The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
One of the factors that lends uniqueness to a novel is the author's narrative style and this style naturally gains more importance when the book is a first person narrative. Mark Haddon's first novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has a very unique narrator who lends the story an emotional core that very few books manage to create.
The book is narrated by Christoper Boone, a 15-year-old autistic boy, who is being brought up by his father since his mother died from a heart attack. Christopher comes across a neighbor's dog killed by a pitchfork and takes it upon himself to find out who did it. But as he investigates, he finds out more about his family and has to conquer his fears to step beyond boundaries that he has never crossed before.
There have been movies(Rain Man, Mercury Rising to name a couple) that had important characters who were autistic. But we were mere observers to their behavior in those cases. By making an autistic boy the narrator of the story, Haddon allows us a peek into his mind here and that makes for fascinating reading. We've seen the characters in those movies groan loudly on hearing strange noises, do math blazingly fast and be scared of new people and crowds. But here we understand the reasons behind those behaviors(and quite a few others). We understand how Chris' mind works and why he does the things that he does. So the book serves as a journey into the mind of a very unique individual.
Haddon has been able to put himself in the shoes of an autistic boy and so the book has a very simple but endearing style. Every line in the book makes complete sense considering the narrator - from the very reason the book was written to its oddly-numbered chapters to the reason why a novel has an appendix with the proof to a mathematical theorem! Even the way the book goes on a tangent at different points frequently mirrors the way the mind works and makes things more realistic.
The murder mystery itself is solved at a rather unexpected point and so comes as a surprise. But this allows the book to branch into some new areas that make it more emotional. It also allows the book to expand its canvas beyond Chris' house and neighborhood, thereby magnifying his problems exponentially. It is a testimony to the effect Chris has on us that we end up hoping fervently that he makes it to his target. The book doesn't have real closure but that works for this book. The last line is just perfect.
PS: This book was recommended by one of the commenters in one of my previous posts. I had never heard of this book before that and can say with certainty that I wouldn't have read it if not for the recommendation. I couldn't find the post and so do not know what the commentor was. But whoever it was... Thank You!