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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (final thoughts)

March 30, 2011

From the publisher’s website:
Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.
Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Going in to Never Let Me Go I knew at least part of the secret of Hailsham and its students was, but I won’t spoil it for anyone here. I think not knowing would add a little more mystery to the whole story. However, if I hadn’t known the secret I probably wouldn’t have read the book. Weird how that works.

Knowing the secret, though, didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book. When I mentioned in my Monday post the other week that I was going to be reading Never Let Me Go next, I got a chorus of comments along the lines of “It’s so sad/depressing!”, which made me a little wary about starting it. When I did get around to starting, I was reading along thinking “this isn’t so sad,” but there’s a melancholic undertone to the whole book, and the sadness kind of snuck up on me.

I really liked Kathy and found her narration captivating. Usually, if a narrator jumps around a lot, it kind of drives me crazy. But Kathy’s sometimes meandering train of thought felt so natural, and she always brought the story back to where she initially intended. And I loved that Ishiguro didn’t provide all the facts of Hailsham and its students right up front, that they were effortlessly peppered throughout the book, brought up only when needed. I suddenly realized at the end that all the questions I had a the beginning had been answered without any heavy information dumps. It was all just about relationships and bittersweet memories and I loved it.

Before I started Never Let Me Go I had wanted to watch the movie right after I finished. Now I’m not sure I want to, the story was so wonderful just on its own. Have you seen the movie? Would you recommend it?

As for the book, I highly recommend it. It’s a fantastic look at where our society and science could very likely be heading. Even though it’s set in the ’90s.

Thanks to Erin for including Never Let Me Go in her Reading Buddies list, which got me reading it much sooner than I probably would have otherwise.

My rating: 8.5/10
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10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2011 10:52 am

    I loved this book, thought it was very clever that, like the teachers at Hailsham, Ishiguro makes you understand more than you realise about what’s going on, and then there isn’t a big revelation because you knew it all along. I never got to see the film, though as it was only on at the cinemas for a couple of weeks over here – I was very cross about that. Have to wait for the DVD now.

  2. March 30, 2011 11:41 am

    The movie put me into a one day depression…it was well done just depressing. I don’t think I can ever read the book now! Watch it, though! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

  3. March 30, 2011 1:11 pm

    Wow. You make it sound amazing.

  4. March 30, 2011 2:53 pm

    i’ve heard of this book before, but i didn’t really know what it was about and i had no idea there was a movie for it too. i definitely want to give it a try though.

  5. stacybuckeye permalink
    March 30, 2011 6:31 pm

    I was thinking about watching the movie but after reading your review I think I may need t o read the book first!

  6. March 31, 2011 1:29 pm

    I’ve been wanting to read this but I keep putting it off knowing that it’s depressing. I need to space depressing books out on the reading schedule. Glad to hear it’s worth it though.

  7. March 31, 2011 5:45 pm

    I liked it that the secret wasn’t the central thing in the book. Knowing it going in doesn’t make any difference to reading pleasure — well, it didn’t for me anyway. As for the movie, I wasn’t crazy about it. The actors were good, but the script hardly gave them anything to do. It was all voiceovers all the time! But don’t take my word for it, it’s a really good cast.

  8. March 31, 2011 6:08 pm

    I just wrote up my wrap-up post for this one earlier today, and half of it is about Kathy as the narrator, so I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on that part! I agree, she was perfect. One of the other things I talked about was how I felt at the end of the book: sad and melancholy, yes, but also a lot of other things. Thanks for reading this one with me! I hope you’ll come over and discuss tomorrow!

  9. April 1, 2011 5:21 pm

    I read When we were Orphans and while I liked the historical aspect, I found it confusing. The ending didn’t seem to wrap up very well. It put me off reading more from this author. Thanks for the review.
    Ann

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  1. Reading Buddies Wrap-Up: “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro | Erin Reads

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