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Never Let Me Go

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  223,523 ratings  ·  15,978 reviews
In one of the most acclaimed and original novels of recent years, 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 alway
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published January 8th 2009 by Faber and Faber Ltd; Export Ed edition (first published 2005)
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Mark Johansen Where would they go? It's pretty clear from the story that these people have little or no legal rights in their society. Maybe they could flee to…moreWhere would they go? It's pretty clear from the story that these people have little or no legal rights in their society. Maybe they could flee to another country and be given political asylum. The story doesn't say what the social and political situation in the rest of the world is. What would happen to someone who tried to run away and was caught? Your question is very much like asking, "Why didn't slaves run away?" Some slaves did, of course, but it wasn't easy. Someone could certainly have written a story that started out the same but ended with these people escaping or rising up in rebellion. But that would have been a very different story. What made the story so powerful to me was the way these people just accept their fate and DON'T try to escape or rebel. Whether because they know escape is hopeless, perhaps off-stage people have tried to escape and been caught and harshly punished, or because they've just been so indoctrinated that the idea of escape never occurs to them.(less)
Malini Yes.
However, if you are a sensitive person, please keep handkerchiefs- lots of them - nearby.

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nov 30, 2007 Trevor rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: almost anyone
Shelves: literature
It is a pity that people are told this is a science fiction book before they read it. I feel the least interesting thing about it is that it is science fiction. I mean this in much the same way that the least interesting thing one could say about 1984 is that it is science fiction. As a piece of literature I enjoyed it much more than Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake and even more than Huxley's Brave New World.

The themes that make this book most interesting are to do with the social alienation o
I can see Never Let Me Go being great for book clubs because it will generate a lot of discussion.

That being said, I didn't care for the book, for a couple of different reasons. The writing style is very conversational -- very much like you're having a discussion with the protagonist. The thing that annoyed me the most about this was the fact that the things that happened (so bob and I went walking to the store and we had a fight about the tree at school) and then the writer would tell you abou
Ian Heidin-Seek
Imagine a restaurant, London, mid-2003.

Publisher: Hey, K, we need another novel and we need it quick.

K: I know, I know.

Publisher: Another “Remains of the Day”. Something Hollywood can turn into a hit.

K: I’m working on it.

Publisher: Any ideas?

K: Well, I’ve been reading some Jonathan Swift.

Publisher: Who?

K: You know, “Gulliver’s Travels”.

Publisher: Oh, yeah, Jack Black. It's in pre-production.

K: Well, he had a modest proposal about how to stop the children of the poor being a burden…

Publisher: I’m
Esteban del Mal
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
It's very important, if you're intending to read this book, that you don't read any reviews or listen to any talk about it first. I had no idea what this book was about before I read it - and the blurb gives you a very different impression, actually - and so I slipped easily into a story that was as engrossing as it was revealing.

If you know something about what to expect, though, I don't think you'll enjoy it nearly as much. It's a bit like an art installation that requires audience participati
Let me start by saying that my review might contain some plot spoilers. However I personally don't think that knowing the plot in advance will in any way diminish the enjoyment of this story. The beauty of this book is not in the plot, but in its execution.

Another friendly warning: Never Let Me Go is for some reason often classified as science fiction. This is why so many readers end up disappointed I think. This novel is literary fiction at its finest. So if you look down on literary fiction an
I did not like this book, in fact I think I could say I hated it, I am sorry to say I even read the whole thing (except for all the pages I skimmed over because they were boring). The premise sounded interesting, intriguing... So I kept reading wondering when the author would drop the bomb, this is why I kept reading. Well it never came. For the most part he gave you bits and pieces the whole time but nothing really surprising. Maybe that is his style and his point but I didn't care for it. Afte ...more
Seth Hahne
I'm always excited when I run across a novel that is, so far as I can tell, essentially perfect. Never Let Me Go is one of those. There is not a single thing wrong with this book. Ishiguro is a master craftsman and it shows here.

