I'm not really sure what to say about this one. I really can't generate strong feelings one way or another on its behalf. It wasn't bad but it wasn't good - and conversely, it wasn't good but it wasn't bad. It had likable moments and parts that I laughed at. And some of Haddon's descriptions were priceless (e.g., the "chickeny scrotum" bit). But then there was the rest of it. I kept feeling that if it was either good or bad, I would have relished finishing it so that I could relish talking about it.
But it wasn't. And so I didn't. It was, I guess, the most mediocre book I've ever read. Everything works as a perfect counter-balance for everything else.
The characters are almost uniformly unlikeable - as well as being flatly conceived. But then the tone of the book is largely humourous and brisk. Every event in the novel feels contrived and every dialogue scripted. But the things that are said are sometimes funny and the situations make it possible for more funny things to be said. And so on.
In then end, if you ask me whether I liked the book, I'd simply have to respond with a shrug and one of those perplexed looks that doubles for I don't know.
NOTE: far more interesting than the actual book is the author's account
of the bloody illustration that ended up on newer additions of the book
. Unfortunately, mine was a not-so-endearing cover
. I think I probably would have enjoyed the book more had I been properly primed for it by the cover.