This is a very thought-provoking book. It raises a lot of questions about human nature and morality. It is also a very sad tale about people, ultimately. It's a must read.
This seems like an amazing classic to me. Although it has a cloak of sci-fi or horror, I think that it is actually about our lives, which do have their horrible sides -- we are all on the way to dying, after all, and we are the caretakers of each other. But this gives such a crystal clear vision of an alternate reality that it is difficult to realize that we are simply looking at our own world with a few details altered. The reader is immaculate, the sound quality is great, the language is impeccable. This makes a very interesting contrast with other books by the same author, such as Remains of the Day and the Unconsolable. Ishiguro must be one of the greatest living authors. I would not want this reading to be one syllable shorter.
So well written and narrated. Interesting, too - in the beginning before you learn who these people are and what fate is about to befall them. Although I won't spoil the essence of the story - it creeped me out. Although I love to be swept up in a fantasy story - this was not a fantasy that I wanted to be a part of.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Kathy is a pupil at a special boarding school called Hailsham, which trains its students to be "donors" and "carers". Though Kathy describes her work and education in casually vague terms, it quickly becomes clear that there's a more troubling purpose to it. However, Ishiguro shies away from explaining or examining the real issue directly (at least until the end), instead conveying the story's emotional tone through Kathy's reflections on small details of her life and her relationship with two close friends from Hailsham, especially as their roles approach a final decision point.
There's certainly some resonance to Ishiguro's understated approach to his story, but I found it a little too glancing. Once it was clear to me why Hailsham existed, which happened about a third of the way into the book, I wanted more directness. How could this have happened in post-World War II Britain? And why would the characters, who seem to be intellectually and emotionally normal people, and aren't too restricted in their adult lives, accept their lots so passively, rather than, say, running off to Mexico? To me, there were a few too many logical questions that Ishiguro didn't adequately address, and the main characters' relationships, though they are drawn with a poignant mix of adult and juvenile behavior, didn't have enough going on to carry the heavy moral questions that the book poses. I had trouble taking the premise seriously without knowing more about the political realities of the novel's world. All in all, though the writing is good and there is some power in a scene towards the end, I found this one to be a bit of a disappointment as a whole.
I thought this was a lovely listen. Great narrator and the story is beautifully written. As others have commented, the story is not a mystery, and isn't written as such. Haunting.
The monotone voice of the narrator lends itself to this story of longing and self discovery. The heroine finds herself in a place that is mysterious (for us) and poignant. To find that your life is not your own, and your "self" is unimportant -
The premise for the story is good but it is just so long and tedious so that the book is anticlimactic and a letdown. It is a glimpse of a future society that makes one wonder if we are on the slippery slope (similar, as I recall to "1984" when I read it 35 years ago). But the characters are maddening since they seem intelligent and bold but it never occurs to them to question authority. Although I understand the topic is serious in nature, couldn't there have been even one amusing anecdote in the nearly 10-hour story? The book is worthwhile if you like to ponder or discuss our society and the direction it could be taking, but its not an entertaining "read."
I really liked the premise of this book but didn't feel like it went anywhere. Although it's billed as a "mystery" that "mystery" becomes pretty obvious after the first few chapters. What I found most bothersome is that once the "mystery" is revealed, there is no revolt or outrage, only a quiet resolve and annoying complacency on the part of the main characters. I found that really hard to stomach, especially for a novel that centers around such young protagonists. In most science fiction stories of this nature there is an event that throws the whole system off-kilter, then causing the main characters to question everything and rebuild society. This doesn't happen here and I just keep thinking: why does no one care? It's an intersting read, but not a great one. Other novels do a better job with character development in the face of conflict, and the issues facing future societies.
I almost didn't download this selection seeing that some of the reviewers felt it was for a younger audience but I am glad that I did. For one thing, Ishiguro is a master of human emotion and interaction, he captures that perfectly. For another, Ishiguro has chosen a surprisingly modern and deep topic with important parallels to life today. This book was heartfelt, nostalgic, thoughtful, scientific, and intellectual. I thoroughly enjoyed it and strongly recommend it!
Caution: This review reveals nothing that would spoil your relish at discovering this book.
At the intersection of science, society and identity, lives can only be seen as through a frosted window alternately revealing glimpses of light, hazy figures and, finally, a frightening opacity. Few of us, or our favorite writers, can see the dangers and the possibilities at this intersection. Kazuo Ishiguro can and shares his view with simplicity and grace.
Hailshum, a school for special children, reveals its nature and purpose slowly and always through the eyes of several of its don...uh...students. Cathy, Ruth, and Tommy are friends of a sort who, like all friends, play and fight and spar and love with each other in their years at Hailshum and later. Ishiguro shows them to us with all their charms, their weaknesses and their ugly parts. In this, he shows us their deep, confused, scarred humanness; he shows us the humanness they share with us.
Cathy, Ruth and Tommy live at that intersection, the intersection of science, society and identity, living with bumpy stoicism the lives science prepared them for. Society has decided it needs them, it seems, and they need each other to find meaning and love in their neglected circumstances. They, like we in ours, find some.
Ishiguro tells us their tragic and ordinary story with the gentleness that distinguishes his work. Let no one tell you otherwise; this book is masterful.