Oct 16, 2007

Never Let Me Go

by Kazuo Ishiguro

This quiet yet disturbing novel begins as the reminisces of a thirty-year old woman of her years growing up in a secluded boarding school called Halisham. Never Let Me Go is the story of Kathy, her best friend Ruth and the passive Tommy, a trio that forms a shifting love triangle. At first the focus is on kids in a private school with their cliques and changing loyalties, pranks, team sports, art classes and speculations about the professors. But there's something very odd about this school. The materials are downright shabby, the teachers are overly anxious to instill in the students how "special" they are, there's a strange emphasis on creativity and very strict regiments to keep them in excellent health. Kept confused and unknowing, the reader shares Kathy's ignorance, only seeing the world through her naive perspective. Slowly it becomes clear what is going on, suspicions being quelled as quickly as they arise- because the truth is so awful the students don't want to know about it and keep themselves in the dark, acting like perpetual children. Even when they grow into young adults and leave Halisham for their final purpose, they retain a passivity and apathetic acceptance of their fate that stems from a loss of all hope...

Ishiguro's understated writing style echoes the mood of the story: solemn, overshadowed and monotone. The whole book feels like an overcast day where you can't see far ahead of you but it's all so gloomy you don't even want to very much. We never learn much about the world at large and its connections to the awful purpose for students of Halisham, because the book isn't about science fiction or medicine. It's about humanity and hope in the face of severe exploitation of the most disposable group of human society: clones.

Rating: 3/5           288 pages, 2005

Read more reviews at:
Book Addiction
Trish's Reading Nook
Things Mean a Lot
Book Chase


  1. I read this a couple years ago; I read a pretty detailed review before I read it that gave a lot away - I wished I had not known all that I did. I think I was expecting more from this book...

  2. Do you think my review gives too much away, to readers who haven't approached this book yet?

  3. Sorry! I didn't mean to imply that you did, but re-reading your post I don't think you have (given too much away) - just enough to catch someone's interest. The Time or Newsweek review I read gave EVERYTHING away.

  4. Thanks. I just wanted to be sure! I tend to get excited writing about good books, and worry sometimes that I say too much and spoil it!

  5. Anonymous10/24/2007

    I really enjoyed this book. I read it in concert with a lecture on the ethics and social implications of biotechnology. It's an intriguing topic. And you've captured the tone of Ishiguro's writing perfectly.

  6. Anonymous7/01/2008

    I linked to your review of this book from mine. I agree; you captured the mood perfectly!


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