Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Title/Author: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Publisher/Year/Pages: Vintage 2006; 228 pages.
How I got this: Bought it.
Why I read it: The College Students group (on Goodreads) that I created/moderate picked it as the August group read and I’m just now getting to it..
Rating: See my final thought below. I give it four stars.

Set in dystopian England, Never Let Me Go tells the story of Kathy, Ruth and Tommy and their experiences from childhood and adolescence at their secluded boarding school told from the perspective of a grown-up Kathy reflecting on this time in her life. It deals intimately with your typical coming of age experiences but, like all dystopian novels, there are some very strange and mysterious aspects to their school and their lives–unexplained rules and happenings and being told of how “special” they all are.

I have to say that from pretty early on I was just completely fascinated by this society and wanted to know everything there was to know! But the way Ishiguro writes this novel was very incongruous to my need-to-know-everything-now attitude. I’ve always read reviews that describe a story as “controlled” and I’ve never really understood what that meant but this novel is the epitome of a controlled story. You get bits and pieces of this dark cloud of a mystery that is just hanging over the whole story. He’ll bait you with some enticing little tidbit that lets you in on their world and then just keep reeling you along, slowly handing out clues and small fragments of the bigger picture. It was completely effective and I was on the edge of my seat screaming, “Come on Ishiguro– I WANT THE WHOLE ENCHILADA!“..but in a good way! But in the end, this method of giving you bits and pieces was effective because I felt like, at the end, we find ourselves completely up to speed with the main characters. We are finally at a place where we understand everything that they do about their lives and I felt the emotion that they did as soon as things were revealed to them about who they were. I felt their horror and sorrow.

I was really irked because I’m normally that annoying person that figures out the twist in a movie before everyone else and I couldn’t figure this out right away! My boyfriend always groans while watching CSI with me because I always figure out the killer early on. I digress. But anyways, it took me a while to kind of figure out the mystery behind everything and why these students were so “special.”

It took me a little bit to get used to the way it was written from Kathy’s memories. It was quite jarring in some ways and she’d literally be talking about something and then skip off into another memory and then realize that she needed to finish her point from before and go back to it. It wasn’t at all in a linear manner. It takes some getting used to. Not going to lie. But then I was sitting there thinking about it, about halfway through the book, and realized that that is exactly how memories are. I often find myself going from one thing and then some other memory is triggered. After that I thought about it a bit differently. The writing itself was really accessible and craftily done but don’t let that fool you..this is an incredibly DEEP and moving novel.

I really found myself moved by this story and can’t wait to see the movie but know that I’m going to bawl like a baby considering I did after watching the previews for it upon finishing the book. The ending was so heartbreaking and moving. Without saying too much, this book would be an excellent platform to talk about some ethical issues and it raises many questions that I’ve found myself asking before. This book, to me, seemed much more realistic than other dystopian novels. I caught glimpses of our society in the proverbial mirror while reading this novel. And that is scary!

My final thought: Should you read this book? That depends. If you are intrigued because it is a dystopian sort of novel–don’t expect a Hunger Games or anything fast-paced like that. This story just isn’t that. It doesn’t have a loud rebellion but focuses on quieter “rebellions” and characters who might not try to fix their destiny or the world. If you are looking for a non-brainbusting piece of literary fiction that has elements of science fiction and dystopian society full of suspense and the inner workings of human beings, then I’d say go for it!

I’m reallllly getting into these dystopian novels! Any suggestions??

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