Tuesday, 13 March 2012

'Never Let Me Go' by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)

Synopsis: Never Let Me Go is a dystopian science-fiction novel in which human beings are being cloned in order to provide organs for transplants. The book is narrated by Kathy H, a woman aged 31. Kathy describes in great detail her childhood at the boarding school Hailsham and then moves on to describe her experiences of the outer world.

Since I really liked Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day I was quite keen to read this novel as well, it's another one of Ishiguro's most critically-acclaimed. Never Let Me Go is a beautifully-written book. Ishiguro's prose is simple and straightforward but very evocative. I particularly enjoyed the vivid descriptions of Hailsham and the Cottages. These settings are seemingly idyllic but the reader can always sense that something sinister is going on just beneath the surface. The subject matter is dark but fascinating and it kept me turning the pages.

However, this book is almost as flawed as it is well-written. Never Let Me Go isn't as moving and emotional as it probably should have been given its subject matter. Although I thought Kathy H. was fairly engaging as a narrator, I never really found her all that engaging as a character. I was fairly apathetic towards her - and the other characters in this book - and that stopped me from becoming properly invested in the story. There are none of the flashes of humour that occasionally lightened the mood in The Remains of the Day either. The main issue that I have with this book though is with the characters' reactions to their tragic fate. I mean for goodness sake! They're clones and are expected to keep donating their organs until they die! But the characters are very calm and accepting about all of this which I found frustrating in the extreme. Why don't they ever try to run away?! Why don't they ever try to blend in with the rest of society?! Why do these options never even occur to them?! An online review I read suggested that this is because the characters have been brainwashed to be obedient and submissive all their lives and that rebellion is very difficult for them. Now I guess that would be plausible but, still... I'd have thought that there would have been at least SOME students daring enough to rebel! The human will to survive is extremely strong after all!

Rating: 2.5/5

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