Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Published: May 18th 2004
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the colour yellow.
Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbour’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.
This book has been on my to-read list for ages. I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it. If anything, I’ve never read a book from the point-of-view of an autistic protagonist before so that was a nice experience, especially because of Christopher’s detailed explanations on how he sees the world and his quirk of demonstrating mathematical theories/calculations that he finds interesting or soothing.
One of my favourite quotes:
“ I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.”
However, it did initially take me a while to engross myself in this novel but simply because I was being a bit picky, and thought Christopher was a little boring. After he introduced himself, his writing style and his reason for starting to write his book, I eventually became entranced and I read the rest of the novel in one sitting, hanging off the edge of my bed! I think the second half of the novel is much more interesting, but that seems to be an unpopular opinion!
“It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs Shears’ house. Its eyes were closed.” The opening sentences detail immediately the character of Christopher – he is very precise and particular, he’s descriptive and Mrs Shears’ dog Wellington is what he wants to write about. He likes dogs, not people, and has his heart set on finding out who murdered him, but for a young, autistic boy who doesn’t talk to strangers or tell lies, it’s hard.
For me, the most poignant feature of the novel is the hardships of Christopher’s family, especially his father. Without spoiling anything, after all is done, the heartbreak of Ed, his dad, is truly devastating – Christopher does not remotely understand the difference between good lies and bad lies, he simply knows that anything other than a white lie is bad. So when his dad reveals he has lied, he becomes frightened. I can’t at all imagine how it must feel to see your child so terrified of you. You see so many lives hurting in the background, and so many feelings that Christopher can’t understand. He finds himself in many situations he cannot understand but we, as readers, can.
I love how it makes you feel excited and terrified. I love how it turns a trip to the Underground into an epic adventure. I love his diagrams. I would recommend this to a friend, but only those who I know could get past the combination of a child-like writing style and Christopher’s intelligent explanations.