605 of 635 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Set in the 1990's, Kazuo Ishiguro's quietly disturbing novel aims to make us question the ethics of science even though the author never directly raises the topic. The narrator of Never Let Me Go is Kathy H., a woman who introduces herself as a "carer" mere months away from becoming a "donor," as though we should know what these terms mean. This nearness to ending one stage of her life to entering another causes her to reminisce about Hailsham, the school in the English countryside where she grew up with her two closest friends, Tommy D. and Ruth. The three form an unlikely trio: Ruth is headstrong and imaginative; Tommy has an uncontrollable temper; and Kathy is steady and observant in the subtleties of human behavior. It is this last quality belonging to Kathy H. that sets the tone of the novel. Everything is precisely told in an even, matter-of-fact voice that never questions the strange terminology and conversations that alert the reader to something more grave lurking under what seems, on the surface, to be an ordinary story about three childhood friends. As the three grow up, they begin to face moments more important than the minor disagreements of childhood.
Ishiguro's richly textured description of the relationship among the three supplies all the details without confronting the larger issues. As Kathy tells us, the guardians at Hailsham both tell and not tell the students the truth about Hailsham and their lives--exactly what Ishiguro does to the reader. The truth is doled out in increments, over the course of the entire novel, requiring the reader to understand what is implied as much as what is told. The frightening side to all this is that the characters never question the course of their lives. No one runs, or questions why they are the ones to make the ultimate sacrifice. One of the most poignant moments comes near the end when Kathy says, "Why should we not have souls?" By this point, it has been apparent to the reader that Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth are human in every sense of the word, with talents and intelligence and foibles and complex emotions, and yet are regarded as both freaks and disposables by the "normals." For the reader, these characters are anything but expendable.
Ishiguro's literary style of examining small moments might disappoint readers who expect a strong plot. Although the premise may belong to science fiction, this novel is more concerned with characterization and theme. If you like writers in the tradition of Ian McEwan, Marilynne Robinson, Chang-Rae Lee, and Margaret Atwood (whose The Handmaid's Tale creates a different dystopia), you'll be immediately swept into this alternate world where the past is also the future.
904 of 986 people found the following review helpful
Kazuo Ishiguro's brilliant new book, NEVER LET ME GO, returns the author to the themes and approaches he first addressed in THE REMAINS OF THE DAY. Just as Stevens the butler devoted himself unthinkingly and uncritically to the minutiae of daily life on behalf of his Nazi sympathizing master, Lord Darlington, the main characters in Ishiguro's latest book focus on the irrelevant small details and minor tribulations of their lives without ever once contemplating the bigger picture. In both cases, the author not only conjures the question of the meaning of life, he asks us to contemplate the tragedy of wasted lives.
On its surface, NEVER LET ME GO tells the story of three special young people - Kathy H., Tommy D., and Ruth - all of whom meet as students at an idyllic private school called Hailsham. Kathy H. is the narrator, now 31 years old, telling her story in hindsight. She recalls her student days at Hailsham fondly, filling her tale with numerous minor anecdotes about the most mundane affairs that slowly reveal the nature of the school and its students' place in the world. (...) Ishiguro creates a convincing vocabulary, milieu, and mythology for this setting: guardians, carers, donors, completing, Exchanges, Sales, the Gallery, Norfolk, and an eerie sense of the students having "been told and not told."
NEVER LET ME GO accomplishes the remarkable challenge of presenting 288 pages' worth of reading between the lines. Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy are not the real main characters of this story, only the visible ones. The real main characters are invisible, the ones who have not only facilitated the use of cloning as a form of organ farming, but who have created a conditioning environment in which their victims accept their fate without question, as the natural order of things. Kathy, Ruth, Tommy, and their ilk live among normal people yet virtually never approach them, willing segretating themselves from the rest of society as though they were lepers. They live in Skinner boxes without boundaries, conditioned to believe they exist only to sacrifice their lives for the continued life of others. We never see the bioengineers or social scientists who create and maintain this horrifying use of humanity. Instead, they are represented (only on a limited scale) by Hailsham's headmistress, Miss Emily, and the mysterious, art-collecting Madame Marie-Claude.