The novel's characterizations are pitch perfect. Its narrative flow reveals things in exactly the right order. Mystery is preserved until it no longer matters and then, under the light of revelation, we discover the mystery was never the thing that mattered. Ishiguro pla
As a child, Kathy H. attended Hailsham, an elite boarding school where children were raised to be both healthy and artistic and taught to believe that both their health and creativity were essential to themselves and to the world they would one day enter. Now an adult, Kathy reflects back on her life. She charts the very slow progression of her growth, her friendships with fellow students Tommy and Ruth, and her knowledge, as she herself gradually began to learn about her role in the outside wor ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Very disappointing, despite a promising opening. It is a ridiculous story that is increasingly badly told. If you don't want to know the key plot point, beware of reading the back cover of some editions. :(

Although often classed as sci-fi, I think that's more because dystopian fiction is often categorised that way, rather than anything inherently sci-fi in the book itself. In fact, it doesn't even feel dystopian for a while. In many ways, it's more of coming-of-age novel: coping with loss o
You know those random stock characters in sci-fi/action movies, the ones who never get names or any lines? They're always spending their precious few minutes of screen time getting shoved out of the way as the hero hurtles desperately down a hallway, or watching from a safe distance as a climactic fight goes on, or diving out of the way whenever a murderous cyborg smashes through their office window. Have you ever wondered what those people's lives were like? Have you ever thought to yourself, " ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
In "Never Let Me Go," a fictional story focusing on three classmates from a unique boarding school, author Kazuo Ishiguro deals with questions of loss and mortality that each of must eventually confront. As we get older, as we lose our friends and family, as the environment around us changes and things once familiar to us disappear or become unfamiliar, as we cling to our memories of how things used to be, how do we come to accept the fact that our lives are finite and attach some meaning to our ...more
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro's Examination of Science and Morality

It was a warm spring afternoon, late in the semester. The windows of Ten Hoor Hall were open. The swarms of honey bees could be heard, hard at work in white blooms bursting from the hedge of abelia that ran across the front of a concrete and brick neo-classical building that housed the history, philosophy, and speech departments on the Campus of the University of Alabama.

That was the day I determined not to pursue my intended c
May 26, 2008 Rose added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
This book certainly made me think, but perhaps not quite as I was intended to. I like my fiction in line with Philip Pullman's view of things:

"...If I'm reading something I happen to know and gets it wrong, I just don't trust the book any more. What I ask of a novel I'm reading is that it should know a fraction more about the things I know than I do. When I'm writing...I ask myself: would I be convinced by this if I read it? If I knocked against this bit of scenery, would it feel solid?"

Despair. That's what I felt after reading this book. The kind of despair that suffocates you, that makes you want to break things, or, at the very least, go out for a run so you can let out the agony bubbling inside you.

It's ironic, but Never Let Me Go is about three friends who are destined to let go of everything - their bodies, their dreams, their lives and the people they love. And there's NOTHING they can do to avoid that fate.

I hate what this book did to me. I hate the author for creating
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nandakishore Varma
I loved this novel not so much for its gothic darkness, but for the questions it raised. It seems chillingly plausible that any cruelty, carried on long enough, will be accepted as the norm by humanity-especially if it benefits the majority (like providing an endless supply of organs). We manage this by dehumanising the victims. India's untouchables and America's slaves are just two of the examples. Even when we, as "enlightened" human beings, look back in disgust at such historical injustices, ...more
Shayantani Das
4.25 stars

There may be spoilers!

How would you feel if someone came up to you and very calmly started reminiscing about the time when, he/she had her fingers chopped off by this other person? There is no misery or fury or even regret in this person’s voice. He/she might as well be telling you about how someone spilled coke. I think that is what would make this person’s words more scary.

Kathy is exactly that kind of a narrator; she is excruciatingly calm and maddeningly passive. Perhaps that is
I didn't want to read this book. The standard covers made it look very unappealing... creepy, in fact.

And the cover of the copy that I got is even worse...

Teenage soap-opera...?

I'm not that interested in reading about England -- or about childhood, for that matter; and English childhoods really bore me to tears... I don't read books that have "daft" in them.

