EVERYONE Has Read This but Me - The Catch-Up Book Club discussion

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MODERN CLASSICS/POPULAR READS > Never Let Me Go - *SPOILERS*

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message 1: by Kaseadillla (last edited Jan 01, 2018 07:31AM) (new)

Kaseadillla | 1437 comments Mod
Hello all - starting up discussions for the JANUARY 2018 BOTMs. This discussion is for the group's poll selection for the MODERN CLASSICS/POPULAR READS category: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

This discussion will be FULL OF SPOILERS. If you have not read the book yet and don't want to ruin the ending, hop on over to the spoiler-free discussion HERE .

Happy reading!
Kasey


message 2: by Fannie (new)

Fannie D'Ascola | 231 comments I read and watched it about a year ago. I really like the book, the way the story was written. The movie was really good as well. I thought that Kiera Knightley was particularly moving.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 545 comments I did not see the movie.

Once I figured out what was happening, the sheer underhanded brutality of this system, which is a kind of twisted Stockholm Syndrome morally, an acceptance of murder which has been engineered into a calm acceptance in this society left me with vomit in my mouth.

The induced polite public acceptance is very similar to African Somalian mothers who send for the FGM razor blade specialist for their little seven-year-old girl. They all think it is a perfectly acceptable Good, too. In fact, in many Somalian communities NOT having your little girl’s clitoris cut out is considered awful. Mom is a bad mother and the little girl is seen as a whore.

I am enraged by ANY suggestion ‘it is their culture’ btw. This book clearly shows how community morality can be subverted and perverted by a surface normality of everyday familiarity, and a common sense of ‘everyone does it’ and ‘they aren’t really humans.’ Just like white slave owners in 1860.


message 4: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) This book was one of the books recommended as an analogy for a medical ethics course. It put a face to one of the possible issues we may face some day.

I felt the clones were slaves. Others in the class tried to equate them with cattle. I have a strange mind. I now only eat meat once a week because of this discussion.

It made me more empathic for living creature.


message 5: by Sharon (new)

Sharon | 4 comments I read the book last month as well. I ended up really liking it - the thing I liked about it best is the play with perspective, because seeing the world through Kathy's eyes is incredibly illuminating and fascinating, and only very late in the book do we encounter our reality, that what's happening to them is horrible beyond words. I felt this book was an awesome exercise in empathy and understanding what it looks like from the other side while also telling small stories that manage to be engrossing on their own.

I'm glad I read it and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a simple but harrowing read with extra depth.


message 6: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (anicholsb) | 28 comments I LOVED this book but it's one that doesn't leave you feeling good at the end. I don't even need to pick it up again to get that slightly uneasy feeling that Kazuo Ishiguro did such an amazing job of weaving through the story.

What struck me most about the book was the passivity of the main character and of all the clones. One would expect them to rebel, especially when they are teens and pretending to make plans for their futures, but instead they choose when they are ready to start donating and die. They get real hope from the rumor that lovers could be spared a few years, but when it turns out to be untrue they again accept that with very little fight. I found this sense of acceptance even more frightening than the dystopian future itself.

Speaking of dystopian; it wasn't really, was it? It's almost idyllic! There were no warehouses of clones or even mistreatment (although we did hear a little about other "schools" what were not as nice as our main character's). This was a story about clones in which everyone was pretty happy and content but it was like Kazuo Ishiguro wanted to show us how wrong the practice would be even if everything were done right.

An amazing story.


message 7: by Fannie (last edited Jan 04, 2018 08:02AM) (new)

Fannie D'Ascola | 231 comments Ashley wrote: "I LOVED this book but it's one that doesn't leave you feeling good at the end. I don't even need to pick it up again to get that slightly uneasy feeling that Kazuo Ishiguro did such a..."

If I remember well they tried to change their fate when the went to see Madam with the drawing of Tommy. Also the fact that they grew up conditionned to a certain future must make it hard on them to change.

I just saw that on another site:

****

The story's writer Kazuo Ishiguro spoke to this issue in an interview at the film's launch:
•He wasn't looking to tell the story of slaves who rebel.
•He is fascinated by the extent with which people (when threatened by authority) remain passive.
•The young people in the book simply don't have any conception of a world in which they can escape. They fail to find freedom because they lack "perspective".

https://youtu.be/_jCB59pPG7k?t=2m1s


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 545 comments Great link, Fannie!
: )


message 9: by Mo (new)

Mo (weneed_mobrown) | 30 comments Ashley wrote: "I LOVED this book but it's one that doesn't leave you feeling good at the end. I don't even need to pick it up again to get that slightly uneasy feeling that Kazuo Ishiguro did such a..."

That's a great way to put all of it! I was reading the book and was having trouble not getting mad at the characters for not fighting for their freedom, and for being so passive and naive.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... This little blog/article is a nice comparison of the book and movie:

http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/boo...


message 11: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Roberts (debblesthebookworm) | 41 comments Woah what an amazing read. I’ve just finished it and only began a few days ago, I couldn’t put it down. I thought the story was written so well and I loved reading it from Kathy’s perspective.

