I should probably have read this book years ago, but it was one of those early 2000’s releases that got lost somewhere between stockpiling Kerrang magazines and crying in the corner until the release of the next Harry Potter (soz, not soz).
Recently, my desperation to see the West End adaption of Curious finally led me to pop into my local Waterstones and track this little gem down, because my inner book geek would not allow me to book tickets for the adaption before I had read the original. I just can’t even go there.
So, here I am, finally having read Mark Haddon’s story of Christopher Boone, and I have to admit – it hit me right in the feels. ‘Curious’ is the tale of a fifteen year old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, who unleashes his inner Sherlock Holmes in order to solve the mystery of who killed his next door neighbor’s dog. He doesn’t like yellow or brown, he will only eat his dinner if the components aren’t touching (who wants spaghetti hoops making their fish fingers all soggy though y’know?) and he knows that he would make a bloody brilliant astronaut. Granted, it doesn’t sound like the most high-octane YA offering, but it hasn’t been made into a West End play for nothing.
Full of annotations, diagrams and explanations of complicated mathematical equations, the book could be mistaken for a study of Asperger’s Syndrome. But really, this book is not making a statement about disability. The story has so much more to give than that. Drawing on the age-old tradition of ‘seeing bad stuff happen via a child who is none the wiser’ (scientific term), Haddon manages to make poignant observations on morals, grief, families and how we all process our feelings.
Near the beginning of the book, Christopher says “this will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them”. But it is funny. It’s funny and it’s sad and it’s simple yet exceedingly clever. With thought provoking themes a-plenty, it’s a story that both children and adults will continue to identify with on so many levels, whether you have any experience of Asperger’s or not.
At just over 200 pages long, I gobbled this little treasure up in one sitting, but I guarantee it’s a book I will revisit (not least to try and actually understand some of the maths stuff) again. I just wish I had put the Kerrang mags and eyeliner down and read it earlier.
- Author: Mark Haddon
- Release Date: May 2004
- Publisher: Vintage
- Pages: 226
- Rating: 4/5
- In three words: See things differently.