Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Never Let Me Go

Rate this book
Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.

288 pages, Paperback

First published April 5, 2005

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Sir Kazuo Ishiguro (カズオ・イシグロ or 石黒 一雄), OBE, FRSA, FRSL is a British novelist of Japanese origin and Nobel Laureate in Literature (2017). His family moved to England in 1960. Ishiguro obtained his Bachelor's degree from the 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 Memorial Prize. His second novel, An Artist of the Floating World, won the 1986 Whitbread Prize. Ishiguro received the 1989 Man Booker prize for his third novel The Remains of the Day. His fourth novel, The Unconsoled, won the 1995 Cheltenham Prize. His latest novel is The Buried Giant, a New York Times bestseller. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 2017.

His novels An Artist of the Floating World (1986), When We Were Orphans (2000), and Never Let Me Go (2005) were all shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

In 2008, The Times ranked Ishiguro 32nd on their list of "The 50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945". In 2017, the Swedish Academy awarded him the Nobel Prize in Literature, describing him in its citation as a writer "who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world".

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
196,537 (30%)
4 stars
240,857 (36%)
3 stars
152,839 (23%)
2 stars
48,187 (7%)
1 star
16,300 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 48,563 reviews
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.7k followers
August 16, 2010
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 and consider books written by authors like Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, and Jose Saramago pretentious, this is not a story for you.

Now to the novel itself. Kathy, now 31, is a former student of an English boarding school Hailsham. Hailsham is a school for kids with special purpose. All education in this school is geared towards conditioning its student to accept their "special" destiny as a given. As Kathy is getting ready to make her first donation while being a carer for other donors, she recounts her life in Hailsham and on her own, mostly in a form of anecdotes about herself and her best friends Ruth and Tommy, their rivalries, jealousies, and affection for each other. There is nothing particularly shocking, gruesome, or intense about Kathy's story, and yet it leaves you with a sense of being a part of a nightmare.

After reading quite a few reviews of the book, I can say that I loved the aspects of it that many abhorred. What other readers say about Kathy - her detachment, her lack of fire and rebellion, about broke my heart. What can be more heartbreaking than witnessing human lives wasted? Let me tell you - witnessing lives taken away from people who do not even realize what is being taken away from them, people who do not understand the value of their existence, people who do not know they have a right for more.

There is of course, much more to the story. The novel explores the futility of human life, its un-bargainable eventual "completion" and how we all choose to deal with the inevitable end. But for me personally the pain of Kathy's quiet resignation to her fate was what stood out and touched me the most.

In many ways Never Let Me Go reminded me of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Only Kathy is a step further from Offred. If Offred knows what horrors she is subjected to, but has no strength or will to change her circumstances, Kathy doesn't even know that her life "purpose," her destiny is inhumane. This work is also, to me, very reminiscent of Ian McEwan's Atonement. McEwan is a master of subtle build-up to an almost unbearable, life-shattering moment, but Ishiguro is a master of subtle telling without telling, foreshadowing, and emphasizing the gravity of the unsaid.

What else can I say about this novel? Never Let Me Go is a masterfully written work of fiction which raises questions of what it is to be human, what you choose to do in the face of an impending death and what happens when science is not accompanied by ethics. Subtle, eerie, chilling, and poignant. One of the best books I have read this year.
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,302 reviews22.1k followers
December 1, 2007
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 of groups of people on the basis of inherited genetic characteristics. In fact, as a critique of racism this book is utterly brilliant. Those being racially alienated are genetically identical (they are in fact clones) to those attacking them.

Plato believed those 'in the know' should tell lies to those 'who do not know' so as to protect them from the all too horrible truths about life. I have always hated this aspect of Plato, always finding it grotesque and frightening in its implications. Those implications are drawn out in all their disturbing horror here.

This book has much to say about the nature of 'illness' and how those inflicted with an 'illness' use the scars of that illness as the badges of truly belonging to the group. So that those 'less advanced' in the ravages of the illness don't really know or really belong to the group. As a portrait of victims adopting to being victims it says much about us as humans - thoughtful readers may find it says far too much. I write this on World Aids Day.

Ishiguro writes the most nightmarish novels I've ever read. In others, such as The Unconsoled or When We Were Orphans the nightmare feeling is due to the dreamlike oddity of the interconnection of events in the story. One reads these books in much the same way that one wakes from a disturbing dream, with feelings of disorientation and anxiety. Even though this is the most literal 'nightmare book' of his I have read - the world he creates being literally a nightmare, and made all the worse by being set in the recent past - it is a book totally lacking in that strange dreamlike quality so characteristic of these other novels. In this sense it seemed less of a nightmare than these others. If you struggled with these, you will not struggle with this in quite the same way.

He also has fascinating and quite painful things to say about the nature of love and how love has a proper time, a time that may be lost or missed. As someone who has loved, lost and missed I found this particularly challenging. The relationship between sex and love and illness is perhaps something people may find simply too much - not because this is handled in any way that is too explicit, but because I do believe we like to think that sex, as a manifestation of love, has curative and redemptive powers. A book that questions this, questions something we hold very dear and some readers may find this too much to ask.

This is also a book about betrayal. The betrayals we commit against those we love the most and yet that we barely can understand or explain after we have committed them - these are constant throughout the book. He is a writer all too aware of the human condition. The scene which gives the book its title is a wonderful example of the near impossibility of our being understood by others and yet our endless desire for just such an understanding.

There is nothing easy about reading this book - although it is written in the simplest of prose. It has an honesty of feeling that brands one's soul.

I loved this book and have thought about it a lot since I finished reading it and will think about it more. There is much more I would like to say, but there is no space. May we all be good carers before we complete.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.2k followers
December 8, 2009
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, "Man, this movie's interesting and all, but I want to know more about that guy who owned the hotel where Sarah Conner hid from the Terminator. I bet he leads a fascinating life." (believe me, he doesn't.)

Imagine if someone decided to write a book about this kind of person. The result is Never Let Me Go.

(semi-spoilers ahoy, you've been warned) So the book is about a sort of alternate-universe England, where people are cloned and the resulting kids are raised in isolated boarding schools, spending all their time painting and playing sports and getting vague hints about how when they get older they'll have to make "donations." We learn (eventually and with no drama whatsoever) that these kids were created specifically as future organ donors, and that's all they're meant for. Ishiguro introduces us to Kathy, the narrator, and her friends who lived at one of these schools with her - Ruth and Tommy. As I said, we gradually and laboriously learn about the school's real purpose, but it seems almost like a subplot, because the majority of the book is just Kathy nattering on about her school and how she and Ruth got into a fight this one time and also she had a crush on Tommy but he and Ruth were dating so Kathy had sex with some other random guys and oh my god can we get back to the organ donor thing? Seriously the whole book is like that - we get the sense that there's some creepy futuristic stuff going on in the background, but our protagonists don't care because they're too busy telling us about that one time Kathy lost her favorite cassette tape and it was very upsetting.