In 1963, after attending the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Israel, the renowned Hannah Arendt wrote a profound and controversial book entitled EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM: THE BANALITY OF EVIL. Arendt went to the trial expecting to see a monster. Who else could be responsible for such evil as the Holocaust? Instead, she found an accounting clerk. Not only were the most normal of people apparently capable of mindless cruelty, but their evil was senseless, meaningless even to themselves. In this way, their evil was banal. Ishiguro creates a similar feeling, using the triteness of Kathy H.'s reminiscences and Miss Lucy's behaviors and rationalizations to illustrate the banality of their own peculiar form of evil: science practiced for its own sake, without the application of moral standards. NEVER LET ME GO is neither preachily anti-science nor moralistically pro-religion. It is simply a call to include our consciences in the application of science. Perhaps the fact that the first identified character in the book to speak other than Kathy and Ruth is a student named Hannah (who never appears again in the text) is Ishiguro's way of telling us to beware the dangers of banality, that sliding over the edge from ordinariness to "Ruth-less" evil is easier than we think.
I puzzled for a while over the setting - England in the 1990's - until I realized that the first sheep clone, Dolly, was created in England in 1996 and died prematurely a few years later. In a sense, all of Hailsham's students are sheep, raised in out-of-the-way rural settings, separated from society and isolated from knowledge of both the practical world and the world of ideas, limited in their human interactions except with one another, and, of course, bred to be consumed (for their vital organs). On several occasions, I was reminded of the cowlike creature in Doug Adams's RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE who greets diners by declaiming the tasty virtues of his best parts and declares: "..it was eventually decided to ... breed an animal that actually wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly. And here I am." Adams presented his creature for comic effect; Ishiguro presents his "poor creatures" (as Madame repeatedly calls them) for a low key but nightmarish effect.
NEVER LET ME GO is a transcendent novel, an astonishingly powerful work of literature. The pace is slow and the details seem trivial, but patient readers will be rewarded for their efforts with a thought-provoking exposition on whose life is worth living and who, if anyone, has the right to set the terms and conditions. Arendt contemplated the banality of evil - Ishiguro warns us of the evils that lurk behind banality.
353 of 393 people found the following review helpful
WARNING: This review contains "spoilers," information that reveals key plot details.
This novel works beautifully on multiple levels, giving it a quality that kept me thinking about its plot, characters and themes long after I finished its final page. On the most obvious level it is a sort of alternate history that depicts a dystopian society in 1990s England that breeds human clones to become organ donors for "the normals." In that aspect, it brings to mind Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, where humans are created in test tubes and have fixed functions that they grow up to perform in society.
However, Never Let Me Go is more subtle than either Huxley or -- another obvious comparison -- George Orwell's 1984, in that the oppressor is not specifically depicted and there is no one person or group that is in obvious conflict with Ishiguro's main characters. There is nothing overt that keeps them in their places, whether that place is at school when they are children, or at "recovery centers" while their internal organs are being systematically plucked out. I kept wondering why the two lovers, Kathy and Tommy, didn't just pick up their stuff, get in her car and take off for parts unknown, eventually blending in with the "normal" population.
And that brings me to the next, deeper level, of the novel, which is about the nature of humanity. All of this novel's characters seem to meekly accept their fates, even Tommy, who has a temper and often throws fits of rage when frustrated. They are also hyper-sensitive to one another, reading motivations and emotions into each small gesture and remark, as though every utterance and movement each one makes is deliberate, premeditated and loaded with significance. To me, human behavior is much less reasoned than that, with much said and done that has no rational basis. (Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.)
In that regard, perhaps the clones (euphemistically called "students" in the novel) really are not human beings with souls, but beings bred for a specific function, which strong emotions tend to derail. If that is the case, perhaps the students' creators bred human emotion out of them in order to facilitate their end purpose. Most "normals" seem to view the "students" as sub-human, which is of course necessary if the "students'" organs are to be harvested in good conscience. This brings to mind a host of justifications for deplorable acts and practices throughout human history, from slavery to the contemporary killing of the Great Apes.
Ishiguro reveals to his readers that the students' adult "guardians" believe they are human beings with souls, and the "guardians" spend a great deal of time and effort trying to prove this to the other "normals." This takes us to yet another, deeper question posed by the story: Can members of a privleged class save those who are less so, or must the oppressed save themselves?