I found myself not particularly liking Kathy’s character because she was often putting Tommy down or snapping at him, I loved Tommy and thought he deserved better. Although that “better” certainly wasn’t Ruth.

Only at the end do we get a full understanding of what the students are created for, and I have to say I’m quite glad about that because it left me feeling sad. Although it is hinted at throughout, the story is focused on the relationships of the characters and the trials of childhood, whether a donor or not.

Whilst it is frustrating, I can understand why the characters were so passive and didn’t challenge anything about their life or future. How does one even begin when you don’t know any different?

Whilst I loved the story I do wish however that Tommy and Kathy got their act together before they did and weren’t so passive in this regard. What a shame.


message 12: by Jessie (new)

Jessie Revis | 4 comments I agree with Debbie, I was not a fan of Kathy at all, the little bit of personality she had was all centered on her being rude to her friends. Tommy was the only character I enjoyed in the story.
I think my dislike of Kathy caused me to not enjoy reading this book. It was such an interesting story but not one I would want to read again.


message 13: by Catie (new)

Catie Currie | 98 comments I loved this book, but I love pretty much any Kazuo Ishiguro book I read so that wasn't surprising. My absolute favorite kind of book is where the narrator tells your their own version of a story, withholding key information they aren't comfortable with and you just have to read between the lines to get the real story. Most his books are like this, probably Never Let Me Go is the least like this, because Kathy explicitly tells you what's going on in the end, but it still has that sort of feel to it. Ishiguro's book A Pale View of Hills has, in my opinion, the most unsettling, unreliable narration of any of his books and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who liked Never Let Me Go.


message 14: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Jan 05, 2018 10:45AM) (new)

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 545 comments The situation is one where death is your future. In other words, there is no future. When you are little, people say, "eat your vegetables, chew with your mouth closed, don't swear, what will you be when you grow up?"

Idk, but I think once I grew old enough to grasp the situation, I'd be a crabby bit*h. You wouldn't want to hurt your friends, but it would be difficult to be happy and feel productive, positive.


message 15: by Mo (last edited Jan 05, 2018 11:02AM) (new)

Mo (weneed_mobrown) | 30 comments I agree Catie. I'm not very fond of dystopia stories any more, but this one was much better since we were kept in the dark for so long, I felt a lot more closer to the character that way. I'll have to check out his other books if he writes like that!


message 16: by Marianne (new)

Marianne | 7 comments This was a extraordinary book! It really gave me creepy thoughts about what if our society gets there?

The book begins by introducing terms as caregiver and donor and you as a reader doesn`t get any explanation before the book begins to sneak up on you - what you actually are reading about here. Kathy is very observant, especially when it comes to the dissemination of human behavior, and this sets the tone of the novel. The language is simple and the story is told with some kind of complete calm. A peace that is a contrast to the questions never posed, both by strange teminologi and conversations between the pupils and teachers/opponents that warn the reader that there is something very Seriously lying and lurking beneath the surface. The truth, being told piece by piece and divided outward into the novel, requires that the reader is perceptive. And it's scary. Frightening because it tells something about how our society has evolved and how the value of human life has changed. When you come to the point in the novel where they ask: "Why shouldn't we have a soul?" it becomes apparent to the reader that Kathy, Tommy and Ruth are people of all meanings of the word. But they are seen as freaks by so-called normal people.

The book made a strong impression because the people in the book is not trying to make choices beyond following their determination. As reader I still ask myself: “Why don't they escape these clones, why don't they break the rules?”.

I really loved this book and want to read more books written by Ishiguro in the future :-)


message 17: by Renee (last edited Jan 06, 2018 01:47PM) (new)

Renee (elenarenee) Catie wrote: "I loved this book, but I love pretty much any Kazuo Ishiguro book I read so that wasn't surprising. My absolute favorite kind of book is where the narrator tells your their own version of a story, ..."

This seems to be the buzz of the last couple years. Since Gone Girl every book seems to use the unreliable narrator. Every book claims to be the next Gone Girl or Girl on the train. I am becoming tired of it. It is being over done right now.


t think Agatha Christie created a unigue genre when she first started this. The Murder of Roger Akyroyd is one of th best of these type books. Read it if you haven't read it yet.


message 18: by Megan (new)

Megan Hill | 8 comments I agree with Marianne about the surprising lack of revolt. This was what I was expecting, and I find the book more complex because there wasn’t that activity. The fact that members of the benefitting class were those fighting for human rights was interesting, as was the show of how easily they could give that fight up in the end. But the utter complacency of many in the donor class is fascinating.

I think the character of Ruth draws a contrast to that complacency. She is nasty because she wants to be special. She wants something real. Even when she becomes a donor, her body revolts against the operations and she “completes” before they can take all of her heart (I’m assuming the 4th donation is the heart.)

I will be thinking about this book for a long time.


message 19: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) Megan wrote: "I agree with Marianne about the surprising lack of revolt. This was what I was expecting, and I find the book more complex because there wasn’t that activity. The fact that members of the benefitti..."

I think the lack of revolt is similar to why many abuse victims tolerate abuse. It is what they know. It in a way is normal to them. Many are more afraid of the unknown then what they have.


message 20: by Kerri (new)

Kerri | 700 comments I had to cry when I finished this book. I knew it was coming and I tried reading it slowly to delay the inevitable and maybe have it make less of an impact, but it didn't work. I cried. I don't cry very often.