Even when it seems like a plot's about to start, it's always a false alarm. The trip to a nearby town that the three characters take to find a woman they think may be Ruth's "possible" (a person she may have been cloned from) doesn't pan out, and we realize that the real point of the trip was an attempt to convince the reader that Tommy and Kathy have some sort of romantic attraction to each other. Ruth's possible, and everything it might have meant, is abandoned so that Ishiguro can have another chance to demonstrate his astonishing inability to create any kind of chemistry between two characters.

And the end. Without giving anything away, I'll just say that Kathy and Tommy finally get all the answers about their school and what was actually going on, and they respond by...going about their lives in the exact same way as before.

I mean, good God. Even though this is supposed to be some sort of more intellectual science fiction, I don't care. There's cloning and dystopian undertones; ergo it is sci-fi. And I like my sci-fi loud, shiny, and dramatic, with lots of explosions and computers that talk.

There's a reason Harry Potter starts when he gets his Hogwarts letter, folks. Because no one wants to hear about ordinary people being ordinary - that's kind of the whole point of fiction.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Michelle.
68 reviews38 followers
April 3, 2007
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 about the tree and why it was significant, then tell you about the fight. This sort of device is interesting the first few times you see it, but it started to annoy me over time. Maybe because I talk like that, and get off into tangents and anecdotes.

Also, at the heart of the store is the purpose/fate of the main characters. I get the impression that the author wanted to drop clues about it, and then reveal it so that it is a shocking twist (who's Kaiser Soeze? ;) The thing is, the references really aren't that subtle, so by the time the twist is reavealed, it's not all that exciting. Not only that, but I had so many questions at the end. Like -- these people know their fate, but they never think to question it, and, in fact, seem to be glad for it.

This was supposed to be a coming of age story. Generally "coming of age" involves people growing up and moving forward with their lives; often they need to overcome some obstacle to reveal their potential. However, the characters seem to be stagnate the whole way through; their fate doesn't change. The blurb on the back of the book mentions that the characters, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, all have a shared background that's special, and implies that they're lucky. When two of the charaters confront someone to see if they can defer their fate (they don't even bother trying to change it), we find out a little bit of what makes their shared background special, but we aren't given anything to compare it to (we're just told that similar people have horrible existences, but not how). And they find out that they can't defer their fate, but they don't really seem to care; they don't even seem to be particularly glad that they tried.

I've seen a couple of reviews compare this to book to Aldous Huxley's classic "Brave New World" and Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale". Not even close. In both of these books we're exposed to an alternate reality, and we see how the main characters deal with their situations. Kazuo Ishiguro tries to sneak the alternate reality into the story, to take us by surprise.

I could go on, but I won't. Let's just say that I didn't care for this book and leave it at that.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Fabian.
957 reviews1,623 followers
September 20, 2020
Ah f**kin' British writers! My inclination to adore everyone from Evelyn Waugh to Charles Dickens, from Alex Garland to Zadie Smith seems very ingrained (VERY DEEP) inside me, primordial, & there must be SOME bloody reason why I find most English fiction so alluring. I think it has mostly to do with mood. It may linger deliciously...

The best book I've read all year (though not including Graham Greene's "The Quiet American") is about a microsociety of students in a boarding school hybrid named Hailsham. While there they do rounds and rounds of arts and crafts and come of age together, grow up, & yet there is something so not right with their seclusion and it takes page upon page to discover why it is that they are there. It is horrific, it is bizarre, this secret is handled with so much craft that it is indeed this attribute that marks this outstanding (quite brutal) masterpiece apart from all others.

There is an incredibly subtle mastery of several different genres here. Sci-fi meshes impeccably with allegory which is played out in the manner of a Gothic romance. Because the characters are trapped in all of this, the end result is (The Genre Supreme:) Tragedy. I feel so bad for Ruth, Tommy & especially for Kath, the wise but all-too-frail narrator, but at least their petition, which is the book's title, is true. This one is now on the list of all those I cannot let go or do without.
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,213 followers
March 3, 2008
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 participation: you have to do your bit, too, to make it work, so it makes sense, so it tells the story it was meant to tell. Keep yourself in the dark, that's my advice. Because of this, there's no point in writing an actual review.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
874 reviews2,271 followers
October 30, 2022

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 with you, yep, delinquents, sounds good.

K: …he wanted to stop them being a burden to their parents…

Publisher: Yep, with you.

K: … and the Country.

Publisher: Yep, a Thatcherite angle, I think it’s Maggie’s time again.

K: Anyway, he had this idea that you could kill two birds with one stone…you could end the kids’ misery and the poverty of their parents at the same time…

Publisher: Let me guess, you could eat them, ha ha.

K: You’ve read it?

Publisher: No… wait, you’re kidding me, aren’t you?

K: No, that’s the whole point of the story.

Publisher: What, eat your kids?

K: No, not your own kids, other people’s kids.

Publisher: How could anyone do it?

K: He goes into that… stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled…

Publisher: Yuck.

K: He even talks about making them into a fricassee or a ragout.

Publisher: It’s a bit out there, K.

K: I was thinking of updating it a bit.

Publisher: How would you do that?

K: I was thinking I could tell the story from the point of view of a midwife who…

Publisher: Someone who has to care for the kids?

K: Yeah, until they turn 12 months or something...

Publisher: Let me guess, then she hands them over to a child butcher or something?

K: Yeah.

Publisher: Look, I can see where you’re going with this, but it all sounds a bit grotesque.

K: That’s the whole point. It’s an allegory for our times.

Publisher: I just don’t know whether it’s got legs.

K: Legs? You’re kidding me…it’s got every damned limb and organ you can think of.

Publisher: I don’t want to think of it, I can just imagine the reviews. They’ll call it “The Remains of the Meat Tray”.

K: Ha, I hadn’t thought of that, I was going to call it “The Remains of the Creche”.

Publisher: It gets worse.

K: No, honestly, I was thinking of “Never Let Me Grow”.

Publisher: You mean, like…never let me grow up?

K: Yeah.

Publisher: Do you think you could turn the people into pigs or something, you know, like “Animal Farm”?

K: I was sort of hooked on the idea of using people and narrating the story in a really dead pan voice…

Publisher: I don’t know about dead pan, it sounds more frying pan to me.

K: …If it’s dead pan, people won’t be able to tell whether it’s set in the future or the present. They won’t know how close to reality it is.

Publisher: I just don’t know what I think about this eating babies stuff.

K: But it’s like sci-fi, you can do anything in sci-fi.

Publisher: Look, if we let you do this, they won’t be calling it sci-fi, they’ll be calling it sci-fry.

K: If you let me do it, I guarantee we’ll be able to get Helen Mirren to play the midwife.

Publisher: Who?

K: Helen Mirren, you know, the Queen.

Publisher: No, no. Look, if you can tweak it, you know, think about my idea for a second, set it on Animal Farm, make it about cloning pigs, so they can grow body parts for other pigs or something…

K: I know, put some wizard animals in it and call it “Hogparts”?

Publisher: Come on take me seriously, K, just clone it up and tone it down.

K: I’ll think about it.

Publisher: I’ll see if I can get Keira Knightley to voice one of the pigs.

K: She’s hot.

Publisher: You could call it “Never Let Me Go”.

K: What does that mean?

Publisher: It’s a song my mother used to play. Jane Monheit sang it.