The actions that the "guardians" take on behalf of their "students" do not change the ultimate fate of the latter. They do, however, change the conditions in which the "students" are reared. So, in the end, the main "student" characters are well-read, cultured and, as children, had more creature comforts than many of their peers. But they also have false hope that some outside force may "defer" their fates, and in the end those dashed hopes may be more painful to endure than if they never had hope at all.
Essentially, the "guardians" are reformers of the Jane Addams type, who move in with the oppressed and try to help them. But the final outcome is not changed, and one is left wondering about the validity of a reform movement in the first place. Perhaps the only real way to make institutional change of the magnitude required in this novel's world is for the "students" to embrace their true identity as clones and start focusing on how to stay alive.
Ishiguro does not offer opinions on any of these issues, rather presents the questions in powerfully compelling ways that make us stop and think about our assumptions and the way the tasks of daily life tend to distract us from considering deeper issues.
While it's always true that a great novel will mean different things to each person who reads it, I believe that this is particularly the case with Never Let Me Go. There is so much thought-provoking stuff packed inside this relatively short novel that its title becomes prophetic -- you won't stop thinking about it for a long while.
68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2005
(Written by countezero for Worm's Sci Fi Haven, you can see more of his reviews here: [...])
Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go did not win Britain's prestigious Booker prize this year, an honor the author claimed in 1989 for The Remains of the Day, but I suspect people will read this novel-a sublime and haunting account of innocence, injustice and social deconstruction-long after John Banville's The Sea, which did win, disappears from the collective social conscious.
To peak everyone's interest and to keep them from pulling their hair out, I'll come right to the point, which, as Sarah Kerr noted in her New York Times review, is impossible for a critic to dance around anyway. Never Let Me Go is about human cloning. More specifically, it is about a group of cloned children growing up in an English boarding school, where the truth about their biology is both the cause and effect of some very strange happenings, which ultimately make for one of the best contemporary novels I have read, a book that should not be overlooked and cannot be ignored.
Ishiguro, a student of Freud, likes to employ subtle psychology in his work. He likes his narrators too damaged to ever truly reveal themselves. What the reader learns, he or she learns mostly through the information the narrator chooses to withhold about their pasts and through the plainness of their reactions to the present. In this regard, Never Let Me Go is more of the same, in that what is most essential to novel's plot is barely mentioned, or concretely addressed. "Few writers dare to say so little of what they mean," wrote one critic, describing Ishiguro's style of approach. Because of this, any lengthy description of the novel's thorny arc of action would dull its effect for first-time readers.
What can safely be said is that Ishiguro, who is also a student of the English novel, knows all to well that the patches of literary ground where science and morality clash have always been arenas of brutal and bloody contests, with neither side interested in armistice. From Bacon's New Atlantis to Shelley's Frankenstein and Huxley's Brave New World, the tradition of tackling tough social issues through speculative fiction has always been a favorite pastime of English writers with highly refined sensibilities. I cannot imagine that Ishiguro doesn't understand the traditions he has inserted himself among by writing a boarding-school novel about the politics of scientific advancement. He knows exactly what he's doing. He's provoking us. And, for the most part, it works.
Told from the backward perspective of Kathy H, who is 31-years old when the story begins, we learn about the young lives of Tommy and Ruth, who are her two best friends, and the lives of all the children at a special school called Hailsham-a wonderful Dickensian name whose sinister perfection can only be fully understood at the novel's end. Most of the early-going is typical. Social cliques form, loyalties are established and tested, a juvenile form of sexuality begins to bloom-all of which is handled very skillfully by Ishiguro, whose powers of perception and whose ability to capture the reality of human interaction have never been more functional. Add to this picture a host of inklings, of hints and whispers, and you'll begin to understand how wonderfully terrifying and brutally banal the core of this novel is. The children have questions that aren't answered, certain subjects that are off-limits. They notice nobody ever leaves the grounds, that some people don't seem to know how to act around them and that everyone who is not a student seems to have access to a universal truth being kept from them. They notice all of this and they explain it all away.
