Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I’m not sure what prompted me to take a break from my normal diet of science
fiction and computer science books but something prompted me to pick Never Let
Me Go off the shelf while browsing an airport book store and I’m so glad I did
since it’s a superb work of fiction.

This is a story on many levels - there is love and friendship but I think
there is also a level in which the story can be seen as warning on what
happens once a society since starts assigning different rights to people
because of an accident of birth.

The story is narrated in the first person by kathy who, at the age of thirty-
one and near to the end of her life is looking back over her life, loves and
friendships. At first it seems Kathy is at a slightly eccentric boarding
school but although everything seems normal to Kathy it’s possible to sense
very early on that something is not quite right. It’s a creepy feeling like
watching the beginning of a horror film where you know there’s a monster but
you haven’t yet seen it and you don’t know the form it will take.

We soon learn that Kathy and almost everyone she knows is doomed but that the
doom is many years off. Kathy and her friends have time grow up, form
friendships, fall in love while knowing all the time that everything is going
to be ripped away from them and there is little they can do about it.

The characters are superbly observed and believable; the writing is subtle and
never heavy handed. There is no blatant sentimentality or hand-wringing - the
quality of the writing made me feel for the characters and I felt a real sense
of loss at the end of the story.

This is not a happy book - it is bittersweet at best - and yet it demonstrates
the old axiom that it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved
at all in spite of the pain when one’s love is lost.

You might not think this sounds like your kind of book, but give it a try
anyway. It’s not fast paced but if you let yourself be drawn in you won’t want
to stop reading.


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