Kathy's voice is interesting, very calm as Renee said, very peaceful. It tells you from the start what to expect: she is going to become a donor and have some quiet to herself. It opens the context slowly, jumping back and forth with stories and how they relate to now, how they related then, how they all tie together and into the larger story. To me, she has a Peace born of apathy in her voice, if that makes sense. She is beyond caring, she will take her destiny in stride. All the hurts and mistakes and joys and everything from before, it is all one and the same. Things that make memories, things that are precious to her, but she doesn't regret and she doesn't begrudge, there is no fighting the tide. She has lost everyone and everything she loved, now she just has to bide out the rest of the time she has allotted to her. Apathy. Depression. There is no fight, there is no reason to rebel or revolt. Life is what it is and there is no energy to try to stop the unstoppable. She has already lost everything anyway, there is nothing left to fight for.

She went to Norfolk, she thought of her lost loved ones swept in with all the trash and litter. They are called "creatures" even by the people who have given their all for the cause of the clones - not people, never people, but a separate and distinct race of unnatural creatures whose sole purpose is to be sacrificed for others.

I had the idea of cattle too, but they are more like the proverbial "lamb to the slaughter". Innocent and not fully aware. It is something that was "taught but not taught" so they can live in a type of shadow-world to find refuge from the reality of their fates, allowing Hope to spring eternal.

This is just a mind-dump of me trying to organize my thoughts around this amazingly devastating and touching book.

And the rumors of what happens after the fourth donation, keeping them "alive" just to harvest more and more organs, it was horrifying. Terrifying. Sickening.

Question:
What do you guys think the significance is of Tommy continuing to draw his animals even after talking to Madame and Miss Emily? Is it a sign of his desire to leave something behind? Is it just that he learned to find comfort in the action and creation? Is it his small way to rebel against his fate, to keep going and not give up? Is it something else altogether? Does it have any meaning at all?


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 545 comments I think the act of an artistry of creation is a primitive instinctual drive, as well as self-comforting and calming and distracting. Even unartistic or inarticulate people work at fixing up their home or work area, 'personalizing' their space. Leaving some kind of marker behind of one's life, too, is a powerful instinct, I think. Another sign that these people are human, too.


message 22: by Mariana (new)

Mariana | 506 comments I looooved "The remains of the day" when I read it and analyzed it for my Proficiency Test in English at my teens, so I expected this to blow my mind. It felt like a bit childish, because of all the complicated relationship the kids had. I mean, whatever Ruth said was fine and everyone was dancing to her rhythm, but in other context she would have been mocked and bullied. I don't know, I didn't like it one bit.


message 23: by Mariana (new)

Mariana | 506 comments Jessie wrote: "I agree with Debbie, I was not a fan of Kathy at all, the little bit of personality she had was all centered on her being rude to her friends. Tommy was the only character I enjoyed in the story.
I..."


I related to Kathy and felt she was the only true one, she wasn't buying any crap. I didn't like Ruth and would have fought her a lot if we were together. I was never compliant and that kind of people, the one trying to be special by lying or dragging other people to their fantasies, they always made me angry and wanting to fight them, just like Kathy did bursting her bubble.


message 24: by Jessie (new)

Jessie Revis | 4 comments After really thinking about it, I agree with you Mariana, Kathy did feel real and I did appreciate her calling others out and not candy coating things.
I couldn't quite relate to her character and overall I felt the story lacked direction but still a fascinating subject to read about regardless of my feelings about the book.


message 25: by Martina (last edited Jan 08, 2018 10:23AM) (new)

Martina Bučková | 147 comments I see everyone loved this book, unfortunately I did not. I could not relate to any of the characters, I found their relationships shallow, was it really love between Kathy and Tom? Never seen that in the story. She started to have sex with him only to show that intimacy means love? What?
I don't know I somehow expected more, the subject had amazing potential. I expected to learn how the clones where produced, why, who came up with this? Nothing of this was answered in the book. For me it was just a weak, weird romance.
Sorry for saying that, but that is how I feel it after finishing this book. :( I hope I won't spoil the story for anyone.


message 26: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) I think I read the book with different expectations than you Martina. I wanted a book about the emotional lives of the clones. You wanted more of a how to and why.

It worked for me.


message 27: by Mo (new)

Mo (weneed_mobrown) | 30 comments Martina wrote: "I see everyone loved this book, unfortunately I did not. I could not relate to any of the characters, I found their relationships shallow, was it really love between Kathy and Tom? Never seen that in the story. She started..."

I agree with you Martina, I liked that their relationships were noted but I wish we found out more about the why and how... it left something the be desired. It seems like the point of the book is about the feelings of the "lamb to the slaughter", as Kerri said, so it makes sense that he didn't go into the why and how of their situation past them knowing what they were raised for.


message 28: by Sofie (new)

Sofie | 10 comments Even though I liked the book, I also have to agree with Martina. The relationship between Kathy and Tommy (and also all other relationships in this book) seemed very shallow to me, making the book a bit dull.

