Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go is narrated by Kathy, a 31 year old woman. The other main characters are her friends Ruth and Tommy. The story starts normally enough, in an exclusive boarding school in England. The children in the school are 'special', and some of their experiences are truly weird (giving the reader clues as to what may be different about these kids) whereas some of what is described is very close to what one may remember from one's own childhood / school experience. Kathy takes us through her recollections of Hailsham, followed by the youths' transition into 'Cottages' where there is relatively unsupervised interaction with the world around them, and finally to their lives as adult carers / donors.

The reader is given clues throughout the book as to what the dark center of the plot might be. Ishiguro brilliantly unfolds the story for the reader, one clue at a time; the clues are embedded in beautifully narrated incidents that Kathy recollects. The stories don't always follow each other in time, but the author writes exceedingly well - despite the many unanswered questions in the reader's mind, the book is never confusing to follow. And the style of his writing holds your attention such that you will want to read this book in one sitting.

The issues the book raises range from free will, ethics in science / society, and the 'soul' i.e. what makes us who we are. The two things that stood out for me were: i) how well the writer conveys to the reader the emotional repression throughout the lives of the characters
ii) how, towards the end, the reader is made to see that even with the horrible wrongs done to the Hailsham children, their 'guardians' were in fact trying to give them a better environment than their counterparts in other 'schools', and were in fact fighting for a respectful place for them in society.
This second point of course in no way redeems any of why the Hailsham kids were created. The truth is simply terrible.

This book is one of the best futuristic / sci-fi books I've ever read. In fact it is one of the best pieces of fiction - period - I've ever read. I liked it at least as much as 'The Speed of Dark'. Ishiguro deserves all the praise he has received for his work.

5 comments:

chica said...

Is this a translation? I always wonder if translations manage to carry forward the sentiments same as the original work.

Swati said...

No it isn't a translation, the author is British. To my knowledge, all his writing has been in English.

Paul said...

This one sounds interesting, although I don't often pursue sci-fi or speculative fiction. From your review, it sounds like I might expect something akin to John Wyndham's 'The Midwich Cuckoos'? May track this one down. Thanks.

Paul

Dewey said...

This is on my wishlist, and I am much more inclined to get to it sooner rather than later after your review! It sounds really intriguing. I already want to know how the kids are different.

Maw Books said...

Hmmm . . . one of my goals this year is to read a couple books outside of my normal genre. Sci-fi/futuristic books are ones I normally don't read. But this one sounds very intriguing from your review. I may very well have to add this to my TBR.

Copyright © 2009 - I Read... - is proudly powered by Blogger
Smashing Magazine - Design Disease - Blog and Web - Dilectio Blogger Template