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    No detail is lost to false sentiment.

    There is a pervasive feeling that Nicki is perceived by the professor and her appointed 'carers' as a purely experimental subject who should, by verdict of established research, rather than personal interaction/bonding with Nicki herself, remain content with living the life of a vegetable in the oppressively claustrophobic confines of a dowdy old Victorian home perched on a remote hill. For me, the narrative begins to flag up the important need for those in charge of those who may be 'outsiders' more because of their nature than any deed against society and, with this, a need to be treated compassionately as individuals who may not be able to cope. No word is wasted, no word chosen until it suits its purpose, enabling Rigby to encapsulate so much back-story succinctly into a sentence or two when needed; so that the story still advances and engages in its very natural dialogue and, above all, in the observations which each character makes of the other characters through internal monologue. This, combined with knowledge and research which is woven in without ever being didactic makes for a very plausible story. The professor's "studenty" son, Rudi, is convincingly drawn as is the prof himself while all characters, not least the psychology graduate, Heidi, in pursuit of more genuine care for Nicki, are clearly individuated, none stereotypical, and so they grew on me and wouldn't let go as I lived alongside their lives vicariously in print. Could anybody fail to be on the feral Nicki's side or fear that perverted science and 'minders for carers' could be trusted in the same way as parents might have cared for their child ? Let the author speak for herself: "... Nicki, she whined, she pined. She hunted on all fours. She tore off the strips of raw meat from the bone. She parted with a lolling tongue. She sniffed and recognised people by their scent. She rooted out bulbs from the ground. She chased sticks and rabbits and shook off water in the same manner as her four-legged upbringer. She bared her rusty-brown teeth. She raced with the pack. She cocked a leg to piss and squatted to dump. All the behaviours you'd expect of a dog." I can't recall repetition of a personal pronoun being used to retain such emotional impact beyond the writing of Dickens of which this is, indeed, reminiscent - but for its subject. The selection of detail, the observation, the determination not to spare the labour before the description cannot be bettered, all gain my admiration and, though the poignancy of this is in itself so powerful if you imagine your own child behaving in these ways, we have a yet equally poignant exchange between Heidi and Nicki : "I thought you could help me to help you. Is that OK ?" Simple, but effective; bearing in mind the gulf between Nicki's behaviour patterns and those of the fully socialised, loved and successful Heidi. Heidi then observes : "Nicki gave a vacant half nod, her moth coloured hair falling across her eyes. She had a fresh gash on her olive face. She wasn't ugly, she just didn't know how to make the best of herself. Heidi's awkward posture and manner, as well as her raw, masculine look didn't flatter. " No detail is lost to false sentiment. This kind of writing, when focused with compassion on a subject like the outsider; the feral Nicki, is worth much more than money could buy.
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    Incredibly twisted story!

    And I mean twisted in a good way. Every single detail is important to the story and it draws the reader in. A great psychological thriller, bringing the reader into the life of an experiment. Human experiment ... with great savagery, by trying to "tame" the wild child. The reader gets lost in the story, with twists at every page turning, it's an intense story. The deeper you get involved in the story the more you realize that the Professor is only focused on his pride for his work, not the wellbeing of his subjects. Yes, there is more than, but that's all I can say. If you love a good psychological thriller, this book should be first on your list. Highly recommended!

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