I understand that the characters were apathetic at times. Nevertheless, apathy can be painful in a very special way. So I don’t think that just because the characters were apathetic means that they have to be lifeless.

That being said, I still really liked the idea of the book and it made me think a lot – about accepting fate, about society and its rules and about how limited our own perspective and therefore our judgement of any given situation can be.

@everybody: What did you think about the part of Tommy having always “known” something? I couldn’t really grasp if it meant “knowing but not knowing” or if it meant that Tommy had always been different than the other clones (e.g. understanding his real fate, which might have caused the tantrums out of desperation).


message 29: by Mariana (new)

Mariana | 506 comments Martina wrote: "I see everyone loved this book, unfortunately I did not. I could not relate to any of the characters, I found their relationships shallow, was it really love between Kathy and Tom? Never seen that ..."

Don't say sorry for your opinion, is a very valuable one and this group makes reading books very rich, because of the variable points of view.
I don't know what I was expecting from the story, I agree that it was shallow and with no clear direction. But I thought all this past week about when and maybe why was it written. Just recently (some 8 years prior) Dolly ewe was created, the first clon, and with it a controversy up to this day, surrounded by rumors about scientists cloning humans and powerful people seeking a clon. Perhaps Ishiguro was portraying the feeling of the time, that clones were a rarity and if they were or not human at all.


message 30: by Annie (new)

Annie Martina wrote: "I see everyone loved this book, unfortunately I did not. I could not relate to any of the characters, I found their relationships shallow, was it really love between Kathy and Tom? Never seen that ..."

I completely see where you are coming from. I didn't relate to the characters at all yet I still enjoyed the book. I definitely saw the shallowness of all their relationships. I like to call it "tip-toeing friendships." It was clear from the beginning that difficult and deep discussions were few and far between and more than just frowned upon when it came to friendships/relationships with the guardians. So the relationships remained shallow.

As far as Tommy and Kath being in love, who knows? No one can really define what it means to be in love in general. However, I do see what you are talking about. These two, along with all their other peers, never really had lessons in love or what it means to be in love. They imitated television, stories, and music. Take for example the ol' knock in the arm by Chrissie and Ruth to their significant others.


message 31: by Annie (new)

Annie Sofie wrote: "Even though I liked the book, I also have to agree with Martina. The relationship between Kathy and Tommy (and also all other relationships in this book) seemed very shallow to me, making the book ..."

You raise a good question Sofie. Did Tommy know all along? My answer, I'm not entirely sure. I think he definitely knew something was up with the whole set up of the school and how they were raised--always spewing different theories of why things are the way they are. However, it is clear he didn't know what Miss Emily told them in the last few pages.

As far as the tantrums, I think they didn't relate to him knowing anything specific. I mostly believe it was due to the relentless bullying he underwent.

But who knows?

What do you think? I'm curious to know!


message 32: by Kristin (new)

Kristin Ames (kmames) | 152 comments I really liked this book. I know some of the people who didn’t like the book say it was because they felt the characters were shallow and there were other people who did not understand why the Donors didn’t fight or revolt. I think it is because they were made that way. They were made to be not fully “human.”

We knew throughout much of the book that the clones were infertile. We also learn at the end about the scientist that was able to enhance certain characteristics. The cloning process was not talked about, but I think they were cloned in such a way that muted their emotion. They still have them, but to a lesser degree. Which might be why they were still referred to as creatures at the end by their biggest supporters.

I felt like most of the characters went through the novel like they were all taking lithium. They didn’t seem to be bothered by things as much as things would bother most, they seem to forgive so easily, and I did not feel like any of the characters really really loved one another. Sure I was happy for tommy and Kathy when they finally got together but I didn’t experience the same joy I normally get when this happens. Even when they were together the way Kathy described sex seemed so superficial.

Also there were moments in the novel where I do think the characters experienced that full “human” range of emotion and when they did they were often deeply unsettled by those feelings (I.e. Tommy’s outbursts, Kathy’s sudden sex urges).

A very troubling and thought provoking novel indeed.


message 33: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Jan 10, 2018 05:10PM) (new)

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 545 comments The way I interpreted the characters and their actions was the same as I interpreted the action of any society who find out they have no future, like On the Beach, where people in Australia are waiting to die from nuclear radiation. There has been a nuclear holocaust and the people of Australia was still alive only because winds carrying radiation poisoning hadn't reached them yet.

Everyone knew Death would strike them all down in less than a year. Before the nuclear war, they had reasons to finish high school, plan for college, study, finish knitting that baby jacket and matching hat, save for that down payment on a house, plan on getting married, hope s/he would say yes to their marriage proposal, etc. Afterwords, well. Why bother with haircuts, going to work, exercising, eating healthy, or hope to fall in love?

People react differently, of course. My neighbor who had been told she had six months to live, begin to read all of those books she had meant to read and watched TV, but no more news. What did she care about news anymore? Her adult children stressed and fussed about she getting the right food, but she ignored them. What did she care anymore about eating three helpings of vegetables? If they talked about little Joey having had some trouble on the bus to school, she could barely muster up interest.

