**spoiler alert** I'd expected this book to be about friends growing up in a boarding school, which it was, but it was about so much more than that. T...more**spoiler alert** I'd expected this book to be about friends growing up in a boarding school, which it was, but it was about so much more than that. The science fiction elements were very intriguing, but I wished for more scientific details. I would have liked to know how some students could do up to three or four donations before "completing" (Ishiguro's unique and suitable word for dying). Were they cloned to have an extra liver, a third kidney? I don't believe so, because I thought the general public was against cloning biologically superior beings (they didn't want to be replaced). But I can't see how someone would live with more than one kidney extracted. Would part of the cornea or the cochlea of one ear count as an organ? This irked me throughout the book - that I never knew which organs Ishiguro referred to...if he referred to any at all. Perhaps he was just skimming over that because he didn't know how it would be possible either. An author like Michael Crichton (one of my favorites) would have explained it in great detail. Crichton is certainly superior to Ishiguro in that sense, but Ishiguro is superior in character development and emotions. That's probably why Never Let Me Go is a "New York Times Notable Book," and Crichton's novels are just "New York Times Bestsellers." The strictly science fiction genre cannot compete to win such distinctive literary awards. That's meant to be sarcastic...I wish they could win.
So anyway, this story reminded me of the 2005 movie The Island, a movie I highly recommend if you like this book - both have a protective "world" for the clones to grow up and live in, where physical health is extremely important, although the Hailsham students have a vague idea of what's going to happen to them, while The Island population lives in a far more sinister atmosphere. And in The Island, only rich people pay for clones, while in this book, it seems that the organs go to whoever needs them. The main villain in The Island believes the clones to be soulless, and that is exactly how the world needs to view them in order to accept their organs. But how do the clones live and not revolt, knowing they will die to help someone "more human" than they to live? What would you live for? What's to keep you from killing yourself to deprive society of your useful parts? What would happen to a clone that "deserts" his/her duties as a donor? Is there a strict punishment? What are the laws? So many unanswered questions.
Towards the end of the book, Miss Emily explains how the science for cloning evolved so quickly that no one had the time to think ethically about the whole idea: "When the great breakthroughs in science followed one after the other so rapidly, there wasn't time to take stock, to ask sensible questions..."
While reading that, I immediately thought of the chaos theoretician, Dr. Malcolm, from Jurassic Park, who had strong doubts about the safety and ethics of cloning dinosaurs. Of course cloning dinosaurs is not the same as cloning people, but it still opens the door for that (and also, the dinosaurs were a grave danger for humans). So I will end with a quote from Dr. Malcolm:
"Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."(less)
"...I wrote a book and that means I can do anything..."
What a sad, strange book. Christopher's stream-of-consciousness nar...moreFrom my Amazon.com review:
"...I wrote a book and that means I can do anything..."
What a sad, strange book. Christopher's stream-of-consciousness narration was unique to say the least (I liked how he jumped around from topic to topic, because organized writing can become quite a bore). While I don't see this as a study on autism, many autistic characteristics are displayed - most notably, the OCD. Can't have one sort of food touching another sort on his plate, can't eat anything yellow or brown, the rigid timetables, counting the cars, etc. Yet he is highly functional IF certain conditions are met:
-no one touches him -no crowds -no loud noises -there is order/if things make sense (he always appreciates order when he discovers it in new places, such as the train stops in intervals of 15 minutes)
There are others, of course. But he's basically highly sensitive to his surroundings and cannot cope when strangers, touching, or unfamiliar situations get in the way of an otherwise peaceful existence consisting of his preferred white noise and solving math equations. His mind can't process emotions correctly; instead, he reacts to negative emotions by screaming and moaning. He doesn't think highly of anyone besides himself and scientists.
Anyway, I found Christopher's dreams about being one of the only persons left on earth to be fascinating. He loves it because he can do anything - he can walk to the sea and it's raining and he can take ice cream from an abandoned shop and he can put on dry clothes at an abandoned house and, etc...(I wonder how many times "and" is used in that book!). He can do whatever he wants and no one bothers him.
Christopher didn't like to imagine things in his head that weren't happening, and the above reference was of course referring to a dream, but when he would imagine himself as an astronaut, isn't that a lie? He could become an astronaut, but he isn't one yet. He would look down on regular people who imagined things that weren't real, and yet he finds no fault with himself for doing this. Just an inconsistency. I can seem him as an astronaut, however, and I think he would make an extraordinary scientist if all environmental conditions were met. It wouldn't be good to have a breakdown in a lab full of dangerous substances.
