unnarrator's Reviews > Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
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's review
Nov 07, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: to-read, francesca-lia-class

If I'd read this at a different time in my life, it'd probably have blown me away, à la Handmaid's Tale, 1984, what have you (Ishiguro is particularly Atwoody/Drabbley/Byatty this time). But as it was, while I admired his chilly ability to ratchet up the ol' plot engine, meticulously, brushstroke by stroke, in the end I really wasn't as moved by the story and characters as other readers were—or as I was by Remains of the Day. I felt a distant wistful sadness for everyone involved, but nothing that didn't leave me as soon as I put the book down. Though admittedly there are certain tragedies vying for my attention at present.

B. and I spoke tonight about how the narrator's "conversational" voice, at the book's outset, is so stylized and mannered and precious as to be downright annoying; and it's not immediately apparent that Ishiguro is the one in control of it. By about 35-50 pages in, though, either he stands down a bit or the reader's simply resigned that this is the way things will go, and we accept it, however implausible. Then things become easier. There's a bit of the same issue at the outset of Oryx and Crake, I suppose, though there events are so dramatic and the language is so immediately interesting that one doesn't mind Jimmy too much. Here the language is minimalist and spare, drawing all attention to the narrator's irritating tics. It's still so accomplished, what he manages to accomplish by the novel's end, that I think it's another 3 and 1/2 star goodread.

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