Thursday, October 25, 2007 by J at www.jellyjules.com
The first thing I noticed when I started this book was that the first chapter appeared to be chapter 2. Hmmm. Did I get a bum copy? Doesn't look like a bum copy. The next chapter is 3, then 5, then 7. Oh, OK, prime numbers. Christopher Boone is writing a murder mystery, and he is an autistic savant, and loves 'maths'. He finds great comfort in numbers and the way they work...it helps him to cope with the rest of the world, which he definitely doesn't understand. He doesn't understand emotions, or people's emotions and facial expressions. He likes maths and science and animals. The book starts with Christopher discovering the just murdered body of a neighbor's dog on her lawn. Christopher liked the dog, and resolves to find out who the killer is, and to write a book detailing his quest. So he does what any good detective would do...he starts asking questions. His questions lead him on a journey where he discovers not only who killed the dog, but also some secrets that throw his world into a spiral that ends with him stretching amazingly outside of his comfort zone.
What I liked best about the book, I think, was Christopher's 'voice'. I liked how he detailed the rules that help him get through life, the rules that can help him to ground himself and make him feel safe when the world is somewhat out of control.
About 1/3 of the way into the book, Christopher makes a discovery that throws him for a huge loop, and from that point on, I couldn't put the book down. I had to know what was going to happen, where the book was going with this, was he going to be able to cope with the new reality in which he found himself, seeing as how 4 yellow cars in a row could make him stop eating and communicating, and he was unable to stand being touched by anyone, even family.
Mr. Jeavons, the psychologist at the school, once asked me why 4 red cars in a row made it a Good Day, and 3 red cars in a row made it a Quite Good Day, and 5 red cars in a row made it a Super Good Day, and why 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. He said that I was clearly a very logical person, so he was surprised that I should think like this because it wasn't very logical.
I said that I liked things to be in a nice order. And one way of things being in a nice order was to be logical. Especially if those things were numbers or an argument. But there were other ways of putting things in a nice order. And that was why I had Good Days and Black Days. And I said that some people who worked in an office came out of their house in the morning and saw that the sun was shining and it make them feel happy, or they saw that it was raining and it made them feel sad, but the only difference was the weather and if they worked in an office the weather didn't have anything to do with whether they had a good day or a bad day.
I liked this book a lot, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I am looking forward to future novels from this author. This book was Mark Haddon's debut novel, and what a debut...it won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year, and the 2004 Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best First Book.