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Never Let Me Go
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Fantasy/Sci-Fi > Never Let Me Go *Spoilers*

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Maree | 233 comments Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

We were talking about this book a bit in the Unwind thread so I thought I'd start a discussion topic on it so as not to ruin it for others. I feel that this book is one that you really want to go into spoiler-free if possible, and I've mentioned before how I think that it can ruin it if you even read the back cover. The gradual reveal throughout the novel was definitely the best part for me.

So, to those of you who haven't read it, don't read the rest of this topic! Just grab the book and read! Then come back for a visit. :)


message 2: by Maree (last edited Jul 05, 2011 09:04AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maree | 233 comments A lot of people have said that this novel is pretty slow, but I think that's a common thing with most of Ishiguro's work. This one at least I felt captured me in that I was interesting in what was going on. I thought the narrative, with currently day framing her childhood past and the way she kept jumping around was beautifully done.

I was talking about this book with my boyfriend, and he said that he didn't think that the world could ever evolve into one with a carer and donor program like the one in the novel. I'd like to hope not, but I can see it happening if people grow used to being disease free, which was one of the reasons in Unwind as well. What does everyone else think?


message 3: by Kellyflower (last edited Jul 05, 2011 09:36AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kellyflower | 136 comments I read this one last year in July, so I scrolled back and this is my comments after reading it:
"I almost gave up on this one, but I didn't and last night I finished it up.
After reading the book and then seeing the movie trailer I've realized that they've showed the whole book in the movie trailer. It's almost like a mini movie. I think this may be one of those movies that are actually better then the book.
The reason I think this is because while Kathy was speaking of all these things I couldn't really feel any emotion with any of these characters. While in the movie I'm sure your gonna actually be able to see the characters with emotion.
There was one part I remember reading and thinking, wow she said that so cold, like it was a matter of fact. I think the line was something like" we had sex"
The more I think about it, the only one who did show any emotion was Tommy. Was that a flaw they all had, no emotions?"


See, the more I think about it, the more I'm curious what everyone else thinks. Do you think they were all lacking feelings except Tommy?


Has anyone read the book and seen the movie? I still haven't seen the movie.


Heather Bree (blackdotbug) My sweetie chose this book for his literary podcast group to read. They start publishing their discussion of it next week. If you want to listen it's at their podomatic page The Bookhouse Boys, and they have a Goodreads group. I'll be starting the book today myself. :)


Maree | 233 comments I think that was an intricate part of the book, Kellyflower, especially considering they spend much of the book (mostly without really knowing it) trying to prove that they're human and have emotions as well.

I think they do have a number of basic emotions to some extent (Kathy is often hurt by Ruth, though continuously brushes it off because they're 'friends') but their emotions never really overwhelm them, except in the end when it matters most of all.


Kellyflower | 136 comments What was the reasoning for Tommy to have all the emotions in the book? I feel like we were suppose to look at him and maybe think he was in fact normal with emotions when the rest were pretty much like little "stepford wives"


Maree | 233 comments I'm not sure if there was a reason. But I think Ishiguro had to have at least one very emotional individual to show them as humans over nonhumans. But the biggest deal for me about the book was their ending acceptance of what was to be done to them. It's not like running away would be that hard -- Kathy had a car and was allowed to take Tommy on trips and such. No one was tracking where they went. So why didn't they?


Kellyflower | 136 comments I may have to look at the book again. I can't remember if Kathy said something in the beginning of the book that would shed light on that.

No one thought they were "real people" maybe they just felt that no one would accept them and at least in this they were "Someone, something"

Sad. but I was just so disturbed in the lack of emotion. I just wanted to shake all of them!!


message 9: by Heather (last edited Jul 14, 2011 10:31AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Heather Bree (blackdotbug) I think you have to remember with this book that you are reading a first person narrative. I think the only character that truly has difficulty showing or processing emotion is Kath. I think there are plenty of times Ruth is upset or scheming or manipulative and there are plenty of times Tommy is vulnerable or angry or distraught. There was real fear at times, like when the kids avoided the woods. And I think the whole deal with Chrissie and Rodney shows just how scared they were of their imminent future (but they weren't Hailsham). It's Kath that whitewashes all this stuff and turns it into a bland account of little trials and tribulations.

What frustrates me, as I'm still a few dozen pages from the end of the book right now, is something Maree hits on. They all have this overwhelming acceptance of their situation. There's no sense that they realize they are being oppressed and controlled. There is no spark of rebelliousness among the lot of them. That is the most unhuman thing about them as far as I can see. And I think there are three things influencing them in this direction.

One is that they are Hailsham kids. Hailsham was a grand experiment and the people who created it tried really hard to give the kids an environment where they felt cared for and protected and were encouraged to read and create, all in the hopes that the children would feel happier and more satisfied with their lot.

The second thing they did at Hailsham was use a psychological technique for educating the kids about what they were and what their purpose was. They introduced these concepts to the kids before they were really able to comprehend all aspects of what they were being told. So the children internally accepted that they were clones and that they were meant to grow up and have donations without really understanding what their lives would be like.

The third thing about Hailsham was how isolated they were from the outside world. Kath and Tommy only learn much later what living conditions for other clones are like outside of Hailsham. And their contact with normal people is completely limited to the guardians and the people who make deliveries for the sales and Madame (who causes her own kind of stir, but that's different). They are encouraged to read, but what they have access to is completely controlled, as is their access to any other kind of media. There are no newspapers or magazines at Hailsham. There is no television. They learn geography by looking through picturesque calendars, so they don't even have proper textbooks. They have no access to anything that would allow them to form their own opinions.

All together it's masterful and insidious and makes me shudder.


Heather Bree (blackdotbug) Well, I didn't mean to kill the thread. There's a lot more discussion going on over on the podcast GR group I mentioned earlier if anyone is interested. I certainly didn't say everything there is to say about this book.

In fact, Margaret Atwood had some interesting things to say about it a few years ago.


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