Never let me go – Kazuo Ishiguro

Title: Never let me go
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Published by: Faber & Faber
Publication date: Feb 25th, 2005
Genre: Sci-Fi & Drama
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal collection

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I was originally lent this book by my sister as research for my University Dissertation about Organ Harvesting in Popular Culture and the feasibility of it becoming a reality. But that aside, Never let me go, follows the story of Kathy’s seemingly idyllic life growing up in the country-side school of Halsham set in a Utopian style future. Yet there is something more than a bit sinister lurking over Kathy and her bunch of friends that slowly reveals itself as the novel progresses.

I don’t want to write the big spoiler out in this blog post, as that would be unfair, but I do want to say that this book has certainly left it’s haunting impact on me since I first read it a few years ago. (It’s actually one of the few books that I have read more than once and when I first read it to it’s conclusion it had me in tears.) It’s a tale about a society that is so selfishly vile and how that impacts the lives of the main characters; Kathy, Tommy and Ruth.

What is so wonderful about the novel is the way that Ishiguro writes the characters in such a wonderfully investing way. There is so much built up detail about the them that grows throughout the story that you care so deeply what happens about them – even Kathy’s friend Ruth who is just a plain bitch at times. Threaded throughout the book is an overwhelming feeling of forlorn hopelessness for the characters involved which is a rather interesting and addictive trait. You hope that the lives of these children gets better for them and it keeps you turning the pages just to see if it does. And even at the end when everything is revealed there is no over reaction by the characters, they just accept the fate that they’ve been groomed for with no ‘woe-is-me’ meldodrama.

The language used in the book is absolutely haunting as well, which lends well to the caring of the novel, but used to carry that forlorn feeling expertly. There is use of the word ‘completing’ rather than ‘die’ which gives the feeling of purpose, a task to do – rather than life – rather than the end of everything.

Never Let me Go isn’t a story abut science, it’s a story about people living in a world that benefits people that aren’t them. It’s about how they cope with their lives and the exceptionally challenging trials that they face.

It’s not a fast paced book and it doesn’t really take much of a genius to figure it all out – personally I am not for books that require too much brain power to read/figure out – which I understand could bore people who are up for something a bit more challenging.


As another note, there is a film based on this novel. I remember watching it – seeing as I am such an advocate of the book and often like seeing films/TV series of books – but ended up being really disappointed with the offering. What I enjoy about the novel is the reveal part way through. However the film gives you this information right at the beginning and ruins any sense of hope that you feel for the characters being able to make it through their lives without this reveal catching up to them. So in this case of book vs film, I would certainly spend a bit more time invested in book land or you might end up hating both!

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