K: I could get used to it. Don’t know what I think about the name Monheit though.

Publisher: It does sound a bit German, doesn't it?

K: What would you think if I called her something more English in the book.

Publisher: Like Judy Bridgewater?

K: Who’s Judy Bridgewater?

Publisher: It’s my mother’s maiden name.

K: Sounds good to me.

Publisher: Look, I normally like to respect an artist’s integrity, but hey, you’re the artist, so I guess that makes it OK.

K: Do you think I could get to meet Keira Knightley?

Publisher: I think so… look I’ve been thinking about it, maybe it’s not such a good idea to turn Keira Knightley into a pig.

K: Sometimes you can’t really see the depth of your own characters, until you can imagine who’s going to play them.

Publisher: So, no pigs?

K: No pigs. I don’t mind the cloning bit though.

Original Review: April 16, 2011


Some More Serious Thoughts

I wrote the above dialogue before I even finished the book.
I wanted to read the book before seeing the film, which I will probably do in the next week or so during the holidays.
When I wrote the dialogue, I probably had about 50 pages to finish, but the dialogue had taken shape in my head, and I didn't want to risk losing it.
There might have been a chance that it would be superseded by my final thoughts on the novel itself.
I had high expectations that I would finally get to appreciate the novel more when I had finished it and absorbed the denouement.
Unfortunately, it left me feeling dissatisfied.

Narrative Style

I didn't find the narrative style appropriate or convincing.
It is told in the first person, by way of recollection of three different periods of Kathy's life.
The periods are discussed chronologically, although during each period, there are occasional allusions to each other period.
There is a lot of internal detail about each period, what was going on in Kathy's head.
Dialogue between the characters is infrequent and sparse.
The novel is overwhelmingly an interior monologue.
Occasionally, there are lapses or flaws in Kathy's memory that she self-consciously draws attention to.
Part of me wanted to say to the author, "It's your story, just get it right, you can remember anything you like, because you're making it up anyway."
But then I guess we have to differentiate between Ishiguro and Kathy.
We have to expect some flaws in the glass, rather than a word and memory perfect narrative.
Still I was never really confident who Kathy was talking to, it wasn't just an interior monologue, there were occasional mentions of a "you", a second person to whom she was talking.
If you had sat down to tell this story to someone else, I think you could or would have told the story far more succinctly and selectively.
The detail and the repetition of environment, atmosphere and mood bulk up the painting, but they don't add to the depth.
Each new layer of paint is superimposed on the previous layer, so that while there might be a lot of paint on the canvas, it is physically, rather then metaphorically, deep.

The Geometry of Love


While Kathy, Ruth and Tommy live in an horrific environment (perhaps a metaphorical equivalent to a concentration camp), the novel deals with the quality of their humanity under these circumstances.
The guardians might have been trying to work out (incidentally) whether they had souls, but ultimately what we learn is that the positive aspects of human nature can survive or prevail despite the circumstances.
It's interesting that the characters' quest for love initially seemed to be motivated by a belief that it would postpone their donations and prolong their lives.
While this belief turns out to be mistaken, Kathy discovers that love is worth seeking in its own right, regardless of any consequences or notions of cause and effect.
Ruth promoted the belief in the life prolonging effect of love.
In effect, Kathy acquiesced in it and never deliberately interfered in or disrupted the relationship between Ruth and Tommy.
However, when she comes to the end of the story, perhaps she realises that she should have been less acquiescent and let herself express her love for Tommy.
So ultimately, "Never Let Me Go" is a love story, a triangular one at that.
Life is short, you just have to get on with it, you have to take your (true?) love wherever you can find it, even if someone else gets hurt in the process.
When we pair up in love, there is always a chance that someone will miss out or get hurt.
Three into two won't go.
Perhaps, this is actually calculus rather than geometry, but you know what I mean.
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,102 reviews7,203 followers
December 31, 2022
I had this book on my TBR shelf for years without realizing that it was essentially dystopian science fiction.

The main character is a woman in her early thirties reflecting back on her life as a child at a private school in England. Kids in the school grew up in an isolated but almost idyllic setting; not knowing their parents but realizing somehow they were “special.” After finishing school they live together in small groups in cottages before heading out into the world on their own. The story is set in the late 1990s.


From the very first page we learn something is not right just from the language. We read that they have become “carers” and “donors;” their teachers are called “guardians” and they know there are people out there called their “possible.” We also learn they can have sex but are incapable of having children and that after their third of fourth “donation” they have “completed.” So we catch on pretty quickly what life has in store for these kids.

There are some genuine mysteries though. Why does the school seem obsessed with encouraging them to do creative work, giving them awards and collecting the best work to go to a gallery that they never see? Where does it go and who sees it and why?

Much of the plot is built around a three-way love story between a boy and two girls at school. One of the girls is the main character. All three are good friends but the boy and one of the girls are a couple.

This quote tells us about the title: “Because maybe, in a way, we didn’t leave it [the school] behind nearly as much as we might once have thought. Because somewhere underneath, a part of us stayed like that: fearful of the world around us, and – no matter how much we despised ourselves for it – unable quite to let each other go.”


I thought it was a good story; it kept my attention all the way through, although not quite as good as the author’s best-known work, Remains of the Day.

Top photo from englishcottagevacation.com
The author from newyorker.com

[Revised, pictures added, spoiler hidden 12/31/22]
Profile Image for Scarlet.
187 reviews1,169 followers
March 7, 2016
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 a semblance of hope, only to completely crush it later.

And that means I hate this book for all the right reasons.

“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.”
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
April 16, 2020
The thing I enjoy most about Ishiguro’s writing is the sheer level of depth he gets into his characters; he captures all the intensity of real emotions whether they are self-serving or destructive. His writing style is simple, plain even, but he builds up many layers within his storytelling to unleash the full symphony of conflicted feelings in powerful bursts.

However, I saw none of his brilliance here.

Indeed, for all his talent, I don’t think this novel was as effective as The Remains of the Day or even When We Were Orphans. For me. this is a lesser novel by a great writer.

This is his most popular work, and his most critically acclaimed, and I think that’s only because of the particular themes he explores here. This is science-fiction, but I prefer the term pseudo-science fiction. It’s slightly futuristic, but the fictional elements are relatively comparable to what man can do today. Vivisection transplant is nothing new. Organ donors are nothing new. This book is very similar to the movie “The Island” (2005) where a select group of people have special clones bred for the singular purpose of providing them with replacement body parts.

What I find interesting is how these two were released so close together. For me, such forms of artifice reflect the worries and concerns of that decade. Discussions over designer babies and animal rights issues (in regards to testing, transplants and cloning) were often in the media. If we look back to the Victorians, the elements in the literature reflected the concerns of the age. This is true for all literary movements; I just used this one for an example, but the point is I think this novel reflects an aspect of the time in which it was written. And for me that’s why I think it’s worthy of study, it's timely.

But did I enjoy it?

Not overly. Do I think it is a success artistically and dramatically? Not really. For me the novel continuously fails to deliver. The retrospective narrative remains detached from the happenings. Granted, the voice has lost all sense of hope and is looking back at a life of sorrow and incompleteness, but it just didn’t have a sense of life. You could say that’s because she is semi-human in the state imposed on her, but, for me, it was too despairing. And that’s coming from someone who counts Edgar Allan Poe amongst his favourite authors.

