Thursday, October 7, 2010

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Title: Never Let Me Go
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Publisher: Vintage (Imprint of Random House)
Paperback, 288 pages
Date Published: August 31, 2010 (Originally in 2005)

Description (Taken from Goodreads):
From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.
Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is another classic by the author of The Remains of the Day.
The thing about Never Let Me Go is that it is best to go in completely blind. I had no clue what the book was about, I wanted to see the movie, so I figured I’d read the book first. Going in blind about the plot, about the entire novel, made it that much better for me.

Told by Kathy, a thirty one year old ‘carer,’ in reverent back and forth memories from her present to all the tiny, yet meaningful moments that spattered her life in the past, makes the book feel very conversational which makes it more personal; like Kathy is reliving her past with the reader. She recalls her days at Hailsham, the boarding school that she shared with others like her; with Tommy and Ruth, her two closest friends. Getting to know these three is like getting reacquainted with an old friend, but the fact that they are special never eludes the reader.

The plot for the book is not hard to guess once you begin reading it. The hints about what is going on are not very subtle at all, but the execution of getting to the final reveal is done so beautifully and delicately. Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy’s fate is inevitable. They know it, but we, as readers, will understand it more than they ever seem to. We are the ones who feel the ache of innocence lost and the heartbreak of the future to come.

Life, love, and death are all monumental moments in our lives, but this book tackles the brevity of life and the notion that we are stuck in our roles, in the lives that have already been forged for us. Hailsham students have a purpose and it may not be one we are all comfortable with.

Ishiguro goes beyond the loss of innocence and makes you question the meaning of life, who deserves it, and just how large a role fate plays in life. Never Let Me Go is a powerful, moving portrait of humanity at its best and worst; with all the splendor of childhood innocence and the harsh reality of the cruelties the world has to offer. It’s not simply a book about human mortality and loss; it is about the nature of human beings and the ethical dilemmas that could easily arise in the world we are developing. This book will make you feel something and only the best ones can do it so well. It’s been hailed as the best novel of the decade and I can only agree because this is truly a masterpiece.

Opening line(s): My name is Kathy H. I’m thirty-one years old, and I’ve been a carer now for over eleven years. ~ pg. 3

Favorite lines/passages (I've got two): 
“One day, maybe not so long from now, you’ll get to know how it feels.” So you’re waiting, even if you don’t quite know it, waiting for the moment when you realise that you really are different to them; that there are people out there, like Madame, who don’t hate you or wish you any harm, but who nevertheless shudder at the very thought of you – of how you were brought into this world and why – and who dread the idea of your hand brushing against theirs. ~ pg. 36

And this one:

It never occurred to me that our lives, until then so closely interwoven, could unravel and separate over a thing like that.
      But the fact was, I suppose, there were powerful tides tugging us apart by then, and it only needed something like that to finish the task. If we’d understood that back then – who knows? – maybe we’d have kept a tighter hold of one another. ~ pg. 197
 *This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it. 

As far as I know, the movie has yet to set a worldwide theatrical release date and it's still only on film festival circuits. Hopefully it hits theaters nationwide soon because it looks incredible. Here's the trailer for the movie, which has an altered version of one of my favorite lines in the book in it: 


Melissa said...

I just barely heard of the impending release of the film, and I didn't even know it was a book! I love the sound of it though, and this is such a beautiful review, Nikki! :)

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I have been wondering about this one. I too didnt know much about it but now that I read a bit of your review, i think I am going to pick it up. I won't read your full review til i'm done. Sounds good.

BTW, I love your new design! Sorry if it's been awhile.

Adriana said...

I'm also interested in seeing the movie so I was thinking about reading the book first. I'll definitely get it now. It sounds fantastic.

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