When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan

Challenge 8 – “A funny book.”


★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

I read this with the mind to place it in this category, particularly as the reviews I was seeing promised stomachache-inducing levels of entertainment, but I didn’t find that was the case. It is likely it was simply not my kind of humour, but I felt the main promotion of the book (particularly through the quotes on the cover) encourage this idea, leading to a little bit of a let down.

The book itself was enjoyable. Conaghan had clearly researched heavily not only into Tourette’s, but other syndromes, disorders and conditions. It took a while, however, for this knowledge to be actively conveyed to the reader. His writing of events and reactions was informed from the very start, but it is nearing the end until the reader is educated on what Tourette’s is. Had such an issue be introduced earlier on, the reader is likely to have gained a greater awareness of the syndrome, and could have been informed in more depth.

The plot, whilst a little predictable, was well-paced and Conaghan managed not to drag out the individual details or storylines. The characters were strong entities and it was clear each had a role in the story itself. Combined, however, these elements were let down by the writing. I appreciate the idea of the story being told from Dylan’s perspective, but I found it was distracting from the rest of the novel and made it difficult for me to engage with the book. Line after line of single words makes the reader flash through the book, but achieves little else.

Nevertheless, an enjoyable read that one could liken to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (where the protagonist’s point of view definitely did work). Recommended for fans of Mark Haddon or Judy Bloom, it is an informative, light-hearted read, but not (I would say) my strong contender for the Carnegie Award 2015.­

Recommended for fans of:

  • Just In Case by Meg Rosoff
  • Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

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