Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Sometimes profound characters come in unassuming packages. In this instance, it is Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old autistic savant with a passion for primary numbers and a paralyzing fear of anything that happens outside of his daily routine. When a neighbor's dog is mysteriously killed, Christopher decides to solve the crime in the calculating spirit of his hero, Sherlock Holmes. Little does he know the real mysteries he is about to uncover. The author does a revelatory job of infusing Christopher with a legitimate and singularly human voice. Christopher lives in a world that is devoid of the emotional responses most of us expect, but that does not mean he lacks feelings or insights. Rather than being just a victim, he is allowed to become a complex character who is not always likable and sometimes demonstrates menacing qualities that give this well-trod narrative path much-needed freshness. The novel is being marketed to a YA audience, but strong language and adult situations make this a good title for sophisticated readers of all ages. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/03.]-David Hellman, San Francisco State Univ. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Christopher Boone, the autistic 15-year-old narrator of this revelatory novel, relaxes by groaning and doing math problems in his head, eats red-but not yellow or brown-foods and screams when he is touched. Strange as he may seem, other people are far more of a conundrum to him, for he lacks the intuitive "theory of mind" by which most of us sense what's going on in other people's heads. When his neighbor's poodle is killed and Christopher is falsely accused of the crime, he decides that he will take a page from Sherlock Holmes (one of his favorite characters) and track down the killer. As the mystery leads him to the secrets of his parents' broken marriage and then into an odyssey to find his place in the world, he must fall back on deductive logic to navigate the emotional complexities of a social world that remains a closed book to him. In the hands of first-time novelist Haddon, Christopher is a fascinating case study and, above all, a sympathetic boy: not closed off, as the stereotype would have it, but too open-overwhelmed by sensations, bereft of the filters through which normal people screen their surroundings. Christopher can only make sense of the chaos of stimuli by imposing arbitrary patterns ("4 yellow cars in a row made it a Black Day, which is a day when I don't speak to anyone and sit on my own reading books and don't eat my lunch and Take No Risks"). His literal-minded observations make for a kind of poetic sensibility and a poignant evocation of character. Though Christopher insists, "This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them," the novel brims with touching, ironic humor. The result is an eye-opening work in a unique and compelling literary voice. (June 17) Forecast: Considerable buzz abroad-rights sold in Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Holland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the U.K.-and a film deal (rights bought by Hey Day, the makers of Harry Potter) augur well for this engaging debut. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Adult/High School-When a 15-year-old with Asperger's Syndrome finds his neighbor's dog murdered, he is determined to discover who committed the crime. Despite his compulsive behaviors and an inability to read other people's emotions, the teen is able to solve the mystery. In doing so he must come to terms with some serious family problems. A rich and poignant novel. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The hero of Haddon's debut novel is 15-year-old Christopher Boone, an autistic math genius who has just discovered the dead body of his neighbor's poodle, Wellington. Wellington was killed with a garden fork, and Christopher decides that, like his idol Sherlock Holmes, he's going to find the killer. Wellington's owner, Mrs. Shears, refuses to speak to Christopher about the matter, and his father tells him to stop investigating. But there is another mystery involving Christopher's mother, who died two years ago. So why does Siobhan, Christopher's social worker, react with surprise when Christopher mentions her death? And why does Christopher's father hate Mrs. Shears' estranged husband? The mystery of Wellington's death begins to unveil the answers to questions in his own life, and Christopher, who is unable to grasp even the most basic emotions, struggles with the reality of a startling deception. Narrated by the unusual and endearing Christopher, who alternates between analyzing mathematical equations and astronomy and contemplating the deaths of Wellington and his mother, the novel is both fresh and inventive. --Kristine Huntley
Kirkus Book Review
Britisher Haddon debuts in the adult novel with the bittersweet tale of a 15-year-old autistic who's also a math genius. Christopher Boone has had some bad knocks: his mother has died (well, she went to the hospital and never came back), and soon after he found a neighbor's dog on the front lawn, slain by a garden fork stuck through it. A teacher said that he should write something that he "would like to read himself"--and so he embarks on this book, a murder mystery that will reveal who killed Mrs. Shears's dog. First off, though, is a night in jail for hitting the policeman who questions him about the dog (the cop made the mistake of grabbing the boy by the arm when he can't stand to be touched--any more than he can stand the colors yellow or brown, or not knowing what's going to happen next). Christopher's father bails him out but forbids his doing any more "detecting" about the dog-murder. When Christopher disobeys (and writes about it in his book), a fight ensues and his father confiscates the book. In time, detective-Christopher finds it, along with certain other clues that reveal a very great deal indeed about his mother's "death," his father's own part in it--and the murder of the dog. Calming himself by doing roots, cubes, prime numbers, and math problems in his head, Christopher runs away, braves a train-ride to London, and finds--his mother. How can this be? Read and see. Neither parent, if truth be told, is the least bit prepossessing or more than a cutout. Christopher, though, with pet rat Toby in his pocket and advanced "maths" in his head, is another matter indeed, and readers will cheer when, way precociously, he takes his A-level maths and does brilliantly. A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.