I recently read The Last Policeman, which was about the end of Earth because of an asteroid heading our way. The scientists in the novel said the asteroid would strike Earth, and they could calculate exactly when it would hit, of course. It made me think how a person would react in such circumstances when jobs, money, education, law and order, governments, and family planning would no longer matter much.

To me, these characters would have realized everything about a future was hopeless. Study and learn to be a doctor, a lawyer, a writer of literature? Fall in love - for what, why? Get married - why make the effort. Learn to care for someone? Why? If you make the effort to love, there is nothing to be hoped for or gained -only pain of loss, no future, no kids, no mortgage, no saving money. If you start watching a TV series, not only might you never see the last episode, you get the agony of seeing other people have a life and a future, with plans and a future of love, marriage, career success, when all you've got in the future is pieces being cut out of you and nobody cares about that except you. It is like during World War II and you are a pretty young Korean woman who is selected to be a Japanese 'comfort' woman. Or a woman in Afghanistan who has no education, married at age 12 to a cousin who is 40 as a trade for money, and has eight children by age 25, and has no rights whatsoever.

I think I would be very apathetic most of the time, in between bouts of rage and self-destruction and hate.


message 34: by Kaseadillla (last edited Jan 14, 2018 04:40AM) (new)

Kaseadillla | 1437 comments Mod
I just finished and I am so torn. The message at the end was expected given all of the bread crumbs throughout the story, but still... horrifying, on purpose.
At times this was a little slow for me and felt like I was slogging through, but I keep coming back to a few things and can't seem to get them out of my mind, making me think this book is better than I initially thought because I can't seem to stop thinking about it:

- Miss Emily's explanation and her whole "I only have 5 minutes to deliver you the death-blow of your life but that's enough because you don't really matter and I have a cabinet to move" attitude at the end. How she justified herself by saying "we did all we could for you and suffered for it, you have no idea" in a nutshell while Kathy and Tommy listen to her and realize that there is no way to put off what is essentially a death sentence. "You had it better than anyone else, so be grateful to us." I'm still thinking about it, it's so twisted.

- The writing style made Kathy and Tom and Ruth and their relationship with each other, as well as others, and even how Kathy's voice painted the relationships between side characters in the book... I know others mentioned above that they felt he characters and relationships were shallow. I can't help but agree, and also can't help but think that maybe this was intentional? Were we supposed to get the feeling that the "donors" were shallow, as if they weren't really human? That they were different from us so that even though we felt pity, we didn't necessarily feel guilt? I'm so torn with this that I keep thinking about it.

- One of the books Kathy read's to Tom while he's a donor is "One Thousand and One Nights" and I looked it up. It's a collection of short stories from the Middle East that the wife of a sultan supposedly told her husband to prevent him from killing her. They were so vivid that legend says the sultan put off her death. Amazingly clever to include this in the book, how story telling avoids or prevents or puts off death.

- I keep wondering why the donors didn't just rebel. Why didn't Tommy and Kathy run away when they didn't get the answers they wanted from Miss Emily in the end? They were conditioned, they had no perspective, it was collective action under authority and to break away was harder than to accept a harsh reality of dying... all seems plausible but I still feel like something's gotta give. The power of the culture here, that the donors had no idea that their lives could have worth if they only believed it, that they had no idea they had the right. I can't stop thinking about it.


message 35: by Kerri (new)

Kerri | 700 comments I think Kristin's theory about them being genetically altered could explain a lot about why the relationships felt shallow and why they did not rebel. They did seem exceptionally compliant to authority (when the lady at the art gallery was telling them about the artist, none of them cared, but they gathered around her obediently and let her tell them basically all she wanted). I personally didn't feel the relationships themselves were shallow, more that Kathy's telling of it was shallow and removed. But I am kind of an optimist like that and I can definitely see the other side of it too.

And that would also explain their harsh reactions to people who stepped over lines or who acted "unnaturally" - like Tommy with his tantrums, or the girl who asked a "taboo" question/made a "taboo" remark (I forget) that they all wanted to know the answer to but knew better than to ask themselves. Or it may explain some of the "ghost stories" of the woods they told themselves when little, "Don't leave the compound, don't break the rules, or you will be punished". The boy is killed and mutilated, the girl is not allowed back in, both are horrifying options intended to keep the children in line.

Kase- I appreciate your comment about Miss Emily's interview with them! It is definitely a twisted experience. And to think that they weren't arguing to END the donor program, but just to better the conditions of the donor lives and treatment. (Unless I am misremembering, I had to turn the book back into the library). It was never about them getting a choice to live out their lives how they choose.

And I totally did not pick up on the 1001 Nights tie in - I knew what it was, but I didn't think about the application :)


message 36: by Kerri (new)

Kerri | 700 comments Also, something random I have been wondering although it has no point at all - what do you guys think their last initials signify? Anything? Nothing?

Like, could it be the "number" they are for their clone model? Kathy H would be the 8th "Kathy" clone. Or maybe the factory/lab/whatever place they came from.

Like I said, no bearing on the story, no way to know one way or the other, just something that has been in my head.


message 37: by Cassie (new)

Cassie (areadaburrito) Ugh. Add me to the list of people who didn't enjoy this book. The whole thing felt contrived and immature. Some of my thoughts while reading:

- Kathy projects her thoughts and feelings onto everyone around her. It's mostly "I'm sure the whole group was thinking about *random memory* and reacted to the present situation accordingly."

