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[personal profile] pale_moonlite
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Vintage, 2004. 272 pages.


Fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone, hero and first person narrator of this (not-quite) mystery novel, has a penchant for maths, Sherlock Holmes and dogs. He doesn't like to be touched, eye contact and lies. Fictional stories (he calls them proper novels) he perceives as lies, but he likes murder mysteries because they're puzzles to him, problems to be solved. One night he finds Wellington, a friendly dog in the neighborhood, murdered in his owner's garden. He decides to investigate the case and write a murder mystery novel of his own. It's the beginning of a big adventure which threatens to destroy his small, well-regulated world.


To write a story from the point of view of an autistic boy is, to begin with, a clever trick. The whole world is a mystery to Christopher and, seen through his eyes, becomes one to the reader. Ordinary things turn into monsters and what we take for granted becomes suddenly a blur. To solve the mystery, we have to read between the lines, but in order to understand Christopher, to get to know him, we also have to immerse ourselves into his world and learn to think the way he does.

The trick works. The Curious Incident ... is a page-turner, as entertaining as it is thought-provoking. There are beautiful moments; among my favorites is a passage about metaphors or another about prime numbers. Christopher talking about his aversion to eye-contact is a perfect example of how the ambiguity of the narrative works:

Read more... )

[x-posted to [community profile] book_reviews and to my journal]
libelula: Book Plus Pinup Equals Fun (Reading)
[personal profile] libelula
20TH CENTURY BOYS, vols. 1 & 2 by Naoki Urasawa
Viz Media, 2009, 210 pages, 978-1-59116-922-2, Paperback, $12.99
Viz Media, 2009, 206 pages, 978-1-59116-926-0, Paperback, $12.99

Genre: Manga/Science Fiction/Mystery


Kenji lives an ordinary life running a King Mart with his mother and looking after his sister's infant daughter. Excitement isn't exactly a part of his day to day life, and he certainly doesn't have the time to go looking for it. But when a domino effect of unexplained events begins -- including the disappearance of a university professor, the death of an old school friend, and the sudden outbreak of a viral epidemic -- Kenji finds himself just as involved as anyone else. Central to all of these occurances is a symbol that Kenji finds familiar but can't quite identify, and a cult whose leader is known only as the "friend." Somehow these events are tied into Kenji's childhood, but after so many years he can't quite figure out how, exactly, it all fits together.


This manga starts out a little slow, but by the end of volume two, you really begin to see where it's all headed, and that destination looks pretty exciting. So far this story has all of the best elements of an Urasawa manga -- an unexpected protagonist, a complex and interweaving plot, extensive background elements, and sinister overtones. Yet for all of its familiar aspects, 20th Century Boys feels as though it's definitely going to be different, and I'm looking forward to that.

Read the full review at The Reader Eclectic.


March 2014

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