For the reader, whose suspicion is apt to grow after a few chapters, the answers the children come up with don't satisfy. Are the teachers sheltering the children from harm, or are they fooling them before the slaughter? The answer is not a simple one. Some of the teachers burst into tears and leave the school under painful circumstances after they are apparently unable to continue working among the children. Others, who at first seem cold proponents of the children's dark fate, which is continually teased and hinted at but not immediately revealed, later turn out to be some of the strongest advocates for them.
And what of Kathy and the other cloned children? Are they sheep, or are they sheep with souls? Even most the teachers who've lived and worked among them are incapable of going beyond this either/or examination of the children, and because of this, there is no reckoning at the novel's end. There is only twisted discovery and gradual acceptance. This is one of Ishiguro's most brilliant tricks. He parcels out information to the reader at the same pace he does the children. The result is by the time we have the whole picture straight in our heads it is no where near as shocking as it initially would have been. Just as the children have done, we become accustomed to it (even Kathy, the novel's unreliable narrator, is incapable of judging the circumstances of her undoing and assigning any morality to it). So the epiphany, when it finally comes, fails to engineer any discernible effects on the plot or the characters at all. And in many ways, this is the novel's most sobering and realistic assertion. People, more often times than not, fail to act or act ineffectively. Dénouement is a slippery French word that describes the culmination of a fabricated plot; it does not describe or represent reality. Part of Ishiguro's genius is his ability to realize this and codify it as art, just as he does in the very last conversation Tommy has with Kathy, when it's made clear they both know more than they let on about the reality of their existence, but neither are capable or prepared to do anything about it.
"I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast," Tommy says. "And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding as hard as they can, but in the end it's just too much. The current's too strong. They've got to let go, drift apart. (They want to stay forever)...but in the end, we can't stay forever."
Thus, the novel ends the way it was always going to end-with a stoic resignation that hauntingly recalls the bleak sort of acceptance victims of the Holocaust exhibited as they stood patiently in line waiting to be gassed.
Or as another reviewer, quoting a snatch of some Schopenhauer, put it: "In our early youth we sit before the life that lies ahead of us like children sitting before the curtain in a theatre, in happy and tense anticipation of whatever is going to appear. Luckily we do not know what really will appear."
The horror of Never Let Me Go is that the children of Hailsham know almost exactly what lies beyond the curtain and they continue to look and participate in the pageantry of life anyway. How human of them.
Five out of five
105 of 117 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2005
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Caveat: there are small spoilers ahead, though fewer than in the Publsher's Weekly review that Amazon provides.
I really wanted to like this book a lot, and it certainly is not without its virtues. The way Ishiguro sustains the voice of the narrator over the course of the story is impressive; Kathy's voice is every bit as distinctive as Stevens' in The Remains of the Day and yet quite unlike it. The book also deals with worthy themes, not least the way we might come to take for granted something utterly shocking and repulsive. One reviewer asked why none of the characters tried to run away. My response is that the reader wishes they might, but the point of the novel is that the characters have been lulled into a sense that their lot in life is inevitable; they have their place and the most they could hope for (a hope that plays out in the final pages) is that there might be a brief respite from what must come.
More below on the psychological plausibility of that premise. My disappointment had to do with what sits in the background. The novel, after all, is set in contemporary England -- or, at least, a version of contemporary England that's supposed to be within a reasonable imaginative distance of the world as it actually is. Perhaps the scheme on which the novel is built could actually emerge from the real attitudes of contemporary Western Europe. The way we are to assume most people view Kathy and her fellow "students" is not unlike the kind of racism that's still far too common in supposedly civilized Europe. But even that sort of reflexive racism seldom goes so far as to call into question whether the "other" has a soul and, the most vicious aside, most Western racists would still be horrified by the use to which the "students" are put. It's true; we are within living memory of the Holocaust. But it's also true that because of those very memories, the Western world, at least, is a different place. Moreover, even though most of us have deep reservations about cloning, it's not because we think that cloned humans would be any less than human. On the contrary, our reservations are partly because it's so clear that these beings _would_ be humans -- just like us.