-Ruth is the worst. Why was anyone friends with her? And Tommy was written to be so accommodating, so sensitive, and always saying the right thing... bleh.

- Part 1 was her obsession with Tommy. Part 2 was her obsession with Ruth. Part 3 was her obsession with how awesome she thinks she is (of a carer).

- The only chapter I enjoyed reading was the one when Miss Emily explained the whole thing. That was awesome.

- Speaking more to the immaturity: at the end, Tommy's anger issues were because 'he always knew'?? lolwut. That's a bit of jump.

I really think I would have enjoy this more as a short story.


message 38: by Gaye-lynn (new)

Gaye-lynn Allen I liked this book. In most of the books I've read about dystopian or alternate societies, the "oppressed" or "alien" group - the ones NOT enjoying the good life - rebel in some way. I too, wondered why no one tried to blend in and pass themselves off as not-a-clone.
I also want to know if they only donate organs to whoever they were cloned from, their perfect match, or if they are used as spare parts for anyone. What if the person you were cloned from never needed anything? I'm assuming the clones can be used for spare parts for anyone. So does that mean non-clones never die?
Would I want a clone of me so I could have spare parts when needed?
And the premise of "growing" a person to save another person is not unheard of. People have had babies in the hopes that they would be a good match for their child with leukemia that needs a bone marrow transplant. For a great story about that, read My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult.


message 39: by Gaye-lynn (new)

Gaye-lynn Allen Kerri wrote: "Also, something random I have been wondering although it has no point at all - what do you guys think their last initials signify? Anything? Nothing?

Like, could it be the "number" they are for th..."


Now you got me wondering about that! Things like that drive me crazy. I wish the author would have told us! LOL


message 40: by Kerri (new)

Kerri | 700 comments Gaye-lynn wrote: "Now you got me wondering about that! Things like that drive me crazy. I wish the author would have told us! LOL"

Haha, sorry! I always find myself wondering about unimportant minutiae like this! It is a little crazy, but it is also kind of fun. Especially in the setting of books like this because there is SO MUCH left unexplained, it's an entire world that we will never get to explore further. And to the narrator, it is just life and doesn't need explaining.

I think they are used as "spare parts". I was wondering about the possibility of them having just One person to donate to until I think about Norfolk when they went to see Ruth's "possible". Ruth says that someone like that lady wouldn't have been to a cloning center, that the types of people used were druggies and prostitutes and the like, I believe she says they were modeled "from trash". If they were going for one person, then that statement wouldn't make sense.

So then I wondered if maybe they were modeled specifically with different bone marrow/whatever organ requirements are needed for donation. And maybe that is why some people start donating sooner than others - they are in more demand. So for example, Kathy is a carer for 12 years because her type is less in demand, but Ruth and Tommy become donors more quickly because their types were more in demand. But I don't know enough about organ donations; I know there has to be a "match", but I don't know what constitutes that match.


message 41: by Laura (last edited Jan 14, 2018 05:11AM) (new)

Laura (laurapainter) | 38 comments I'm loving the discussion of this book! So many interesting points made. I did enjoy this book for the most part. I finished it over a week ago but have still been thinking about it. Isn't that the sign of a decent read? It's thought provoking and even though I don't always like it, it left me with questions after the story ended. I found it almost refreshing that it didn't go the route of someone being the hero or trying to escape their fate. You keep expecting and hoping someone will rebel, but they don't! I'm not sure why Kathy puts up with Ruth's controlling behaviour from the start but I think my mind just reasoned that they were immature and acted accordingly.

I also assumed that Kathy hadn't been called for donation at the same time as her friends simply because her organ type wasn't required yet. And it is no doubt run as a business -- meaning that if she was a decent carer, then she would be kept in that role for as long as possible. They'd have to keep a balance of carers and donors while more clones are being produced. Also, a possible theory is that once someone started donating, then they're on their way to being phased out of existence so they'd keep taking parts from them until they completed before starting on a new donor.

I agree with the previous comments, as I also craved to know a bit more details like how they got their names and how the cloning was done and for whom. I also really wished something more had developed in the story with the "possibles"! Not sure if I can explain but I found Ruth following her possible a very intriguing part of the story.


message 42: by Jefferson (last edited Jan 15, 2018 01:20AM) (new)

Jefferson Lam | 7 comments I can feel the excitement in these comments, which is interesting to me because I wasn't too crazy about this book!

I had high hopes for this book. What kept me going was the enticing mystery and wanting to see exactly what was going on in this world. Slowly the curtain was drawn back. They're raised just for their body parts!? They're CLONES!? Yet with every plot reveal, when you think that maybe this will cause a turn of events... nothing happens. There's very little plot to be had. Our protagonists just continue to placidly accept their fate and live our their melodramatic awkward teenage years. Can we please go back to the fact that you're all clones doomed to spend your life being caretakers and donating your organs? Oh you just want to talk about how who's dating who and occasionally feel sad about your lives... ok.

