What We’re Reading: Never Let Me Go

| January 13, 2012

I just finished reading Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. It is difficult to write about the novel without giving away some critical parts of the work.  So, I will simply comment on the characters, writing, and “feel” of the book.

The novel begins in Hailsham (a “boarding school”) in rural England. The students all have one thing in common — they are to be used for a special purpose in society. All of them are aware of the purpose, but none quite understand exactly what this purpose entails until each student volunteers or is “called upon” for his/her contribution. Unfortunately, the “purpose” is not apparent to the reader until the close of Part I of the book. The author references this purpose on numerous occasions. Rather than being mysterious, it becomes drawn out and annoying.

The students of Hailsham are taught and overseen by “Guardians”, who act as teachers and pseudo-parents. The Guardians ensure the health and safety of students and encourage creativity. Only at the close of the book do you realize why creativity is so stressed. After Hailsham, students are sent to the “Cottages” (a farm-like setting in the country) at approximately 16-years-old to work on term papers, relax, read, and await their fate. They are given the freedom to learn how to drive, take lovers, and travel a bit while there. When ready, each adolescent begins their journey in the “real” world.

The main characters are Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy.  Kathy is perceptive — she is one of the few people who realizes Ruth’s dishonesty is a means to fit in and make it seem as if she has some control over her own future. Ruth is a popular, vindictive liar who manages to take Tommy as a lover for a few years. Tommy doesn’t quite fit in with the majority of Hailsham students. He is naive, has anger issues and is in love with Kathy, the one person who seems to understand him.

Tommy and Ruth eventually part after a huge fight that involves Kathy. After some time, Kathy and Tommy become lovers. They attempt to change the course of their futures toward the end of the novel, but soon realize their efforts are futile because their lives have been set out for them from the beginning. In the end, Kathy must let Tommy go because of their different paths in life.

The writing is a bit bland. The story is pretty slow-moving, but realistic. The feel is often mysterious, sad, and sometimes awkward. If you are into slightly boring, odd, but realistic works with tons of hidden meaning, this book is for you. If you would like to borrow the book from our collection, it is located on the second floor. The information is below:

Title: Never Let Me Go

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro

Publisher: Knopf, 2005

Call #: JUV PR 6059.S5 N48 2005