‘Never Let Me Go’, By Kazuo Ishiguro – A Review
My Rating – 7/10 (Up there with the best, but far from perfect)
Genre – Sci-fi, Political
After recognising the name of the author and title of the book, I was suspicious – was this going to be another anime-influenced ride of cliché? I’ve been there, I’ve seen that, I haven’t enjoyed it. I also assumed the book would be a romance, judging by the title, and not for the first time, I’ve proved that old proverb right – no more judging by covers for me!
‘Never Let Me Go’ is a fantastically written sci-fi theorem, almost, on the concept of growing clones for human transplants. We follow the story of Kathy H., a thirty-one-year old, and listen to her reminiscent days at a special school, and the continued unravelling of what is really, really going on around her.
So as not to give much away, I’ll not divulge too many plot details, but first, we have the positives;
I felt, whilst reading the piece, that Ishiguro really understood people. His main character, though a little distanced, is appropriate and engaging, and from the start it was a difficult book to put down. Granted, the plotline is relatively slow, but considering the book’s theme, it’s a given. Overall, the tone of the book was slightly alien; the descriptions of Ishiguro’s characters were definitely in-depth, and Ruth was a favourite of mine, despite the fact that in real life, I would probably have throttled her. Out of the main characters (a Trio, Kathy H., Tommy and Ruth), she seemed the most deeply developed and interesting of them all.
The book had its spiritual moments, and its humor (though, unfortunately, rare) was appropriate and humorous enough. The real credit, here, goes to Ishiguro’s ability to address situations and types of people – and throughout the book, keep you guessing. Though by the middle of the book there is no true mystery anymore, there are rarely points when we know more than the actual main character, and this is what really keeps you going.
I’ve got mountains of praise for this, of course – but on the negative side, I felt towards the end the book felt a little stretched. There is a great deal of build-up, a massive amount of character development, hints and little events; indeed, some beautiful scenes, such as the overturned boat and the scene of the book’s namesake.
However, the ‘real’ ending, which all this built up to, though far from a let-down, lacked something important. I find it difficult to decide whether this was an intentional thing – there was definitely something missing, and it may even have been a factor of Kathy’s detatchment from life itself, and from her own feelings; making yet another point against donor-clones – but again, there was a lot of emotion lacking from the ending, moreso than in the rest of the story.
Another credit, though; steering far away from negativity; is the book’s romance. It’s realistic, compelling, and just a little bit heartbreaking. Ishiguro’s exploration of sexuality, told in an almost entirely Asexual fashion, is nothing short of brilliance; whether it be a small speech about ‘Umbrellas’, a derogatory term for homosexuality, or Kathy H.’s own stunted attitude to sex itself.
All in all, definitely worth a read. Kazuo Ishiguro is a far beyond competent, introspective and intelligent author, who really leads you to question the real issue the book is trying to put forward here, whether you agree with Ishiguro’s negativity towards it or not. A brilliant book, both for awareness and storyline, and something that can really take you out of real life for awhile. Read it!