From the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and author of the Booker Prize–winning novel The Remains of the Day comes a devastating novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss.
As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is modern classic.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Blending dystopian nightmare and humanist coming-of-age tale, Never Let Me Go sunk its claws into us. Set in a sinister English boarding school where teachers are referred to as “guardians,” the story follows protagonist Kathy as she navigates familiar teenage relationships and love triangles. We loved the novel’s nostalgic prose, and the disturbing questions it raises about how willingly people accept their fate. Like his Booker Prize-winning novel, The Remains of the Day, this Kazuo Ishiguro novel also inspired a hit film.
Like Ishiguro's previous works (The Remains of the Day; When We Were Orphans), his sixth novel is so exquisitely observed that even the most workaday objects and interactions are infused with a luminous, humming otherworldliness. The dystopian story it tells, meanwhile, gives it a different kind of electric charge. Set in late 1990s England, in a parallel universe in which humans are cloned and raised expressly to "donate" their healthy organs and thus eradicate disease from the normal population, this is an epic ethical horror story, told in devastatingly poignant miniature. By age 31, narrator (and clone) Kathy H has spent nearly 12 years as a "carer" to dozens of "donors." Knowing that her number is sure to come up soon, she recounts in excruciating detail the fraught, minute dramas of her happily sheltered childhood and adolescence at Hailsham, an idyllic, isolated school/orphanage where clone-students are encouraged to make art and feel special. Protected (as is the reader, at first) from the full truth about their eventual purpose in the larger world, "we were always just too young to understand properly the latest piece of information. But of course we'd take it in at some level, so that before long all this stuff was there in our heads without us ever having examined it properly." This tension of knowing-without-knowing permeates all of the students' tense, sweetly innocent interactions, especially Kath's touchingly stilted love triangle with two Hailsham classmates, manipulative Ruth and kind-hearted Tommy. In savoring the subtle shades of atmosphere and innuendo in these three small, tightly bound lives, Ishiguro spins a stinging cautionary tale of science outpacing ethics.
Star crossed love in a dystopian future
This is a love story set in a subtly dystopian future. The author carefully creates his main characters, paragraph by paragraph , their relationships, and the world that they live in.
The impression of ordinary human teenage and young adult angst as the characters navigate their way through life is almost but not quite right. There is something wrong, something not quite right about this world.
The story balances this sense of strangeness with relatable and complex characters through whom we experience this world.
We follow the protagonist from her young teenage years and experience with her the ups and downs of friendships, love, and transitioning to adulthood. The reader is drawn all the more closely to her as she is able to be with the love of her life.
The reader feels her heartbreak all the more powerfully as the author brings the story to a surprising and tragic finale.
Disappointing book after all the rave reviews.
“Okay, let me tell you about something. But first, let me tell you about something else so you will understand it.”
Get ready for a lot of that. It grates after a while. And the big reveals in the novel are strung out and contrived to get you to keep reading the first half of the book. When they come, they don’t hit as hard as they would’ve if the narrator would’ve straight up told us instead of stringing us along.
There are two really touching scenes, Kath dancing with the pillow in part one, and Ruth’s blowup in Norfolk. Otherwise we get a lot of bland personal highs and lows between Kath, Ruth, and Tommy. Kath, the narrator is an extremely spiteful woman towards Ruth all the way to the end, and Tommy’s dumb as a brick.
There’s not any good humor for levity, and the writing style is not particularly literary, merely competent. If this is one of the best books of the 21st century, then perhaps I’m too hung up on the great classics of the past. And I’m ok with that.