I was quite angry to find out the truth about his mother, and his reaction was to be expected, I think, although if it had happened to a "normal" person, the repercussions would be longer lasting. How did this not destroy him? He is very fragile and though it's true that he hated his father and couldn't trust him for the rest of the book, it seems to me that he should hate his mother much more. She could have made more of an effort to see him, I think. Two years passed!! Perhaps she could have showed up at his school one day since his dad wouldn't have her at the house.
Overall, a really intriguing book, and I loved the drawings (I used to make drawings of floor plans of my house, neighbors' houses, relatives' houses, and stores to put in my diaries when I was younger. I also made intricate schedules and cried if my schedule would be disrupted, but those are only mild OCD symptoms, nothing near Christopher's --it just made me understand him a little more. I also hated places with lots of people; I would run out and hide in the car after church, for example) and appreciated his math and science explanations..most of it made a lot of sense and was very educational. I'll have to look up more about "The Case of the Cottingley Fairies" - those real life mysterious happenings are so interesting to me. (less)
This book is about a tobacco company and a lawsuit against them - however, I was confused when I went to see the movie version a few years ago. The to...moreThis book is about a tobacco company and a lawsuit against them - however, I was confused when I went to see the movie version a few years ago. The tobacco company is not in the movie at all - instead, the lawsuit is against guns/gun manufacturers. Disappointing...(less)
A stunning memoir, hard to put down. Walls is superb with details, a true geni...moreFrom my Amazon.com review:
"Sometimes people get the lives they want..."
A stunning memoir, hard to put down. Walls is superb with details, a true genius. She is a fine example of a self-made, successful person. But throughout most of the book, I was so angry with the parents, her mother in particular:
When the kids had nothing to eat, she hid a king-sized Hershey bar in her bed for herself. She had an excuse for her behavior, whining that she's a "sugar addict." (And later, she refuses to get a job (or keep one, when she gets them) because she's an "excitement addict." Really, it seems like she's rather immature and lazy. How exciting is it to sleep all day or have tantrums about blaming her children for her failures as an artist?)
When Brian and Jeannette found the diamond ring, they could have used it to buy necessities like food and clothes, but their mother needed it for her precious self-esteem. She really lacks motivation to get up and do something about their deplorable living conditions, but is too selfish to do so.
When Uncle Stanley groped Jeannette, he mother didn't seem too concerned and actually felt sorry for the uncle, believing him to be lonely!
She refuses Welfare, despite the fact that her pride is harming her children, a form of child abuse and negligence. They are living in squalor but it's supposed to be an "adventure." The house is filthy with the mold, trash, mushrooms growing in the corners, and the lack of heat and indoor plumbing. It is not an acceptable environment and I'm surprised the gov't man didn't come back. If you really love your children, you should provide for them, even if you hate charity. Instead, she spends most of her time feeling sorry for herself, if she isn't pursuing her true calling as an artist.
And when she doesn't go back to one of her teaching jobs, she reasons, "It's time I did something for myself..It's time I started living my life for me...Why do I have to earn the money? You [Jeannette] have a job." It just made me so angry to hear her talk that way to her own daughter. She has no sense of responsibility. "I've got more important things to do," she also said.
For all her artistic ideals, she is whiny, pathetic, seems to care more about strangers and stray animals than her children. And it was ridiculous how she didn't want to kill the flies and cockroaches, and felt sorry for the big rat in the sugar bowl. She is encouraging the unhealthy conditions by keeping pests alive, so it seems that while she doesn't want to deprive insects and animals of food ("they need to eat too"), it's ok if her children starve.
And no, I'm not forgetting the father. I must admit that I had a soft spot for him, despite his alcoholism. He at least attempted to be a father, showing love to Jeannette and making her feel special,educating her on many subjects. I got teary when reading about how he read the same books on Jeannette's college reading lists so he could help her with any questions. He was more interested in her life than her mother was. But I was disgusted with Rex when he let the man at the bar take her upstairs. Definitely not a saint, but much more likeable than the mom in my view.
I really admired Jeannette in the poli-sci class, when the prof is talking about the causes of homelessness. It cannot always be blamed on drugs and SS cuts - there is a degree of personal responsibilty, as I alluded to in the title of this review. As Jeannette said, "If people worked hard and compromised...they could make ends meet." It angered the prof but I was proud of her. I wish she had told the truth about her background though.
Yes, I'm hard on the parents, but they make me admire the author even more, for breaking free from the traps of her parents' self-made poverty. She never gave up, and I know that if I'd been in her shoes, I wouldn't have made it. (less)