melanie basta and the deathly books

28 February 2015

young adult fiction with melanie basta

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is about Christopher Boone. He is 15 years old and Asperger’s Syndrome. When he sees five red cars in a row he will have a super good day and when he sees four yellow cars in a row he will have a bad day, where he doesn’t eat or speak to anyone or take risks. His favourite book is The Hound of the Baskervilles and he likens himself to Sherlock Holmes.

The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.

Christopher aims to document and discover the mystery behind who killed his neighbour’s dog, Wellington. Astute as he may be, Christopher makes a rookie mistake.

He notes on several occasions that most murders are committed by someone known to the victim, which is why he surmises that his neighbour’s ex-husband killed the dog.

As perceptive as he may be, Christopher cannot actually solve the mystery. His strengths lie in logic and mathematics rather than identifying and understanding human emotions.

Gradually, we learn that Christopher’s father has lied to him. His mother is not really dead. She has written letters but Christopher’s father hid them. She left the household, after having an affair with the neighbour’s ex-husband. She couldn’t handle raising Christopher, a difficult child who needed more care and attention than she could provide. Christopher’s father killed the dog.

Christopher litters his book with scientific facts and observations, and often things he doesn’t understand such as this excerpt fromThe Hound of the Baskervilles:

Learn then from this story not to fear the fruits of the past, but rather to be circumspect in the future, that those foul passions whereby our family has suffered so grievously may not again be loosed to our undoing.”

The things that Christopher finds difficult to understand lead to his own undoing. We’re all vulnerable to some kind of undoing, no matter what we would like to believe.

Although this book won the Whitbread book of the year, readers are divided over whether it is an excellent book or a horrible book. Just by trawling through Goodreads you can see that the top two reviews rate the book five stars and one star respectively.

It is not an excellent book. Nor is it horrible. Both kids and adults can read it and take something from it. The achievement lies in the totally and completely convincing voice of a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s a breezy read.

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