Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
ISBN # 057122413X

Publisher: Faber and Faber

First Published: 2005

282 pages

Rating: 8/10

(Olympic Challenge –
Short listed for The Man Booker Prize 2005

In one of the most acclaimed and original novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary
England. Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, Never Let Me Go hauntingly dramatizes her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School, and with the fate that has always waited for her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.

This is one of those daring books that really pushes the boundaries in terms of the social issues it tackles. It’s uncomfortable to read, but still manages to draw one into the story in quite a personal way. I found myself identifying with the students of Hailsham, who were all completely resigned to their fate and never once even considered the possibility of just walking away and refusing to have their destinies foisted upon them.

In terms of action, there’s absolutely no heady excitement – the pace is quite gentle with milestones marked only by basic rites of passage as the students grow up, yet there’s always a sense of something bubbling under the surface and the future, although never really overtly mentioned, nor discussed in any detail, is something yet to come (almost like a reverse case of “jam tomorrow”, where everyone knows that the future is certain and just blindly accepts it. It’s this feeling of total acceptance that makes it such a tragedy.

It’s impossible to discuss this novel in even the very vaguest of senses without giving something away, and even if you already know a little of what to expect, it’s still rather hard-hitting and incredibly touching. This is one of those books that will stick in the memory for a long time after the last page has been turned.


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