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Book Review: Never Let Me Go

never let me goWhen I finished Kazuo Ishiguro’s book, Never Let Me Go, I experienced a combination of sadness and calm. I had no idea if I had enjoyed it or not. The novel was full of beautiful writing, but that is to be expected from Ishiguro. In the end, I decided that the author had made me feel exactly as he had planned, which is all I could ask for. I like it when books can move me. That’s usually why I complain when I don’t like a book–because it had nothing affecting in it, good or bad.

Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about this novel. I can’t go too deeply into the plot without giving things away. Ishiguro is not known for revealing everything all at once, and I did find the ways in which the reader gradually learns what is happening in the book very, very satisfying.

The plot of Never Let Me Go

It begins with the narrator, Kathy H., a child. She attends a boarding school where the students are allowed fewer freedoms than might seem necessary. They are also subjected to certain requirements and rules that don’t seem quite right until we realize that this a dystopian novel. As usual in dystopian literature, nearly everything we read early on is of import later on, and very little of it is good news for our main characters.

In part one, Kathy H narrates her experiences as a child at the boarding school, and introduces us to her two best friends, Ruth and Tommy. Their teachers at the school are referred to as “guardians.” The children are encouraged (over-encouraged, I felt, at the beginning) to make art. To create.

In part two, Kathy has moved into adult life and is free to move about as she chooses, more or less. We learn more about what it is that she has been prepared for.

In part three, Kathy…well, dang it, I really can’t say too much more. In part three we are confronted with the purpose of the boarding school, a fascinating look into the nature of the soul, some heartbreaking regret, and some lovely writing. If a book has ever deserved to be called “elegiac,” Never Let Me Go gets my nomination.

And now that I’m thinking about it again, I feel the same way I did when I finished reading. Not exactly good, but affected. This book, for me, is nothing if not memorable and haunting.

I learned last week that it has been made into a movie that is actually opening right now. I can only hope that the directors haven’t taken the traditional American route and filled the soundtrack with Fallout Boy and Avril Lavigne.

And there you have it. The totally unofficial Never Let Me Go book review.

Have you read Never Let Me Go? Did you love it? Hate it?


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  • ami September 24, 2010, 5:39 pm

    That was definitely a book that made me think. Profound, sad, timely – a great way to magnify some ‘micro’ issues of today to make them big enough (visible enough) to discuss.