The inability of the characters to question the situation also somewhat puzzled me. Surely, they must have had some glimpses of thought that considered their present situation an injustice? There was a lack of inquisitiveness into the morality of the situation. And this, when paired with their complete failure of recognising their own feelings about each other, made the narrative feel slightly incomplete. They didn’t seem to look beyond their own situation. As a reader, we make our own judgement calls, but where were theirs? A certain emotional immaturity, that bordered on the absurd, ran through the work.

Overall, I can see why this book is so popular. But I don’t think it’s all that. Ishiguro’s other books are much more accomplished.

Facebook| Twitter| Insta| Academia
Profile Image for Seth T..
Author 4 books872 followers
February 8, 2013
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 plays with the reader as he unfolds his exploration of what it means to live—but never does so unfairly or at the expense of his characters' right to dignity and reality (a right that he very much does grant his characters).

Never Let Me Go is narrated from nearly a decade before its publication. As Kathy quietly reminisces from her vantage in the late 1990s, she gradually comes to explore a life fraught with meaning and purpose—and fraught simultaneously with that kind of superlative meaninglessness that Ecclesiastes bemoans in all of its somber weariness. Kathy is a caregiver to recuperating donors and relates her special pleasure in the few instances in which she had been able to offer care to those who had been students at the exclusive (and, as it turns out, much envied) Hailsham, where she herself grew up. Memories of Hailsham water a fertile delta of memories through which we gradually come to understand both Kathy and the world she has inherited—a world filled both with much light and much darkness.

In other words, a world much like mine or yours. Still, Kathy's story is unique and it is in her own tale's peculiarities that our own is better revealed. Better explored.

Some may be tempted to see Never Let Me Go as ethical question and admonishment to this generation of readers and to the one that follows us. Certainly, that is there, but only as mise-en-scène to the larger panorama of a woman's quest to discern her past, present, and future from a glut of memories (some of which are only mostly trustworthy or even trusted) and how that journey sheds light on questions more important than mere ethical concerns. In Never Let Me Go, Ishiguro continues to play as he has in past works with memory and perception and how memory is so often the primary defense against perspicacity, yet as his narrator is acutely aware of her own remolding of history through nostalgia and forgetfulness, we are assured that perspicuity is not his target here.

No. I believe Never Let Me Go is much more a perfectly plotted meditation (and its style is itself quite meditative) on the human condition, the place of our own hands in shaping our destinies, and what it means to live. These could all be clichéd topics but Ishiguro approaches with such a vaguely detached sublimity that he breathes (through Kathy his narrator) a certain verdant spirit into these things. They are never treated as anything more than mundane, but it is precisely by that treatment that he gives his purpose such power and impact.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews37 followers
August 5, 2021
(Book 1 From 1001 books) - Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go, is a 2005 dystopian science fiction novel, by Nobel Prize-winning British author Kazuo Ishiguro.

The story begins with Kathy, who describes herself as a carer, talking about looking after organ donors. She has been a carer for almost twelve years at the time of narration, and she often reminisces about her time spent at Hailsham, a boarding school in England, where the teachers are known as guardians.

Along with classes, they often emphasize the importance of being healthy to their students—smoking is considered to be taboo, almost on the level of a crime, and working in the vegetable garden is compulsory.

The curriculum appears to be like that of any other school, but there is great encouragement for the students to produce art. The art is then displayed in an exhibition, and the best artwork is chosen by a woman known to the students as Madame.

The students speculate that she keeps their work in a gallery. The story revolves around three Hailsham students: Kathy and two others, Ruth and Tommy, who develop a close but complicated friendship.

Kathy develops a fondness for Tommy, looking after him when he is bullied and having private talks with him. However, Ruth and Tommy begin a romantic relationship during their time at the school that continues when they leave. ...

هرگز رهایم مکن - کازوئو ایشی گورو (ققنوس) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: نوزدهم فوریه سال 2012میلادی

عنوان: هرگز رهایم مکن؛ نویسنده: کازوئو ایشی گورو؛ مترجم: سهیل سمی؛ تهران، ققنوس، 1385، در 267ص؛ شابک 9643116271؛ چاپ دوم 1386؛ چاپ سوم 1389؛ شابک 9789643116279؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 20م

عنوان: هرگز رهایم مکن؛ نویسنده: کازوئو ایشی گورو؛ مترجم: فاطمه امینی؛ تهران، نوید ظهور، 1394، در 352ص؛ شابک 9786008008132؛

با آنکه عنوان کتاب عاشقانه است، اما داستان عاشقانه نیست، از عشق سخن میگوید، اما عاشقانه نیست؛ «کتی اچ.» سی و یک ساله داستان زندگیش را برای خوانشگر روایت می‌کند؛ «کتی»، «تامی» و «روت» دانش آموزان مدرسه ی شبانه ‌روزی نامعمولی به نام «هیلشم» هستند؛ در «هیلشم» دانش آموزان، به یادگیری و آفرینش هنرهایی همچون «نقاشی»، «سفال‌گری» و «کاردستی» می‌پردازن،د و بر سلامتی بچه ‌ها نظارت شدیدی اعمال می‌شود؛ همچنان‌که «کتی» داستان بزرگ شدن خود و دوستانش، عشق ناگفته ‌اش به «تامی»، و دوستی پر فراز و نشیبش با «روت» را پیش می‌برد، خوانشگر نیز به آهستگی، پی به حقیقت وجود بچه ‌ها می‌برد؛ این دانش آموزان «هیلشم» به گونه ای هستند، که متولد شده اند تا اعضای بدن خود را اهدا کنند، و به تدریج بمیرند؛ آنها پیش از اهدای عضو، مددکار میشوند؛ این اثر «ایشی گورو»، رمان تکان ‌دهنده ‌ای است، آکنده از احساس شکنندگی انسان معاصر، خاطرات به یادماندنی شخصیت‌هایی که رفته ‌رفته، به حقیقت دوران کودکی به ظاهر شاد، و نیز آینده خود پی می‌برند