In the end I enjoyed the slow unveil of the mystery, and the world makes for interesting food for thought, but there just wasn't enough to hold onto in terms of plot. I can appreciate that the very point of the book is this passive acceptance of questionable social norms, but it doesn't make for a good read (if you will). Also, maybe Kazuo Ishiguro's writing style just isn't for me because I tried to read The Remains of the Day and was bored to tears.

Cassie wrote: "- Kathy projects her thoughts and feelings onto everyone around her. It's mostly "I'm sure the whole group was thinking about *random memory* and reacted to the present situation accordingly."

-Ruth is the worst. Why was anyone friends with her? And Tommy was written to be so accommodating, so sensitive, and always saying the right thing... bleh."


I'm totally with you on these points. Ruth had no redeemable qualities and our protagonist Kathy just had a weird way of narrating things.


message 43: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Jan 15, 2018 03:36AM) (new)

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 545 comments I can easily put myself in Ruth's, or Kathy's or Tommy's head.

Did anyone else read about the Romanian orphans, discovered in 1990? Babies and children had never been picked up or cuddled or held in their lives for years. It was an unintentional experiment in raising children without any human affection or touch.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman...

The clones in this novel had only each other for affection and warmth, but they were all children who had no role models, only instinctual desires for parental love and affection, a mother.

But 'Caring' was a perverted concept taught them as their only purpose and the only way they mattered or were expected to be useful. Being lovable was discouraged. Being useful was their purpose. Being 'good', getting adult approval only happened if they didn't make a fuss, did what they were told, kept calm. No one wanted them to be the best they could be. They were to eat, grow, be healthy, keep their brain cells minimally active. Their bodies were not be thought of as for their own use. They simply were housesitting for the real owner of their flesh, blood and bones. At no time were they to be allowed to expect a personal future.

Teachers could not get attached for their own mental health. Teachers could not love, or even like, any student and give them false hopes either. If any teacher showed or actually felt any parental feeling or an attachment, it would be horrendous and wrenching heartache for both. So it would be important to be coolly unattached and perfunctory with the clones, to keep them mentally calm and physically healthy.

If I was taught or shown by adults only perfunctory dutiful polite minimal institutional care since I was a very young child, it would soon feel to me that I would never honestly matter to anyone, or if I soon realized no parental adult (whose love and approval I am hardwired to be desperate for as a child) loved me or valued me or wanted the best for me, or no adult had any hopes for me and never said a single word of honest encouragement or had joy in my talents or accomplishments, I would soon be going through the motions quite listlessly myself.

What teacher could emotionally afford to become truly attached to or encourage any orphan clone child to hope for a future for their own mental health? What sympathy for prisoners could the German Nazi guards of extermination camps afford to feel for their own mental health?

If I saw that no matter how hard I tried to learn a skill, or no matter how perfect my homework was, no one thought it amazing enough or gave it a second glance, I would begin to feel as if trying at anything was hopeless. If every accomplishment earned me an indifferent perfunctory pat on the head before it was tossed and forgotten by everyone, I would soon figure out the uselessness of any effort in my part. Even little children know when they are being patronized, only tolerated, being kept away at arm's length.

Seeing another orphan trying so hard 'to be good' or 'loved' or 'admired' would disgust me, enrage me, depress me, in knowing how stupid their effort, much less their joy or hope was. It would magnify my own pain and loss. I might want to stop the other from trying so hard, knowing it was all so useless for me and them. I would be wondering "why me?" "Why is this my fate?" "Was I bad at birth?" "My fate is to be of no value as a person, so I must deserve this somehow if I am unlovable to anyone." "Maybe my only value is sacrificing myself." "If my only value or to be loved is being a good girl/boy by 'Caring' then I'll be the best and maybe I'll have the social value/love I crave." "I must deserve this because I am unwanted by any mother or society." Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Abused women also can think like this - being unlovable, lucky to have at least someone who kinda cares, even if it means being beaten or abused, all that is deserved because of being so unlovable and unwanted. Or being simply a body, a vessel, the only value. No value as a person.


I'd be moody, hopeless, depressed, sad, full of grief and sorrow for myself and my friends, occasionally full of horror, and dismay. I would realize if I fell in love, anybody I loved was to die. Anybody who loved me would die, too. Love would be incredibly stupid and a waste of time, effort. If you love anybody, there will only be incredible pain, hurt, loss. I would hate myself for loving anybody, and hate the loved one for being alive. I would think, why am I so stupid to fall in love? I am SUCH a fool! Why did s/he have to make me fall in love? If I had never met him/her, this pain would not be happening, why did that person have to exist? I wish that person never existed, I wish I did not love that person, I'll make that person hate me and maybe I'll stop loving that person - etc etc etc etc.

What would being a 'good' person mean to me, in such a world? Maybe going obediently like Elois into the pots of the the Morlocks? (H. G. Well's The Time Machine

Tommy or Ruth or Kathy may have, when very very young, at first, when in their toddlers or child lives, were delighted or took joy in being alive. "Look, oh, look! A butterfly!" A teacher may have coldly said, "Stop it. That's enough." -maybe because the teacher was feeling terrible because s/he did not want to see a child clone have feelings of joy, not wanting to prolong contact with a cute child having joy, knowing the little beautiful child was going to be cut up in pieces, knowing the emotional suffering in store for the child later as it grew older, knowing from experience the expression of these children's faces when they found out.

