brad's Reviews > Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
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Apr 15, 08

Read in January, 2007

** spoiler alert ** Set in a late 1990s England, Ishiguro places us in an uncomfortably realistic, sci-fi scenario where cloning is normative and routine. We follow the lives of Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy, students at Hailsham, a picturesque boarding school. Only about halfway into the novel is the nature of this society completely revealed, when we find that the students are clones, living as normal humans until their organs are needed.

Fortunately, the story never directly questions societal ethics of cloning. Doing so, even slightly, would have changed the tone to a political bent, shredding the tender story. And although he doesn't question cloning, he does, however, lead the reader to an underlying answer while maintaining a tight reign over the actual storyline.

Ishiguro broaches many topics, such as societal detachment and the struggle of a minority class, but its his focus on the aching to belong, an experience that, I venture to guess, most people feel or have felt at some point, that gives us real emotions filtered, only mildly, through prose.

Kathy is one of few students raised at Hailsham, where the caretakers focus on creative outlets; we discover later that the art is being preserved as possible evidence of students' humanity. Oddly enough, the caretakers miss the student's self awareness and emotional maturations, arguably the most human of all traits.

Through Kathy H., we see that the students are capable of ranging emotions, from sadness and forgiveness to lust and curiosity. She excels as a "carer" because she interacts with the dying on a personal level, interprets their moods, and calms them. As a human-like force, she doesn't embrace the horrific outcome of her life and list towards death like many of her peers, she focuses on her friends, repairing old mistakes and forming stronger bonds.

In spite of the sci-fi setting, the unique traits of Ishiguro's narratives, such as a languorous flow and inherent subtlety, allow him to slip rather significant items into the story without any grandiose epiphanies. You feel as though you're like sitting with a friend, listening to recalled events, some familiar and some new.

After reading the last chapter, I honestly didn't know how to feel. Tapped out emotionally, I just desperately needed a hug. It's a rare occasion that instead of reading a novel, I experience it; a testament to Ishiguro's skill in crafting a story, not just words.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Alison I felt exactly the same at the end.


Bitq Same here. Am I sad or not? Ahhhh. Emotions, why you so complicated?!?!


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