نقل از آغاز داستان: (اسمم «کتی اچ.» است؛ سی و یک سال دارم، و بیش از یازده سال است که پرستارم؛ میدانم؛ یک عمرست؛ اما راستش، میخواهند هشت ماه دیگر هم ادامه بدهم، یعنی تا آخر سال؛ با این حساب میشود دوازده سال تمام؛ حالا میدانم که سابقه ی کار طولانی ام، ضروزتا به این معنا نیست که کارم از نظر آنها محشر است؛ پرستاران خیلی خوبی را میشناسم که در سه سال، عذرشان را خواسته اند؛ و دست کم یک پرستار را هم میشناسم، که به رغم بی مصرف بودن، چهارده سال آزگار به کارش ادامه داد؛ پس قصدم لاف زدن نیست، اما به هر حال حتم دارم که از کارم راضی بوده اند، و در کل، خودم هم همین طور -فکر میکنم-؛ بهبود بیمارانم، همیشه بیش از حد انتظار بوده؛ دوره ی نقاهتشان به نحو قابل ملاحظه ای کوتاه بوده، و تقریبا هیچ کدامشان ذیل گروه «پریشان»، دسته بندی نشده اند؛ حتی تا پیش از اهدایی چهارم.؛ شاید حالا دارم لاف میزنم؛ اما همین که میتوانم کارم را درست انجام دهم، برایم خیلی مهم است، بخصوص «خونسرد» نگاه داشتن بیمارانم؛ در مورد آنها نوعی شناخت غریزی پیدا کرده ام؛ میدانم چه موقع به سراغشان بروم، و تسلایشان دهم، چه موقع آنها را به حال خودشان -وا- بگذارم، چه وقت به گفتنی هاشان گوش بدهم، و چه موقع شانه بالا بیندازم، و بگویم تمامش کنند.)؛ پایان نخستین پاراگراف از متن ترجمه جناب «سهیل سمی»؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 13/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 13/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Esteban del Mal.
191 reviews64 followers
December 22, 2015
I had previously avoided this book, having heard it referred to as British science fiction. And when I hear "British science fiction," I think of Dr. Who. Then I think about all those childhood snuff film fantasies where Captain Kirk zaps him. (Phasers set to kill, dammit! Inter-dimensional traveling dandies in phone booths are the exception to Federation regulations. What is it about the British, anyway? A phone booth? That's Superman's bag, baby. Superhero envy much? The sun may have never set on the British Empire, but we Yankees have a guy who can fly faster than the speed of light.) But then I found myself alone in a big bookstore in a big city trying to divine what the angelic face on the book's cover was looking askance at (itself manipulated, no doubt, like the fictional clones whose story it was fashioned to sell) and thinking of Kurosawa's definition of art being about the ability to look at humanity in its entirety without flinching.

Mulligan. I flinched.

But Kazuo Ishiguro hasn't. And he doesn't think much of me. Or you. And he's probably correct in that judgment.

Imagine the most genteel, tea-sipping people gathered around fine china in a flowery patterned drawing room somewhere in the English countryside. A shaft of midday sun shines through drawn curtains as they politely discuss the day's happenings. Then imagine Leatherface, Jack the Ripper, Lex Luther, Sarah Palin and Michael Jackson's dad ransacking everything around them, starting at the furthest perimeters of the house, slowly working their way toward our happy people and ultimately cannibalizing them. Then imagine both groups acting as if this is completely normal. Nary a word of protest or questioning, mind you.

That's what this book is like to me.

It was very difficult to read, in the psychological sense of "read." The pathos was too overwhelming. I had to take a break from it, about two-thirds of the way through. I tried to tell myself that it was because I had read the bulk of it as I was hidden away in some claustrophobic hotel room, or that I found the prose tedious at times. In truth, though, it succeeds in shining a light on human nature, and I just couldn’t bear to look.

The story made me uncomfortable, and I hated myself for returning to it after having put it aside. I was irked by the characters, my inner-Kirk screaming, "SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!" The lethargic creepiness made me realize that no, not only was nobody going to do anything, but that neither I, nor you, nor any of us, are all that different from the people who harvest these poor souls for their organs. After all, I'm a fat and happy first-worlder who less and less has a care or thought for all those who are exploited to make my life possible.

We homo sapiens adapt to anything and hang our hats on the most contorted and worn rationalizations.

I would grind my teeth and ask, "Where is their Marx? Their Malcolm X?" Fuck, I'd have settled for Stalin or Benedict Arnold. But maybe the revolutionary gene had been isolated and bred out of their clone bodies -- a distinct possibility, owing to the imperfect knowledge of the first-person narrator. What's worse is that whereas science may have manipulated them to be docile, we, all of us, have been likewise manipulated by the inertia of history.

As I have written, I grew tired with what I saw as tedious prose, the catalog of details about everyday life cited by the narrator. But then it dawned on me that this cataloging is exactly the sort of thing a dying person would do. Life would take on more urgency. What you and I may take for granted is pregnant with wonder to the condemned. In fact, happy serendipity, this view is supported by a study cited in the November 2009 issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin -- researchers have found that those who profess to be in love are more analytical. And what is someone condemned to die other than someone in love with life?

I winced at Ishiguro's condemnation of liberal half-measures in the face of social norms. The narrator and her group of friends are raised in an almost "humane" manner -- educated, encouraged to cultivate personal friendships with one another, encouraged to pursue art. And while they represent the exception, an experiment to demonstrate that clones have souls, they are condemned nonetheless. All the petty jealousies and transcendent friendships that framed their short, beautiful lives, are consumed by larger society. And while there is never a mention of God, the closest they come is looking up a former instructor who is only mildly repulsed by them and who bids them eat from the Tree of Complete Knowledge.

Repeat after me: I am pathetic. I am powerless.

Kirk, succumbing to the Borg after all.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kevin Ansbro.
Author 5 books1,476 followers
November 23, 2019
You know those irritating people who talk to children and old people as if they were babies, in a puerile, singsong voice?
Well, those idiots sprang to mind as I endured the narrative voice of this glacially slow yawnfest of a novel.

This is a book so plodding, so dreary and so pretentious that I gave up on it halfway through.
With a less-than-pleased harrumph, I shoved it into a slot on my bookshelf alongside The Remains of the Day, which I'd bought at the same time, anticipating dual sublimity.

So for the past few years there they both sat, on the bookcase equivalent of a naughty step, sulking like teenagers and glaring at me each time I passed.
"Oh, get over yourselves!" I berated, turning them around so that only their pages were on show. Ha! That taught them a lesson they'll never forget!

But right now, I'm giving The Remains of the Day its day in the sun. It's highly spoken of by numerous Goodreaders, so I'm hoping that Ishiguro can belatedly turn my frown upside down.

As for Never Let Me Go, the only thing that I have in common with its improbable story line is that : )

I remember someone describing this as being somewhere between Kafka and Enid Blyton, which is most apt.
Read this book by all means, but don't say that I didn't warn you.

UPDATE: The Remains of the Day was a triumph, in my view!
: )
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.7k followers
February 6, 2023
I just...don't know how you take a book with a plotline as interesting and creepy and unique as this one and turn it into an unrelenting snoozefest, party of one.

When I hear "the best novel of the decade," I expect brilliance.

When I hear "now a major motion picture starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Keira Knightley," I expect excitement.

When I hear "millions of copies sold, presumably, based on the number of Goodreads ratings there are," I expect memorable characters or writing or storytelling or SOMETHING.

But I got nothing.

I've put off writing this review for a month, which is kind of but not super unusual for me admittedly, because I do not remember a thing about it.

And not really because I have forgotten the whole thing, but more because...well, what's to remember?