Every single clone in the school was on death row, convicted to die by disembowelment, emasculation, or quartered, or having their heart, kidneys, liver, blood, and various other parts removed - not all at once, but piece by piece, over a period of years.

If it was a teen me, I do think it would be quite beyond me to be nice, loving, hopeful, and even maybe I'd quit being a 'good' nice person or a 'good' friend, which is what I am expected to do by teachers and my oppressors, and I might refuse to have a smile on my face for the peace of mind of everyone.


message 44: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 536 comments Xemai wrote: "I don‘t think Kathy was rude, she just was insecure and didn’t have the courage to express her feelings. Actually, Tommy never opened himself to Ruth, who instead betrayed Kathy..."

I thought Kathy was portrayed more sympathetically in the movie. She and Tommy cared about each other, but they were both too passive when Ruth inserted herself into the relationship and "took him."


message 45: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 536 comments I too was frustrated that they didn't rebel. It was almost as if they believed that 'this is the hand we were dealt. This is the deal. We We get taken care of and have a pretty easy life, and then we fulfill our purpose. This is what we were made for.' Many cultures have a status hierarchy or caste system of some type, and children are taught to know their place.


message 46: by Leesa (new)

Leesa I liked this book.
For me it was a fast read, although I felt myself around the 60% mark starting to slow and get annoyed with the characters. I couldn’t stand Ruth and was confused as to why Kathy kept the friendship considering she was manipulative, annoying and a compulsive liar.

I also hated how Kath and Tommy didn’t get together at the Cottages as it was obvious they were meant to be together and that Ruth was in the way of that, a shame they didn’t realise as maybe it would have changed the outcome of the book.

I didn’t find the characters shallow but more that they just didn’t know who they were meant to be or what they were meant to do and that led to long days of just reading or having conversations about very little. I found their situation to be shallow and they were just caught in the middle, not knowing how to be.

I felt sad for them at the end finding out their was no hope and frustrated that they didn’t run away too, though I know why they carried on as normal.
All in all I enjoyed the story and the urge to find out the truth along with the characters led to me finishing the book faster than I normally would do.
It’s come to me at a point in my life where I’m questioning the norms in the world and the way we comply with them and this book definitely tied in with some of these issues perfectly for me.
Good book choice!


message 47: by MeigaLectora (new)

MeigaLectora I had never read anything by Kazuo Ishiguro. I liked this book, I liked the mystery along the story, which made me keep on reading it, but there were also moments when I got tired of its slowness and I didn´t feel so absorbed by the story as before.
I must admit I wasn't really conscious of all the stuff underneath the story until Kathy and Tommy spoke to Miss Emily. I know Kathy mentioned donors and carers at the beginning, but I didn't grasp its importance.
Kathy makes us see all the time that there is something weird and serious behind Hailsham. They grew up in an atmosphere of uncertainty and no one dared to ask questions about their future. Not only did they know nothing about what will come next but also weren't allowed to get in touch with people who had moved to the next step of their controlled lives. This is how Kazuo Ishiguro keeps the mystery, and I confess I was as blind as they were at that moment. I tried to pay attention at the hints given by Miss Lucy but I didn´t get any clues about the real inner subject until I read the last part of the book.
Obviously, I knew they would become donors at the end, but the idea of being donating their organs constantly, one after the other, had never crossed my mind. What impressed me the most was what I said above and the fact that no one seems to care about them or their feelings, not even those who worked at Hailsham . So what's the point in providing them some kind of education if they aren't allowed to escape their fate anyway?


message 48: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Jan 17, 2018 10:08AM) (new)

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 545 comments The education is, I guess, to keep them calm and distracted while their valuable flesh and bones grow sturdy. Maybe it is a slight alleviation of society's conscience so 'real' people can say the clones were compensated for their sacrifice of, for example, eyes, and other transplanted 'donations' when needed. The alternative might be prison cells? Chains and armed guards? Crates, like for dogs, or worse, animal pens like for chickens and pigs?

Maybe a clue to attitudes is how the clones are encouraged to do more Artwork, which is sold, like the 'artwork' of those elephants and apes who paint for the amusement of zoo and circus visitors, to help with the costs of their upkeep? To continue the public myth, along with controlling the media message, the clones are happy and not being mistreated? It is obvious how society is soothing their conscience over using sentient human beings as a body parts bank.

Public relations has been important for spinning messages to the public for millennia.


message 49: by Danielle (new)

Danielle I felt the point of housing them well and educating them was essentially done to give the people receiving their organs some peace of mind. If I understood correctly, normal people had clones of themselves made to harvest from later, which is not something I personally could do without feeling like a murderer. Perhaps people with more money gave their clones better lives, as it was alluded to clones at schools other than Hailsham were not so great to grow up in.


message 50: by Leesa (new)

Leesa That’s an interesting perspective Danielle, I had thought it was a random call for donation but the way you have imagined makes it seem all the more sinister, if this is the case...


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