I don't know why this narration is introduced as an Audible Kids production, I don't believe that it is actually written for juveniles. Perhaps other listeners have also been disappointed because of the mention of the story as being a mystery; it really isn't. The story is sort of sci-fi, a parallel modern world with a big medical ethics question. The bizarre condition of the characters' lives unfolds throughout the novel. It's definitely not exciting in an action/mystery sense, it's more of an intense character examination under these unusual circumstances. Heartbreaking and thought-provoking. Definitely one of the best books I've ever "read". Also wonderfully narrated.
Don't do it! Save your credit! The book was as monotonous as the voice of the narrator. A very tedious listen with no highlights-totally BLAH!
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.
I certainly don't see what all the hype is about. There's no mystery here; I could figure out what was going on from the first pages. The characters were insipid and unrealistic and their adolescent antics and whinings drove me nuts. As far as some "message" about medical ethics and human nature, it's all been done before (Coma, Soylent Green, Brazil, etc.). The reader was OK, but sometimes her slushiness got to me. (I think she'd the one who does that Hemingway Collection furniture ad.) Use your credit on something worthwhile.
Many reviews praise the gradual (I would say tedious) building of tension, and the tap-dancing around the reveal of the book's central mystery (I would say slight clarification of a situation that is obvious from the first paragraph).
The book is so deeply unsatisfying as an attempt at world-building--little to no description, no consideration of the societal implications of its central mystery, no interest in the world outside the heads of the three main characters--that I'm forced to conclude that Kazuo Ishiguro wasn't attempting to build a world at all.
Instead, he meditates obscurely on what it means to know how and when you might die, and how the large certainties of life trap us all. I can imagine a different treatment where Never Let Me Go succeeds as a short metaphorical story about terminal illness, but as a novel, the entire mass of excruciating first person narration and flaccid, imbecilic characters just lays there grimly--at its most energetic teasing only slight unease and depression from the reader.
I'm not trying for hyperbole here--almost the entirety of the book consists of the dialogue or reminisces of an incurious, not particularly penetrating, and in one case (Tommy) blandly unintelligent, group of teenagers. If that sounds like a good read/listen to you, then go ahead by all means.
In my opinion, most reviewers giving Never Let Me Go high marks are reviewing their own ability to do the work Ishiguro declines, embellishing the flat spots of this world with their own imaginations, and adding depth where it doesn't exist. It's almost as though by presenting a work that's entirely uninteresting for its plot, characters, or style, Ishiguro has convinced people that he has something deeply meaningful to say about the nature of existence. Maybe he does, but put me in the minority that wishes he'd found a more compelling way to say it.
Better writing. Interesting characters. A plot. A plot would have been nice, I think. Yes, I'm pretty sure a plot would have improved things.
I haven't made up my mind yet, but I assure you it will never be anything written by Kazuo Ishiguro, ever again. This book was truly mind numbing rubbish.
The narrator was fine.
Dishonor! Dishonor on Kazuo Ishiguro's whole family! Dishonor on Kazuo Ishiguro! Dishonor on his cow! Dishonor on everyone associated with this door stop of a book.
I now have absolutely no empathy for clones. If I ran into a clone today, I'd vivisect it with a pair of cuticle scissors while whispering "complements of Kazuo Ishiguro". It could just be my dislike for this book talking but, this book was profoundly, exquisitely, gloriously, boringly, bad.
I would not necessarily seek one out, but I would not be opposed to hearing her once again. However, the distinctions between her female character voices were at times difficult to discern, and, her ability to present the male character did not always work well.
Frustration by the story line. Frustration by the monotonous tone.
Based on several other comments saying that the book had some slow portions but it was well worth the wait, I stayed with it after many temptations to cease my listening. I kept saying to myself
While it wasn't as awful as "Wicked," I really hated this book. Nothing about it made sense. And it sure as heck was no "heartstopping mystery." If you don't figure out the "mystery" very quickly, you lack imagination. The actual mystery is why it has gotten good reviews at all. The premise was simple nonsense (spoilers follow; you've been warned.)
We are asked to accept a modern Great Britain wherein children are cloned and raised to serve as organ donors for others until they "complete" (die.) The main characters in this story are raised at Hailsham, a school for these children where they are more or less educated. There is no attempt on the part of Ishiguro to even try to make this believable. He just presents it and assumes it's acceptable as a plot.
I simply could not, however, get past the ridiculous premise that such a system could not only develop in modern Britain, but would exist without a hint of protest by anyone, including the people who are its victims! They are the wimpiest, most simpering characters I have ever encountered. They simply accept this fate without any protest. Nobody runs away. No one gets mad. They just comply. The best they could muster was a faint hope that they could delay their fate slightly. But when that fails it's, "oh well."
Their characterization wasn't helped by the particularly flat and emotionless affectation the reader adopted. Perhaps it was intended to be read that way, but it only left me more annoyed with this impossible premise than I might have been had I read it myself.
I really loved "Remains of the Day" but this just doesn't work on any level.
Listened to this one 3 times in a row because I liked it so much. The female reader is a perfect fit. Easily the best book I've listened to this year. Can't recommend it enough.
I'll try not to reveal too much. This story centers on a group of adolescents and young adults conceived and raised separately to provide a "benefit" to modern English society at large. They live at a separate boarding school whose purpose is to cultivate them and protect them for this function. Ishiguro creates a world that is for the most part quite believable. It includes the daily activities, inner thoughts, dreams, and tragedies of these young people, as well as some of the conflicts felt by their guardians. From some of the other reviews, I guess this novel is not for everyone. I found it engaging, thought-provoking, suspenseful, and compassionate. The questions raised for me by this story are "What if a modern society conspired to use people this way? What is the value of a human soul?" Uncomfortable to think about...but fascinating at the same time.