Bottom line: If anyone is looking for a nice little one way getaway to snoozeville, I have the book for you!


yes, the ending of this made me sad, but at the same time and in a much more pressing way this is maybe one of the most boring books i've ever read.

review to come / 2ish stars

tbr review

i will read:
1) every book that is called the best of the decade
2) every book that was then adapted into a movie starring carey mulligan OR keira knightley OR andrew garfield that i can watch.

so basically i'm reading this 4 times over.


taking lily's idea and reading only books by asian authors this month!

book 1: the incendiaries
book 2: last night at the telegraph club
book 3: dear girls
book 4: sigh, gone
book 5: frankly in love
book 6: emergency contact
book 7: your house will pay
book 8: convenience store woman
book 9: on earth we're briefly gorgeous
book 10: we are not free
book 11: searching for sylvie lee
book 12: the displaced
book 13: schoolgirl
book 14: sweet bean paste
book 15: little fires everywhere
book 16: trust exercise
book 17: front desk
book 18: the bride test
book 19: interior chinatown
book 20: it's not like it's a secret
book 21: almost american girl
book 22: never let me go
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,271 reviews2,443 followers
January 8, 2023

Kazuo Ishiguro tells us the story of a clique of students living in the congenial atmosphere of Hailsham, an English boarding school far away from the city. Is there something flagrant or collusion happening behind the consonant nature of this school? Are the students of Hailsham different in some sort of way? The author tries to tell it through the eyes of Kathy, who was a schoolgirl who leaves the school after she grows up into a young woman. How will the products of Hailsham face the stark realities of their future? This novel explores hope and hopelessness, love and betrayal simultaneously. The author is also trying to discuss the importance of ethics in science. This novel is a conglomeration of literary fiction, science fiction, and romantic fiction.

What I learned from this book
1) What should we do if things are not going according to our plans in our life?
If things are not going according to our wishes, we should try hard to get things back on track. Even after we try our best, if it is still not going to our wish; then, we should learn to let it go.
"You have to accept that sometimes that's how things happen in this world. People's opinions, their feelings, they go one way, then the other. It just so happens you grew up at a certain point in this process."

"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."

2) The importance of solitude
Everyone is so vocal about the problems of loneliness and how loneliness can lead to anxiety and depression. It is indeed an important topic that needs discussion. But most of us are forgetting about the importance of solitude. Solitude is also a vital ingredient to make a person sane, just like companionship.
“The solitude, I've actually grown to quite like... I do like the feeling of getting into my little car, knowing for the next couple of hours I'll have only the roads, the big gray sky and my daydreams for company."

3) The purest form of Love
The author tries to discuss love from multiple angles in this novel. If we try to read between the lines, we can see love from a different angle that we haven't seen anywhere else, which is unique, pristine in its purest form, and has the propensity to touch our hearts and bring tears to our eyes.
“You say you’re sure? Sure that you're in love? How can you know it? You think love is so simple? ”

My favourite three lines from this book
"It was like when you make a move in chess and just as you take your finger off the piece, you see the mistake you've made, and there's this panic because you don't know yet the scale of disaster you've left yourself open to."

"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."

“It might be just some trend that came and went," I said. "But for us, it’s our life.”

What could have been better?
The pace of this novel, especially in the initial part, was a little slow. This is one of those rare novels which slowly grows on you.

5/5 This is a must-read book for all those who loves to read literary fiction.
Profile Image for Juushika.
1,561 reviews166 followers
April 24, 2008
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 world—and what this role dictates about her identity. A combination of heavy introspection and soft-scifi, Never Let Me Go has a thought-provoking premise and is brilliantly written, but fails to reach its potential, spending all its time in excruciatingly slow buildup and none of it in impact, theory, or debate. Enjoyable, but somewhat empty, and so moderately recommended.

This book's greatest strength is its writing style, but it is also one of the most irritating aspects. Kathy, the narrator, is intensely thoughtful and analytical, breaking down her personal history into eras, important moments, and developing themes. She walks the reader through the story of her life much in the way she lived it, slowly, very slowly, bringing to light her final realizations. In other words, there is a lot hidden in this book, and it takes the book's entire length—literally until the last fifteen pages—to reveal it all. In between are circuitous examples, where Kathy starts to talk about one event, goes back a bit to explain why the event was relevant, explains the event itself, and then goes on without having drawn a major conclusion—instead, she's just mapped another point on her gradual arc or argument. The resulting pace is excruciating, both artful, brilliantly thought-out and executed, and simply painful as the reader is lead along, disappointed, and lead along again. The book's pace bring the characters to life (although both Ruth and Tommy lack some dimension) and, with it, the life that they lived, through Hailsham and beyond. As such, it is the highlight of the book, worked like an artform, but it is also intensely irritating and makes the book (which actually reads quite quickly) seem longer than it is.

There are a near-infinite number of issues, from the ethical to philosophical, that could be brought to question and debate in this book. The very premise almost begs them—both the science of the base culture and the purpose of Hailsham itself. Unfortunately, however, none of these topics are brought to issue in the text. Instead, the book is consumed by the very slow progression of the story, the creep towards the "twist" revelations of who the children are and what purpose they serve. When finally revealed, these revelations are not all that big—not because they lack the potential to be, but because they pale in comparison to the immense buildup that leads to them. The characters just barely exceed the gradual revelation of the book's premise and are largely just passive carriers of the story, and so the other various issues, the possible debates, never enter into the text. So when other reviewers talk about the questions this book raises, what they're really talking about is the potential for questions—and that is not the same thing. The burden of meaning for this book, everything that the reader could take away and continue to think about, rests entirely on the reader, who must pull out the themes and ask the questions himself, carry on the debates himself. The author shirks his responsibility, and the book suffers for it, failing to live up to its potential.

My final complaint with this book is that the underlying concept seems, blandly, unrealistic. **SPOILERS** follow, so be warned: The fact that in the book's contemporary culture the clones are considered non-human despite looking, acting, and living like humans seems entirely impossible. Consider: Humans never viewed the first cloned animals as different than their original counterparts; indeed, we were amazed and drew attention to the fact that they were identical, that they were clones. So why would cloned humans be any different (especially that these clones pass in human society as normal and indistinguishable)? Outside of the huge wastefulness of cloning entire humans just to harvest their organs, the fact that the cloned humans were not considered humans seems unreal to me, no matter who the gene donors were, no matter what brief attempts Ishiguro (though Ms. Emily) makes to justify it. **END SPOILERS** This is the underlying basis of the book's conflict and plot, and so problems with this concept create problems throughout the book. They weaken the foundations, making it difficult to accept the book and, as a result, even more difficult to take on the work of finding and analyzing themes, which the author fails too do. In the end, Never Let Me Go has a thoughtful premise with heavy potential for thought, theory, and debate, and it is skillfully, even artfully written, but the book fails to live up to its potential: the author does not tackle his own themes, and no matter how interesting the premise, it is an unreasonable one. I wanted to enjoy this book, and I did, but I felt cheated at the end: the final product was surprisingly empty, with the burden of meaning placed entirely and unfairly upon the reader alone.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,447 followers
September 28, 2023
Recitesc, așadar, Să nu mă părăsești. Mi se pare și acum o carte foarte bună, chiar dacă unii au găsit-o „terifiantă”. Nu e neapărat un SF, nu este nici o carte horror (cum au catalogat-o - cam rapid - cîțiva cronicari), deși e neliniștitoare. Este mai degrabă un roman trist, foarte trist. Cineva mi-a mărturisit că a plîns la sfîrșitul cărții. Îl înțeleg:

„Iar acum eu mă aflu aici, în faţa tuturor acelor lucruri, şi dacă aştept suficient de mult, de dincolo de cîmp va apărea o siluetă micuţă, care va creşte pe măsură ce se va apropia, pînă cînd am să văd că e Tommy, iar el îmi va face cu mîna, poate chiar mă va striga. Fantezia mea nu a mers mai departe - n-am lăsat-o eu - şi, deşi lacrimile începuseră să mi se prelingă pe obraji, nu plîngeam în hohote şi nu îmi pierdusem complet cumpătul. Am aşteptat puţin, apoi m-am întors la maşină ca să pornesc mai departe, indiferent care era locul unde trebuia să ajung” (p.323).

