Plodded through the first half, but glad to have persisted. I didn't warm to the characters right away and Haddon took a while to develop their voices. Interesting, because characters were stuck in their ruts, and the writing itself seemed weighed down by that. Or perhaps, especially in comparison to The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
with its single character focus, Haddon had so many personalities on his hands that he needed a while to wrestle each of them into form and get them all moving in the right direction. In the first half, he seemed to be trying a little too hard to be profound.
Once their lives all started to disintegrate, especially when George started to truly lose it, things got interesting and very, very funny. George's pivotal scene in the bathtub was brilliantly rendered, and the novel picked up pace and started to cohere from that point on. The lead-up to and climax of the wedding scene was similarly fabulous, reading like a French farce.
A note on style: I loved (but again, only really noticed by the half-way point--was this intentional?) the step back in time and change of perspective at each chapter break as the story unfolded. The technique was not as overt and clearly-demarcated as Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible
, and more integrated with the main plot. The effect was one of truly being able to see the events from each character's perspective, and gaining empathy with each of them. The link to theme was therefore powerful, illustrating people bonded by blood and family ties, but feeling misunderstood, lonely and remote from each other because of their own lack of self-awareness and ability to empathize and communicate honestly with each other.
As the story went on, as the characters were growing closer to each other and gaining insight into their own motivations, the "steps back" became closer in time, which is perhaps why I only started to notice them at about the half-way point.
This one'll make a fine movie, I think. Is Hugh Grant old enough now to play George?