Apr 19, 2018

[Books] The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time Audible Review

During my initial Audible trials, one of the books I figured would be interesting to listen to was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, as I had already enjoyed the original book and so this was just another way to celebrate a story I already liked.

So it was sort of ironic that this was not the first book that I listened to and it took me a few months into my now regular Audible subscription to finally listen to this book. It was worth waiting for.

As the story was one that I was already familiar with, it certainly made it easier to focus on the performance related to the story and possibly any additional nuances of meaning one might glean from a repeat reading of a story.

Synopsis: The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time is a 2003 mystery novel written by Mark Haddon. The story is told from the perspective of the protagonist Christopher, who is depicted as someone who is potentially a highly functional boy with autism or savant syndrome.

Christopher is 15 years old at the start of the story and lives alone with his father as his mother is diseased. He's surprised to find Wellington, the neighbor's dog, dead with a garden fork in him. As he puzzles over this situation and this is how the owner, Mrs. Shears, finds him. Naturally she assumes that Christopher is responsible for Wellington's death and calls the police. Eventually his father comes to get him as he continues to protest that he had nothing to do with Wellington's death.

Given his range of interests, Christopher decides to take it upon himself to be like Sherlock Holmes and investigate Wellington's murder and find the real killer. But at the same time he's somewhere along the autism spectrum and finds social interactions very difficult. Despite this he pushes through his constraints in order to ask around the neighborhood to solve the mystery.

What I Liked: The narration work for this audio book was pretty great and really helped situation you as a reader in the mind of Christopher. And given the book is based on his perspective on things as we follow him around in his investigation, there was a lot riding on a good narrator bringing things to life. And that voice really carries you through all the ups and downs in his journey. And it totally made sense for this not to be a full drama with additional actors as we really need to hear things solely from Christopher's perspective.

And revisiting the text made for a nice experience as well. The story remains to be a fascinating depiction of a boy on the autism spectrum and the many rules that define his day-to-day life. I can't speak for how accurate the book is but this view of things felt very palpable and it also felt pretty sincere as an effort to bring this perspective to life as a story.

What Could Have Been Better: Hearing the story read aloud does make you wonder if the word choice was all the best for the situation, but that brings into question what exactly is the vocabulary of a 15-year old boy on the autism spectrum. At times his word choice feels too complicated for someone who barely speaks to people and other times it feels like the narration is read in a manner that makes him sound younger than he should be so it gets a little uneven. This may be a complication more specific to the audio book as I didn't quite feel this way when I read the book the first time around.

And on a side note, it's harder to keep track of chapters that follow a prime number sequence when you're only listening as you sort of tune that part out easily enough. It was sort of a big thing in the book and a nice moment when it's mentioned and you decide to thumb back to check. Alas, differences in format means a difference in the experience.

TL;DR: The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time translates pretty well into an audiobook experience and this Audible release nicely captures what makes the story so great. It's also pretty concise as such books go and is an enjoyable "read". Thus it gets 4.5 of Christopher's rules about what food he can eat out of a possible 5.

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