Faptul cel mai ciudat din romanul lui Ishiguro este că „donatorii-clone” sînt liberi. Dar ei își asumă condiția ca și cum ar fi o fatalitate. Ishiguro a scris un roman despre condiția umană (omul ca ființă înrobită) și despre fragilitatea iubirii, cînd îți accepți soarta fără un singur murmur...

P. S. Pe o idee înrudită, Klara și soarele mi-a plăcut mult mai puțin...
Profile Image for Liong.
147 reviews115 followers
April 28, 2023
Sometimes I don't choose a book but it chooses me. Sounds weird?

In the beginning, I don't understand and was a bit confused by the words such as donor, and carer.

I may say this book is a bit slow, boring, and mundane but it is growing interesting when you continue discovering it.

The imaginative or sci-fiction story of Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth makes me reminisce about my life and I am grateful that we can live in a free world.

Remember, we never take the "free world" for granted. We must protect it. Sorry, a little bit of politics here. 😁

So, in short, "Never Let Me Go" is a poignant and heart-wrenching tale that will leave you in tears, but with a few laughs along the way to lighten the mood.

By the way, don't forget to watch the movie too.
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,194 followers
January 17, 2020
3 stars

The story is interesting but it is not exciting enough for me. I liked the main characters, their backgrounds and everything but something was definitely lacking and I can't figure out what.

Was it worth reading? - I don't know. Need more time to process it.
Will I read it again? - Highly unlikely.
Do I recommend it? - It didn't work for me. Maybe it will work for you.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,174 reviews8,391 followers
December 21, 2015
I'll admit, reading a book that you love for the second time is a scary thing. I read Never Let Me Go for the first time 2 and a half years ago, and I loved it. I read it within 24 hours on a vacation, and it whisked me away from that trip I was on, taking me to 1990's England, and into the lives of these children growing up and learning the harsh reality of their world. But it also reminded me of the beauty of friendship, the complicated nature of relationships, the importance of art, and most importantly, the power of words on a written page to instill emotion.

Now, the second time reading this book, I will admit there were some writing techniques that threw me, that I didn't recognize or at least didn't bother me the first time. I also saw some of the characters in totally different lights. Ruth seems like a terrible person, and yet this reading, 2 and a half years later, had me sympathizing with her so much more. Tommy & Kath's relationship didn't move me as much as I remember. But one thing that didn't change about this book for me is how much I love it.

I love the creativity behind it. I love Ishiguro's ability to give away so much by sharing so little. I love the tone this book has, one I will continue to describe as flipping through an old, faded photo album. It's musty and opaque, yet there's a candidness to it that I adore. Ishiguro doesn't shy away from the darker parts of the world. But he is able to approach these subjects from a perspective that offers relatability and insight that is hard to recreate. It's a simple story from the perspective of a simple woman, and still it touches on so much of the complexity of human existence. A book I will return to again and again, and one that keeps me thinking event after finishing it. 5/5 stars
Profile Image for L A i N E Y (will be back).
395 reviews696 followers
May 21, 2017
My very first Kazuo Ishiguro's work. Certainly not the last.

This book aggressively provoked emotions in me without ever being that emotional at all. It didn't whine; didn't scream at me, just smoothly narrated the story to me, very matter-of-factly, even at times in a detaching way. And yet, the sadness I felt after finishing it, and even before that, was so disproprotionate, it took me wholly by surprise.

It wasn't a love at first sight by any means, I needed a whole month to finish it. The first time I got stuck in the middle of the first half and put it aside for months. *gasp*

So even with my 5 stars rating, I understand it's far from perfect and is certainly not a book for everybody.

A few reviewers mentioned that it depends on your personal experiences how much you can appreciate this book. And by god truer words have never been said. Yes! I'm positive that I would not have loved it as much if I read it prior to 2009 / when I still had my 'good health'. I would even venture to say I'd probably have hated this book when I was still one of the normal healthy population. But as it happens, I met Never Let Me Go in 2013 and that fact directly impacted how I conceive the premise and the characters' thought process.

The thing was I get Kathy.

I get why she was so passive. I get why she resisted believing there was a 'way out' for them. Because to lose that kind of hope, that staunch a believe could be extremely devastating. And I understand why Kathy wanted to avoid that kind of heartbreak. I think, in a way, it sort of became her defense mechanism to not be passionate, about anything. To avoid all the disappointments.

I felt so sorry for her. So sorry for them all. For their 'fate', for their ruined friendships, for everything.

It's hard for me just writing about this book and these 'cursed' characters...
It just hit me like a brick to the chest. That is all I can say...

Profile Image for Cecily.
1,137 reviews4,181 followers
April 13, 2014
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 of innocence and accepting responsibilities.

The narration is very conversational (which is fine).

It is initially set in a co-educational English boarding school, in a country house. There are the usual friendships and fallings out, and it has children as young as 5 (maybe younger), but in many ways it seems quite idyllic. However, there is an understated menace from the outset, and the school is oddly obsessed with creativity.

The pupils' vagueness about their eventual fate perhaps shadows that of the reader. Mention is made early on about , but it's only towards the end that the details are made explicit. I think I might have enjoyed the book slightly more if I'd had to work it out for myself (rather than read it on the cover).

The middle section is set in "the cottages" where the leavers go to live for a couple of years or so, and the story narrows to be more specifically about Kathy (the narrator), Ruth and Tommy. This exaggerates the contrast of the first part: they can indulge their hobbies (reading and sex, mostly), living comfortably without the need to work, but they are increasingly aware that soon things will change.

The final section follows the three of them when they leave, and this is where the book completely lost any trace of believability for me. The underlying story is too full of holes, even within its own dystopian world. I just do not believe anyone would have the means to go to such extraordinary lengths when there are far simpler, quicker and cheaper solutions. I was reminded of this when I read Under the Skin, which is also set in an apparently normal contemporary world, but has a similarly far-fetched, overly complex, expensive and time-consuming way of solving a problem.

Also, why have carers travelling round the country to be with different donors, rather than each carer being based in one location? That is implausible and not even necessary for the story!

I was also a little surprised that they were as accepting as seemed to be the case .

Finally, it goes from bad to worse, with the cheap James Bond/Blofeld trick of having one character near the end explaining everything in a rush.
Profile Image for Adina .
891 reviews3,547 followers
October 5, 2017
Just announced as Winner of the Nobel Prize 2017!!! Well deserved.


