Heads Will Roll

Fiction - Thriller - General
286 Pages
Reviewed on 07/03/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jane Finch for Readers' Favorite

Heads Will Roll by Joanie Chevalier tells the story of the lives of several people who, for one reason or another, become embroiled with Dr. Farkis and his revolutionary and controversial project to transplant heads onto healthy bodies. We follow Kaneko, a Japanese girl whose family feel ashamed of her because she is fat. Her father seeks a new, slim body for her so that she might marry and please the family. Then there is Barry, confined to a wheelchair by disease and seeking a healthy body. Others seek to further the work of the doctor, whilst others are concerned by the concept and the actions of the ‘nutty professor.’ Some have ulterior motives, some believe, others are sceptical and fearful, but all are driven by the promise of fame and fortune. Except for poor Kaneko, of course, who merely seeks to please her father.

Joanie Chevalier has taken a somewhat bizarre and unbelievable scenario and crafted it into a story that might just be credible. The approach to the story by following each character in separate chapters works well and brings the story together. Dr. Farkis is thoroughly unlikable, and so the reader finds themselves rooting for each and every person involved in his evil plans one way or another, either those seeking revenge, or those believing that his unacceptable surgery is the only way they can obtain satisfaction. Well written, exciting scenarios, and a good pace make this story an exciting and enjoyable read with a satisfying ending. Brilliant title!

Lit Amri

Heads Will Roll by Joanie Chevalier takes place in Tokyo, California and San Francisco. The story concept itself is not entirely fiction. A controversial Italian neurosurgeon, Sergio Canavero, stated in early 2015 that he will be able to perform the first successful human head transplant by 2017, sending the media into a frenzy and provoking most people in the scientific community. Obviously, this is the inspiration for Heads Will Roll. Chevalier gives readers the possible outcomes if the head transplant procedure ever works through the stories of several individuals with different personal reasons.

Some parts of the narrative and dialogue can be more polished. That said, it sufficiently shows how the characters’ stories connected with each other. The reading is mostly straightforward. Chevalier handles the changes of POVs and settings quite well. I gravitated more towards Kaneko, who reluctantly abides by her parents’ wish to raise her social status and theirs. Switching to a beautiful body would give them a better chance to marry her off to a wealthy man. Initially, I also rooted for wheelchair-bound Barry Thompson, who definitely deserves a new body, but he’s a bit aggressive in terms of his effort to get his wish. While Heads Will Roll could have a bigger ending, everything is wrapped up nicely. It’s a thought-provoking read from Chevalier which questions our moral ethics on how far should we push for progress in science and medicine for our own benefits. At least for now, I firmly believe head transplants should stay fictionalized.

Kim Anisi

Heads Will Roll by Joanie Chevalier examines the question of how far people would go to get a new body i.e. literally a new body. The head is removed and you can then choose a body of your liking to replace your old body. The only problem is that so far nobody has survived the revolutionary operation and the doctor behind it isn't quite working within a legal framework. Barry is desperate for a new body as he is bound to a wheelchair and will soon die. He tries to convince Dr. Farkis, the "new body for your head" doctor, to let him be one of his patients. And he does not care about the risk - after all, his death is looming just around the corner anyway. But where do the bodies come from? And how are politicians involved in the whole story?

I found the idea behind Heads Will Roll by Joanie Chevalier rather interesting. I wish there had been a few more medical details to explain how this procedure would really work. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable read that also makes you think about the society we live in, especially when you read the story of the Japanese girl whose parents want her to have a new body simply because she doesn't conform to the typical Japanese ideal of being extra thin. I enjoyed how the different characters involved in the story eventually all came together. It was well done, and I would recommend the book to fans of the thriller genre - though it almost could also fall into the horror genre, considering the gruesomeness of placing your own head on someone else's body!