Hello, people of the internet!
Here is yet another book I bought years ago and never got round to reading until about a week ago. It’s a habit I really need to work on, especially when it turns out to be one of the best books I have ever read.
Hmm…what is it I am implying? Is Never Let Me Go one of the best books I have ever read? Or am I talking about a different book altogether?
Well then, why not carry on reading and find out?
Title: Never Let Me Go
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Publication date: 25th February 2010
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewered version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now 31, Never Let Me Go hauntingly dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School, and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world.
I don’t know where to start. Not that it is a bad thing in this case; it’s just that this book has had such an impact on me that I feel anything I say about it won’t actually give it justice. I’ll have to spoil it slightly, but I promise you it is very important to this review. Never Let Me Go is set in an alternative Britain where human clones are created for the sole purpose of donating their vital organs to medicine. The narrator, Kathy, is a clone and tells her life story about growing up in a place called Hailsham with her friends, Ruth and Tommy, who are also clones.
The fact that they are clones, can’t have children and are forced to donate their organs isn’t told to the reader immediately. Instead Kathy tells us as the story progresses. Not only it was brilliantly written this way, but, to me at least, it shows how Kathy accepts this as her fate. It is pretty heart-breaking! What I noticed is that none of the characters state openly whether or not they want to donate their organs. It often implied in what they say. It demonstrates their repression and lack of free will. The fact that these characters are so well developed, I see them as human beings, not clones. I don’t want them to die. I want them to be happy.
I simply love Kathy as a character. What I like most about Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing is Kathy’s narration. She says things like, “I don’t know what it was like for you”, “I’ll talk about that more in a minute” and “I know I’m going off track.” Little bits like that are very powerful and adds a lot of to the narrative. I feel Kathy is actually talking to me. The way she jumps ahead and back isn’t too confusing and I follow what she says perfectly. The way she talks about the past is emotional, but not too over the top. She is calm about her future, but that doesn’t stop her from crying a little. She is the perfect protagonist of this story and one of the best protagonists I have ever read.
As for Ruth and Tommy, they were well written and both mixed and clashed well with Kathy and each other, in a way that natural, real life friendships are like. There are heart-warming moments between them, especially when they have their heart-to-heart discussions, and anyone reading this book can tell how much they mean to Kathy. When they clash and fall out, it tears me apart. I get furious at Ruth and her more controlling, harsh moments towards Kathy and Tommy, but when she apologises in her own way, it’s hard for me to hate her. To me, she is one of the most complicated characters in this book, but one I can understand and connect with. As for Tommy, I really feel for him! I hate it when he is being made fun of. He is such a sweet character, I want to hug him!
The setting itself is very good. This alternative Britain is both similar and new. As I was reading it, I understood how it was different and how it worked. At the end, when the main mysteries about Madame’s art gallery and deferrals are explained (not in a way that is distorting to the rest of narrative, of course, it does flow naturally and was well paced), it adds to the whole atmosphere as well as gave a strong idea of how this world saw clones, or students as Kathy and some other characters describe them, and reacted to them. That being said, it doesn’t explain everything. I did find myself thinking, “How are they created? Which vital organs are taken first? How can they survive without them in between donations? What medical breakthrough started this whole movement?” These questions weren’t answered, but then again they weren’t supposed to be. Instead, Never Let Me Go focuses more on the moral aspects. There is no huge discussion about the pros and cons of this movement and is talked about briefly, yet it has a huge impact on the whole story. To think that Kathy and the other students are seen as less than human by the world they live in is simply horrible to me. I see them as human, not as clones. And this is because of Ishiguro’s amazing writing. If it had been written terribly, this books wouldn’t have worked.
I love this book to pieces. I may have known what was going to happen in the story, but this is a very powerful, emotional read. I’ll give Never Let Me Go 4.5 stars out of 5. If this sounds interesting to you, don’t hesitate to read it.
Thank you for reading!