Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go Publisher: Vintage
From the acclaimed author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, a moving new novel that subtly reimagines our world and time in a haunting story of friendship and love.

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 fueled 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.

A tale of deceptive simplicity, Never Let Me Go slowly reveals an extraordinary emotional depth and resonance-and takes its place among Kazuo Ishiguro's finest work-
Summary from Goodreads

This is going to be a difficult review for me to write. I'm not sure exactly how to describe this book. It was strange and yet I enjoyed it, though I'm not sure what the point was. The story is about three children who grow up in a boarding school/orphanage type place where they're expected to crank out artwork for some unknown reason. It's an almost idyllic childhood despite there being absolutely no parents, just caring teachers called Guardians. 

Later, things take a rather disturbing turn and yet these characters just take it in stride. I kept thinking that at some point one of these three will realize how wrong the situation is and lead a revolt, a rebellion, an uprising, anything? The whole book felt like something big was just around the corner except we never quite got there. The longer I let my thoughts on this marinate, the more it really bugged me. I'm afraid I'm already giving to much away but  it really bothered me that there was no real resolution to the problems in this book. As a whole I enjoyed the book I was just a bit unsatisfied.


The Book Gatherer said...

Oh good - I'm glad I'm not the only one! I found this book to be so strange and like you was always waiting for something to happen... as well as an explanation as to what was currently happening!!! I've delayed writing a review because I'm still trying to decide what on earth it is I can say about this one!!

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

Perhaps there is a sequel. I don't think you gave too much away. It sounds like a vague/confusing book that is good until you realize there is no solution. Hmmm... interesting.

Jenny said...

I completely agree with you. The book was fine but I never could quite understand what the point was; what we were supposed to understand. Weird.

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

I haven't read this. Thanks for the heads up!

Belle said...

I loved this book (my review is here if you're interested). I know what you mean but after thinking about it I came to this conclusion:


The characters take it in their stride because it's all they know. They don't consider other options because there aren't any for them. When you think about it - they don't have any parents - can you imagine what having NO parents, NO family would do to someone? The only "family" they know is the guardians - and each other. Their view of the world is completely shaped by the guardians from birth. Their brought up in such a way - "told, and not told" - that it's in their nature to accept their fate. But even if they didn't, they don't have anyone to turn to, anywhere to go. Their only hope is to delay the donations, and when that turns out false, they have no other options left.
That was my take on it, anyway. I also read an interview with Ishiguro and he said the story is actually an allegory for human life and the way human's accept death - because we don't have any other option.

Rachel said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who was a little confused? Underwhelmed? I'm still not sure how I feel about this one.

Belle-Thanks for your insight. I love hearing other people's take on things. Makes you notice things you didn't catch the first time. Going to go check out your review now.

Lit Addicted Brit said...

I read this earlier in the year and really enjoyed it - I thought its subtlety was part of what made it so striking, part of why it's so disturbing. It IS a hard book to review though seeing as a lot of what you would ordinarily mention could well ruin the whole experience for someone else!

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