Lucy's Reviews > Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
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's review
Jan 11, 11

bookshelves: adult, i-feel-bad-for-not-liking-it
Read in January, 2011

** spoiler alert ** I think mostly I really wanted to be blown away by this novel and I wasn't. It was good, very good. The writing was beautiful, especially in the beginning, but at the end there was a certain amount of limping that took away a lot of the luster.

I'm pretty sure everyone who picks up this novel knows what it's about, which fits in just fine with how the students, or rather clones (and I did quite like the substituting of students with clones even in adult conversations later on), find out about what they are. They pretty much know, but they don't know. Their education about who and what they are is so gradual that acceptance comes with it in the same degrees. Where you or I would kick and scream, their sense of power and control is so gently usurped that they can't seem to struggle against it. Some people had issue with the level of acceptance the students experience, but they expect this to be their lot in life from so early on that I found it reasonable, even understandable, for them to react this way. The majority of the characters' hesitation to rock the boat even with plausible loop holes is another sign of this acceptance that helped build into the believability for me.

The novel had other significant problems, at least for me. I didn't feel the romance between Tommy and Kathy was particularly moving or epic. I didn't even find it particularly romantic. They liked each other and sort of wanted to have sex at some point, but Tommy was almost always occupied and Kathy never managed to voice her feelings. I don't think even their sexual tension was written out well. It mostly felt like two people who would've been inclined to have a pleasant time with each other, but never epic love. I don't think their romance warranted Ruth making uncharacteristic confessions and apologies. If anything I'd buy Ruth's apologies more because she knew her time was short and she wanted forgiveness rather than to put anything 'right' for Kathy and Tommy -- they just weren't that important to each other or to me as a reader (both separately and as a pair.)

It was brave of Ishiguro to do this memoir-styleish without resolution or to have the character play a significant role in anything really. It was a memoir, an understated autobiography told by one of many clones, but it was a little disappointing to know how unimportant Kathy was. It was like a fictional version of Anne Frank's diaries, just one unimportant girl who is important for when she lived and what she was born as rather than anything she did or accomplished, but you never really love Kathy as so many people have loved Anne. I suppose some of it is Anne Frank having really lived, but really I should have been able to have similar feelings had the author done his job right. Kathy should have been alive for me and I should have shed a tear or two for her, but I didn't feel a lot. I thought in the end she didn't do much of anything.

The ending was abrupt and the book lacked important details that would have made the world it was written in better built. I would have liked to know more about how clones came to be. We do get a vague why in the very end of the book, most of it is guess work. I would have liked to know what the four surgeries involved because even with a limited understanding of biology I don't see how four 'donations' were possible with living and mostly not-disfigured clones was possible.

Kathy and Tommy's final goodbye is as lackluster as the rest of their romance. I'm going to give it a three because there was some beautiful writing and story telling going on here, but the characters and the direction it took would have been better served in another author's hands.

I know I'm a heathen.
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Cory You aren't a heathen Lucy. I had a similar, wtf, where is the epic romance and sci-fi, moment.

It felt like I was reading a PNR YA novel, at least, the romance felt that way. It was about the same as The Time Traveler's Wife for me.

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