Review Blog

Jul 30 2013

The boy with 2 heads by Andy Mulligan

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David Fickling Books, 2013.  ISBN 978 0 857 56067 4
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Medical ethics. Richard's lump on the side of his neck keeps growing bigger, so much so that his parents take him to hospital, but things become very strange when he is then taken to a research facility with brain specialist Dr Warren in charge. No one seems to want to tell Richard and his parents what the growth is until one day they let them know. He has another head growing out of his neck. From then on Richard is watched by Warren and his associates, taking him back to their facility if anything changes.
The new head calling himself Rikki is as anarchic as Richard is compliant. He is loud and questioning, forcing Richard to want him gone. But Rikki stays on, questioning the treatment he is getting, questioning the specialists and the school, undermining the plans they have for the boys.
The principal at their school is ever vigilant about the school's good name and so contacts the doctor whenever something goes awry, Richard is taken to the facility, even his parents kept in the dark. By now Rikki's questioning has made inroads into Richard's acceptance of what is happening, and at the facility both their eyes are opened to what is actually going on there. With Richard hooked up to machines ready for an operation to remove Rikki's head, and heavily sedated, it is their friend from school who rouses them, urging them to escape.
This is a breathless read. Accepting the boy has two heads comes easily, and then following his journey takes the reader along the road of questioning established practice, of doctors accepting what specialists tell them, of schools and parents accepting the word of eminent specialists. It delves into the region of experimentation, as the doctor obviously collects cases such as this to delve into, furthering his research and grants given to his facility. This is a thriller of exceptional design asking moral questions which beg to be answered.
Fran Knight

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