and so the themes and messages that Mark Haddon is portraying are relevant to most teenagers’ day-to-day lives. Accepting others for who they are is a key lesson for all teenagers.

I believe that teenagers should read this novel as it is a well-written, easy-to-read, interesting book that will extend a teenager’s knowledge and understanding.

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