Or so one might think. In order to make the case that this isn't so, and that the England he imagines is within imaginative reach, Ishiguro would have had to tell us a lot more than he does about how his dystopia came about. What we get, instead, is a hasty and almost perfunctory account in the final pages that feels unconvincing and blunts the emotional force of the novel's ending.
That said, there's a coda that honesty compels me to add. When I finished the book, I felt much less moved than I thought I was meant to. But in spite of the clumsiness of the backstory, I woke up the next morning with a real sense of unease. It was not that I was ready to grant the plausibility of the backstory. It was that I could imagine all too easily that the characters might really have been manipulated into accepting the utterly unacceptable lot that they have been handed, however implausible that lot may be. These characters may not be intrinsically less soulless than the rest of us, but we can imagine them being robbed of a piece of their souls -- not by the circumstances of their births but by how they've been schooled to see themselves.
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2007
(a mild spoiler ahead, nothing too bad...i bet all of you know it anyway)
I had recently finished Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, and having come away deeply impressed and moved by the book, was glancing through his other offerings on amazon, trying to decide which of his novels to tackle next. When I read about Never Let Me Go and saw the wildly polarized reviews, I knew I had to read the book; something from an author I respect that inspired such emotion couldn't be bad, I thought. I was right.
A quick plot summary: Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy are students at an isolated boarding school called Hailsham. They have no parents or last names or any connection with the outside world, all they have is one another. Over the years, the three characters become more and more entwined through ties of friendship and, as they grow older, love. After they graduate, they begin to realize their special fate, why they were raised at this isolated school, and it is this heartbreaking realization that colors the rest of their short time together. The entire story is told by Kathy poignantly looking back on it all. Quintessential Ishiguro.
FIrst, I must say that I am baffled at all the negative reviews of this book. What did you expect when you picked it up? Some sort of Blade Runner-esque thriller? I think perhaps readers were drawn in by the "science fiction" premise, and expected something totally different than what Ishiguro provides. This book is not about cloning or its ethical ramifications, although I guess some of this is inevitably present. I believe Ishiguro only frames the story with these quietly horrific issues in order to put a magnifying glass to the lesser ways we are all guilty of the same thing that Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth are: passivity.
The book is a beautiful meditation on the idea that in some way or the other most of us don't go after what's really important in the time that's given us - true love, that American Dream, our dream profession, whatever we value most - and how our own self-delusion makes breaking free and pursuing our own happiness so damn hard. It's not beautiful in a conventional way - you won't find any stunning turns of phrase or verbal pyrotechnics - but that's not Ishiguro's style. Rather, on a larger scale, every scene is perfectly fitted with the next, every tidbit revealed about the character's lives absolutely essential, every memory blurred with exactly the right amount of doubt, so that the entire novel shimmers with the gleam of complete truth.
While Never Let Me Go is not a page turner in the traditional sense, I, for one, could not put it down and I finished it in a day and a half. If any of the subject matter I discussed above interests you in the least, you won't be able to put it down either and I will bet that in the days following, your thoughts will also be haunted about how much your life might be like those of the students at Hailsham, about the paths you haven't taken in your own life. Highly, highly recommended.
49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2006
I've read most of the reviews here. I've found this book troubling in many ways, and months after I read it, I just had to comment for others. The amazing insight I got from Ishiguro's book was that these clones are much like all of us--always ready to move on, even when we know that what we're moving toward is awful.
Several people have commented that they wanted Kathy to escape her fate, and were profoundly disturbed that this never occurred to her as she meekly marched toward her destiny. I think this is a realistic observation of the human condition, and after reading the book, I began finding myself noticing that all people seem to move through all the rites of passage in their lives with eagerness, just as Kathy and her peers did. In fact, Kathy, like all of us, is always impatient to get to the next milestone, even as this movement brings her inexorably toward pain and death. Why would we be surprised by this intensely human reaction?
The story didn't feel like science fiction, nor like a reprise of other clone books written in the past several decades. It felt like a very normal coming-of-age story about humans who just happened to be clones, callously created to rescue others. So, I was never shocked, nor did I want them to escape. It was only upon finishing the book that I was bowled over by the matter-of-fact approach, and that is why it continues to move me months later.
54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The title of my review is taken from the Guardian's review of Never Let Me Go. It just seemed much more appropriate way to describe Ishiguro then anything that I could think of to say.
