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Never Let Me Go Paperback – March 14, 2006
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This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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All children should believe they are special. But the students of Hailsham, an elite school in the English countryside, are so special that visitors shun them, and only by rumor and the occasional fleeting remark by a teacher do they discover their unconventional origins and strange destiny. Kazuo Ishiguro's sixth novel, Never Let Me Go, is a masterpiece of indirection. Like the students of Hailsham, readers are "told but not told" what is going on and should be allowed to discover the secrets of Hailsham and the truth about these children on their own.
Offsetting the bizarreness of these revelations is the placid, measured voice of the narrator, Kathy H., a 31-year-old Hailsham alumna who, at the close of the 1990s, is consciously ending one phase of her life and beginning another. She is in a reflective mood, and recounts not only her childhood memories, but her quest in adulthood to find out more about Hailsham and the idealistic women who ran it. Although often poignant, Kathy's matter-of-fact narration blunts the sharper emotional effects you might expect in a novel that deals with illness, self-sacrifice, and the severe restriction of personal freedoms. As in Ishiguro's best-known work, The Remains of the Day, only after closing the book do you absorb the magnitude of what his characters endure. --Regina Marler --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School–The elegance of Ishiguro's prose and the pitch-perfect voice of his narrator conspire to usher readers convincingly into the remembered world of Hailsham, a British boarding school for special students. The reminiscence is told from the point of view of Kathy H., now 31, whose evocation of the sheltered estate's sunlit rolling hills, guardians, dormitories, and sports pavilions is imbued with undercurrents of muted tension and foreboding that presage a darker reality. As an adult, Kathy re-engages in lapsed friendships with classmates Ruth and Tommy, examining the details of their shared youth and revisiting with growing awareness the clues and anecdotal evidence apparent to them even as youngsters that they were different from everyone outside. [...] Ishiguro conveys with exquisite sensitivity the emotional texture of the threesome's relationship, their bonds of personal loyalty that overcome fractures of trust, the palpable boundaries of hope, and the human capacity for forgiveness. Highly recommended for literary merit and as an exceptional platform for the discussion of a controversial topic.–Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
That said, I found the tone of the book, reading it instead of listening to it, quite somber. Slightly depressing. But still engrossing. (I purchased this for my Kindle recently, so I'm reading it again as opposed to listening to the audio version, and it seems more bleak).
In short, I feel it is well written, there is a little bit of suspense, and well-developed characters that keep the unusual book going at a decent pace. There are a lot of allusions, because the main character is often talking about the past, so she doesn't quite remember everything exactly and doesn't quite know what to make of things because she sees things differently as she matures. It's interesting to read her thought processes.
But I am very impressed by how well the story is laid out. I truly appreciate the delicate manner in which the overall theme of the book is presented to the reader. I think that this book is a triumph in the tug-of-war that is adolescence and how much we are able to see through the eyes of the author.
Movie aside, here's what the book does well: the first thing to notice is the voice of the narrator Kathy. They actually capture her kind of sedate, placid narration well in the movie too but her round about narration of the events invites you to join her ranks as someone who is "told but not told," although since you're the reader you are the whole time wondering what the mystery is. In contrast, the characters of the book don't wonder so much about the mystery of their lives so much as the question of whether or not they're able to just delay their doom.
Unlike many dystopian stories that invite us to compare the main injustice of the society with injustices occurring in our current society, the emphasis on this book seems to be the reaction of the clones in this book to their destinies. What I mean is that normally in a dystopian story the thing that makes it dystopian, the idea of cloning someone and taking their organs, or the idea of editing people's use of language (1984), is the main point of the book, telling us we should look in our own society for places of exploitation of some small group of people for the benefit of the majority, or for censure, etc. I didn't get that from this book at all, which surprised my expectations of the dystopian genre. It seemed like the clone thing was thematically irrelevant and distracting, a red herring for the main point, which is that people miss out on chances to love, and there's always a sense of loss, especially lost time, lost love, and people hope to just delay that loss but they don't fight its inevitability. Ruth was excellently drawn and her land-mine filled dialogues with everyone revealed Ishiguro's understanding of the subtly mean, jealous aspects of human nature. The portrayal of Tommy was confusing and weird. He seemed like an autistic, unknowable ghost until Garfield brought him to life in the movie. I get the sense that Ishiguro is obsessed with the idea of love that is lost for no good reason, because people are too weak or fearful or docile to go for it, that Tommy as a character made so little sense because Ishiguro didn't really have a concrete object in mind for his lost love, just the idea that it was missing. In the movie they include a scene where Tommy begins to scream and I think this makes a lot of sense in terms of finally acknowledging the injustice of the clone thing but this whole closure is absent from the book. Anyway I'd recommend the book for anyone who wants to keep on top of what's hot in literature these days.
This book is fantastic. It can be interpreted in many different ways, but in my opinion it is a story about coming to terms with your life and your own mortality. It is NOT a sci-fi book in the usual sense of the genre. It is also NOT a book strictly about the ethics of cloning. Many negative reviewers seemed to be looking for a book exclusively about those themes, but really they just set the background for the novel. It is a story about love, heartbreak, coming of age, and coming to terms with the limits of our own life. If you just want a sci-fi book about futuristic cloning scenarios you will be disappointed.
Overall, the story is done well. Did I feel like I chewed through it and wanted more? Not really.