I believe a good book transmits a feeling, happiness, sadness, outrage etc. Of i do not feel anything after I read a certain book I do no consider it was worth it. And this book defenitely made me feel something. What? I cannot put it into words. A feeling that made me take a break from the for two weeks but also made me return to it when I felt I was in the right spirits. I do not know why but I really liked this book. It is quite different than anything I've read before.
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
October 28, 2017
Originality? Functionality? Individuality? Community? Friendship? Love? Justice?

What is the defining feature of humanity? And who is entitled to that definition? Raising harrowing questions in a dystopian England, "Never Let Me Go" seems to be one of those highly divisive books that you either love or hate with a passion.

I loved it, every single word of it, from the beginning to completion.

To complete, a word that implies a special kind of duty and function in the strange alternative post-1945 society described through the eyes of a couple of friends and lovers, - to complete a life, what does it take? Are you a complete human being regardless of how you were conceived? Are you complete even if you share your DNA with somebody else, somebody with higher priorities, and a more privileged position? Are you complete even if your role in society is to serve as a convenient tool for others?

How much of you is shaped by your upbringing, the drilling of a rigid ideology fed to you in an omnipresent, omniscient education system, leaving no options but the ones decided upon by others? Are you complete even if you are moulded carefully to fulfill an external purpose?

When you complete the mission forced upon you, is the sum of your life what you gave to society, or what you secretly stole from it to keep for yourself?

For me, the answer is: you are a complete human being when you manage to see who you are, to reflect on it, and to make emotional and intellectual decisions based on your situation. If you think, see, feel and love, you are a complete human being, no matter what an oppressive, obscene and dehumanising society does to you on a larger scale.

If your thoughts and feelings are yours, and you are able to share them with other human beings, you are complete. In the positive sense of the word. When you complete, you will have lived. Maybe more than the people who fed on your body to add minutes and hours and days and months and years to their own privileged lives.

Never let go of your humanity!
Profile Image for Henk.
875 reviews
April 16, 2023
A novel like an understated, wrapped in velvet iron fist right in the feels.
When I was 16 I focussed on the parse, plain prose, on world building and implausibilities; now I cried repeatedly because deep down, in a sense I feel our lives are how main character Kathy H. describes hers

But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.

Probably the first review here that I start with a youtube link, but this song (based on the book instead of the other way around) really does capture the style of this tale quite well: https://youtu.be/4UX6tzE7P44

This is one of those books that in a sense work (much) better while rereading it and knowing more of the main premise. I read this story first in 2006, and I think I cried when the movie came out with Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield, but now all the subtle foreshadowing really tugs on heartstrings. Till chapter 7 as a reader you are kept as much in the dark as the 10 till 13 year olds at the special boarding school Hailsham Never Let Me Go is set.

Growing up special...
None of you will go to America, none of you will be film stars. And none of you will be working in supermarkets as I heard some of you planning the other day. Your lives are set out for you.

The skill how Kazuo Ishiguro paints the experiences of growing up on a boarding school, capturing the essence of schoolkids Tommy (repressed anger mixed in with a desperate wish to fit in) and Ruth (seemingly strong willed and a leader but at times lying and bluffing to get this impressions to stick), is excellent.

How he uses a small aside sentence, focussing on how every student of Hailsham wants to be favoured by a guardian, to feel special besides the confines of their small drawer with personal belongings, procured from secondhand shops and each other’s creative output, draws the slightly menacing atmosphere so well.
Or the magic realistic child thinking of Norfolk as a lost corner of England, where everything one has lost can be found back, like the lost corner in the school.
All absolutely heartbreaking when you know more of the purpose of the school.

The fickleness of memory (especially when it concerns a narrator whose role is potentially morally ambiguous while looking back on the past) is another aspect that is done masterfully by Ishiguro, and will be familiar to readers of the The Remains of the Day and the An Artist of the Floating World.

... ending up universally touching
‘But think of it. You were lucky pawns. There was a certain climate, and now its gone. You have to accept that sometimes that’s how things happen in the world. People’s opinions, their feelings, they go one way, then the other. It just do happens you grew up at a certain point in this process.’
‘It might be just some trend that came and went’ I said. ‘But for us, it’s our life.’

Self determination and free will, nature vs nurture, mortality as something that is told to everyone but also not told in a profound manner, comes back more and more in part 2 and 3 of the book.
Part 2 is still in many senses a bildung novel, with a lot of ambiguity of feelings and intentions, characters wanting to be liked versus liking oneself: the staple for any teenager growing up. Here Ishiguro even outdoes Michael Cunningham in depicting three way relationships in all their complexity.

What was special for me on rereading was how for the first time I started to realise that the H. and E. as surname might not be to anonymous talk about classmate, but just a designation.
We all know it. We’re modelled from trash. Junkies, prostitutes, winos, tramps. Convicts, maybe, just so long they aren’t psychos. That’s what we come from. We all know it, so why don’t we say it.
Would that be true and explains Ruth lying, Tommy’s anger, Kathy’s urges?
In the end this theory seems to be invalidated, but still that was a new perspective in rereading the book as well.

There is a dark promise of what happens when humanism fails with advanced technology at hand, with the Hailsham students alienated from regular society
I realized, of course, that other people used these roads; but that night, it seemed to me these dark byways of the country existed just for the likes of us, while the big glittering motorways with their huge signs and super cafés were for everyone else.

Part 3 is in its core mainly focussed around the realisation of mortality.
How we, as the Hailsham students, will lose everything in the end, but keep on living on nonetheless, with this knowledge:
I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold on to 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 I think it is with us. It’s a shame because we loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.
Profile Image for *TANYA*.
1,002 reviews313 followers
April 14, 2017
Um...I'm sorry but I just didn't like it. (Insert frowny face) A few times I thought "okay, here we go!" But then nope, nothing, nada. The majority of the book felt like an epilogue.
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book937 followers
September 23, 2020
I’m not sure why... There is something languid and at the same time shadowy about Ishiguro’s prose that reminds me of Franz Schubert. Something at once elegant and tense, lyrical and anguished, crystalline and autumnal. In the end, I confess that this novel moved me deeply.

It is not at once obvious what the story is about. It is composed in the form of a memoir, written by a young woman, Kathy H., who looks back on her experiences as a child and, later on, as a teenager in an outlying boarding school, somewhere in England. She recounts several episodes involving her closest friends, most of them around minute events: a hand brushing against another, some kids’ artwork, a stark warning against smoking, a lost music tape, a teacher weeping, a scratched elbow, some dirty magazines, how some of the students give each other a pat, some causal sex, some inappropriate comments, etc.

Yet, underneath all these minutiae, the narrator lets us feel that there is always something unsaid, troubling and strange. In many ways, Ishiguro’s book also echoes Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale and that feeling of confusion and unease, but with a softer, low-key tone. Each chapter is built around one of these tiny events going on in this crooked little world, so that the mystery and suspense slowly build up, but we will hardly know what dark secret lies beneath it all until practically the very ending of the novel. A devastating, revolting reveal which is exposed in an almost pensive, resigned yet hopeless manner. It all comes down to a tragic tale about destiny and what it means to be mortal. Something like an impromptu by Franz Schubert...
Displaying 1 - 30 of 48,563 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.