I also hate SF (as my GR friends know), and never read horror -- I just criticized a book yesterday (Maurizio de Giovanni) for hanging on a
Somtimes sad is ok. If you are looking for something "Ok sad", might I recommend Sad Keanu.

See it is sad, but kind of funny and people can have fun and have had fun for quite sometime.

Sad Keanu in a boat

Sad Keanu watching football

and my personal favourite Sad Keanu with panda.


With "Never Let Me Go" there is no fun to be had here,none. Not only is it sad and depressing as shit, it is also cold. It is set in England which goes without saying...damp(the worst kind of cold). The teachers are c
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 23, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: TIME Magazine 100 Best Novels; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006 version)
Shelves: ex-1001, sci-fi, drama, booker
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I finally finished reading this book. Finally - is the key word. At first I thought the problem was with me - too busy to read, but now that I've finished it, I realise that the book itself was the problem. I've never read any Kazuo Ishiguro's works before, but this book is just pure boredom.

Now don't get me wrong, the idea, the story, the characters are amazing. But the writing itself is simply horribly tedious. Right after finishing the book I downloaded the movie based on it. It's one of thos
Oct 18, 2010 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Impossible Souls
Recommended to Mariel by: Vesuvius
I both love and hate this book. I couldn't stop thinking about it when I read it in 2006. It was sorta a "random" find because I saw the book cover and thought it looked interesting. I'd read Ishiguro years ago, The Remains of the Day, and liked him. Didn't remember the name, though, so I'll categorize this in my mental list (I'm a mentalist) as an almost-never-was random read of mine. I almost wish it was a never was, because I've gotta keep a close watch on my moods lest I get to feeling too s ...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer (aka EM)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead
This is no way I could put the words down how I feel about this book. In fact, I won't even try. The beauty of this book and how you feel about it, is not in the words on the pages, but the words that aren't on the pages. It is not what was said, but what wasn't said. It is tragic and though the setting might be based in fantasy or make believe, we would be fools to believe that what happens in this book (not literally what happens but on a greater scale- what happens)is not all around us. It is ...more
(You may consider this review spoilery, if you read all of it. I state something explicitly that is below the surface of the book, at any rate.)

This book is a bit like having a one-sided conversation with the narrator. In consequence, it kinda feels like it rambles a bit -- they digress to talk about something else and then a couple of pages later, wrench it back to the original point. In some ways that makes it feel very natural, like someone talking, but to read it, it gets irritating.

The style of this novel put me off from page one. Once again, Ishiguro was very effective at conveying the mind of the character he was attempting to draw. Perhaps I just didn't like that character very much. I found her very disorganized and difficult to understand. I found his prose far too sterile. Polished, clean, shining.... but shining like a hospital corridor under the light of faint fluorescent beams. It resists all human connection, even while relating ostensibly poignant vignettes from ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 6 25 Jan 27, 2015 07:08PM  
Writers of Color ...: October Liveshow Nominations 1 12 Nov 06, 2014 04:36PM  
Writers of Color ...: Never Let Me Go Discussion Part Three 21 40 Nov 06, 2014 05:32AM  
Writers of Color ...: Never Let Me Go Discussion Part One 18 71 Oct 29, 2014 01:52PM  
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Kazuo Ishiguro (カズオ・イシグロ or 石黒 一雄) is a British novelist of Japanese origin. His family moved to England in 1960. Ishiguro obtained his Bachelor's degree from University of Kent in 1978 and his Master's from the University of East Anglia's creative writing course in 1980. He became a British citizen in 1982. He now lives in London.
His first novel, A Pale View of Hills won the 1982 Winifred Holtby
More about Kazuo Ishiguro...
The Remains of the Day When We Were Orphans An Artist of the Floating World A Pale View of Hills Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

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“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.” 2188 likes
“I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it's just too much. The current's too strong. They've got to let go, drift apart. That's how it is with us. It's a shame, Kath, because we've loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can't stay together forever.” 1128 likes
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