This novel is a delicate and complicated thing. On the surface, it appears predictable, and the cloning plot hackneyed. What world would support that kind of treatment of people? How does the science of the donations work? But, if you give the book a chance to do its work, you realize after all that the plot doesn't really matter. The alternative world and all the science in it is just a trope to explore a notion of response to striving, destiny and ultimately, resignation.
Even though this book is nominally science fiction, please do not focus too much on that aspect of the plot. If you do, you are going to keep hoping for a kind of resolution that Ishiguro never intends to deliver. The main character is nearly perfectly passive. Her lover, Tommy, is more rebellious. However, he never manages to use that rebellion or its energy in a focus or directed way. A lot like life, in other words, rather than a lot like genre fiction.
If you're tempted to be put off by the idea of science fiction, think again. Never Let Me Go should appeal to people who prefer the most delicate of literary novels. Once again, I'm deeply impressed by Ishiguro's feel for craft. Just lovely.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2006
I have to confess, I read this book because of its cover. It was my first Ishiguro--it won't be my last. Kudos to Lieutenant Colonel O'Gorman's stunning cover photo, `Christina.' The image of the young lady with the Rapunzel locks colored my reading all the way through the book. She was so human--I immediately associated her with Kathy H. And she had mystery--what in the hell was she staring at? Her pose connotes aloneness, an effect enhanced by O'Gorman's use of what I'm guessing was a very long telephoto.
Ishiguro's tale lived up to its cover. He is a master of subtext and indirection, takes his time dribbling out plot details--he's like Margaret Atwood that way--you're on page one hundred or so before you're really sure what fate is awaiting the characters. His most evasive technique of camouflaging the plot is the jargon used by the students at Halisham--`carers,' `the fourth turning.' The students use these words like everyone should know them while the poor reader is left to decipher their meaning through context.
Once their fate became clear to me, I went through a phase where I thought surely they would be rescued. Escape would have been so easy--they weren't under lock and key. And then I began to realize that none of them ever intended to escape--the notion was foreign to them. They were all resigned to the fourth turning. And that made me angry. They had by then so impressed me with their humanity, I saw their destiny as premeditated murder. I kept thinking of Dylan Thomas' famous closer: "Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light." I found it incongruous that the students should be able to go gentle into that good night, albeit one body part at a time. Why didn't they rage, rage as I would have done? Weren't they just like you and me? And I believe that was Ishiguro's point all along.
--Ejner Fulsang, author of "A Destiny of Fools," Aarhus Publishing
191 of 224 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2006
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
As with Margaret Atwood's "Hand Maid's Tale", "Never Let Me Go" begins like a contemporary mainstream novel. It takes awhile for the reader to realize that the world described is not the "real world".
Gradually, you catch on to the differences and learn the rules of this world, as the characters themselves learn. The mis-direction starts on the page before the first chapter, where Ishiguro indicates that the scene is "England, late 1990s". Everything is plausible. No scifi technology would be needed to have led to this alternate world. No major cataclysmic change. Just a subtle change of direction -- quite natural, quite credible, and hence foreshadowing a dismal future we may yet encounter.
From the first page, you feel that something is just a little bit off. Even the typeface is disconcerting, with a lowercase "a" that looks more like a handwritten "a" (an "o" with a tail coming off to the right), instead of the usual printed "a", as here).
You also quickly notice that the narrator is a bit obsessive and oversensitive, over-interpreting every look and gesture and event. And by keeping this up, over the course of the book, the author manages to completely redefine the basis of communication and the texture of life, including how to rad body language and context. Ishiguor gives an otherwodly aura to ordinary situations. You sense that there is always a mystery-to-be-solved behind what is happening, what is described, what is interpreted. Oridinay terms are used in extraordinary ways (cf. 1984, but far more subtle) -- carer, donor, possible, guardian, deferral become laden with new and sinister meanings, hinting at the difference between these people and ordinary people, between their world and ours.
What we wind up with is a bizarre coming-of-age love story, combining innocence and horror, in a situation where the simplest everyday events and decisions take on heroic implications.
This is one of the best novels published in the last 100 years. Don't miss it.