Never Let Me Go by

9 October 2007

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Never let me go - Kazuo Ishiguro

ISBN: 0571224121
See also: Wikipedia ; Slate review ; The Dish ; stop motion

I picked this upon impulse. At home, looking for something for the train, I recognised the author’s name and thought that I may as well give it a go. And I’m so glad I did because I loved this book. The narrator is Kathy H., a 31 year old woman, and the book is her memories of life at boarding school. She and other students lived at Hailsham where they were taught by the “guardians” and brought up in a privileged manner. But all is not as it seems and throughout the novels there are hints at something darker.

This is one of those sci-fi books that snobby literature types read, I don’t think it was ever marketed as sci-fi, but being as it tells of an alternate world, with dystopian overtones, and advancements in certain areas. It is a great example of soft sci-fi in that it is concerned with how people and individuals react more than it is bothered by how machines or science actually works.

Throughout the novel the reader is aware that things aren’t quite right, but we aren’t told outright, gradually things are made clearer so that at some point we know exactly what is going on, yet in a way, because of those hints, it doesn’t surprise us. In many ways what Ishiguro does to the reader is what was done to the children of Halisham.

The characters in the book are curiously resigned to their fates. None of them really try to avoid it, none even seem to think of avoiding it, apart from deferring it by a few years. Which of course raises the whole idea of free will and what makes a person a person. Just as importantly the narrator never seems to make a totally definite statement. Her story is one made up of memories, a fact she constantly reminds the reader of, telling us that now her interpretation might be different. Or maybe it didn’t happen that way, maybe she is mis-remembering.

Overall it is a little on the depressing side, what with the resignation of the character’s towards their own fates, but it is still worth a read.

This is tagged as both UK author & Japanese author because Ishiguro was born in Japan, but is a British citizen.

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8 Responses

  1. Nancy says:

    Oh, this sounds good. I am writing it down! Thanks for the review.

  2. Sinéad says:

    It's a depressing read alright, especially as redemption is frequently dangled like a carrot, often in the form of art, only to be taken away. I interviewed Ishiguro when this book came out and he was one of the nicest people ever. Authors are often so grumpy…

  3. alan says:

    One of my favourite books ever!

  4. Fence says:

    It is Nancy, I must read more by him now, I know de mudder has at least one other at home.

    Sinéad is it wrong to say that I liked it because it was so depressing? It just seemed that that is the way people in that situation would have reacted. Too often we have the whole "fighting to be free" but you have to have some notion that you deserve that freedom to search for it.

    Alan, I think it is one of mine too.

  5. Scott says:

    This has been sitting on my shelf for months now because the American cover is really neat, and I got it for a dollar. I hadn't even read the back.

    Anyway, it sounds super neat, so I'll probably actually read it now. Thanks!

  6. Fence says:

    A dollar? Cheap at twice the price :)

  7. I thought it was ok, it's no Unconsoled though (read it, read it now!)

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