Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

As a child, Kathy, now thirty-one years old, lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fuelled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed–even comforted–by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood—and about their lives now.

I read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro as a book club read, but it has been on my reading list for awhile now. It was a bit of a mixed novel for me because on one hand it was hard to put down, but on the other hand it was a little boring and a part of me could not wait to put down or find reasons to distract myself. It was actually quite conflicting come to think about it, but by the end of it I could appreciate the reading experience for what it was because it really is one of those novels that you have to push through and past any dislike to appreciate. It is a novel that must be seen as a whole rather than in parts.

If you read the synopsis it makes it sound like there is this big secret hinted at which the characters, and yourself as the reader, have to go through this journey to find out what it is. I didn’t find that to be the case at all. I figured that part out within the first twenty pages. Whether that was meant to be the case or not it doesn’t matter because in the end it wasn’t really the story. That is something I was disappointed about at first because I was expecting an Dystopian novel and would have loved it to be, but I accepted it around the 100 page mark.

The story wasn’t about what the synopsis hints at or what it makes you believe it is about. I think the story is more so about these people coming to terms with what their existence is about, connection and what bounds people together,  and what bounds people to their past.

It is done well in that case, but it did get on my nerves with how everything about what these people are doing there and how they came to be is hinted at throughout the story. It was also interesting because the main character is meant to be in her early thirties, but at the same time she didn’t come across as that. To me these characters came across as much older and it really does change the atmosphere of the story.

If you’re looking for a Dystopian story with a conspiracy of sorts which focuses on that you might want to go somewhere else, but if you’re looking for a story with a broader meaning told via a Dystopian backdrop then you might just enjoy this one. The only thing I recommend is to make sure you read the whole lot before deciding if it truly is good or not.

  • Demographic: Adult fiction and Modern Literature readers
  • Genre: Modern Literature, Science Fiction
  • Reminds Me Of: The Island, a 2005 film about people genetically created for spare parts, but Never Let Me Go has far less action and is more about the characters rather than the conspiracy.
  • Rating Out of Five: 4
  • Challenges: A book club read

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