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.
Retired, chess, computers, Moscow, text to speech, audiobooks, books, learning, thinking, jogging, beans 'n greens.
It's obvious, when you think about it. We participate in horrible things like war, yet we manage to live as if it was not unspeakable. It takes a great writer like Kazuo Ishiguro to twist our world enough out of recognition that we finally recognize it. What's next -- people who watch TV while guiding the killing machines they are watching? Oh, too late -- reality has alrady stolen that plot, and it is playing in afternoon matinees in Pakistan.
I'm on chapter 7 and still waiting for major conflict to be introduced. Even minor conflict between characters is so vague and polite that it doesn't seem like conflict at all. If it weren't an audio book, I would have given up completely on this story. I don't know how anyone could make this into an engaging film. Good luck on that.
This book had such a lingering impact. I found myself crying days later at the hopeless situation of these "students" lives. So, hopeless, that they barely even dared to dream of any life beyond what was set for them, let alone strive to escape their destinies. Ruth's big dream is just so pathetic in real life, that it made me re-evalute that character. At the end of the book, I disliked her -- judging her from the internal standard of her world. After all, she was manipulative and self-centered. And yet, days later, when viewed from outside her world, how can you judge her harshly. I have re-evaluated several times how I feel about Madame and Miss Emily, whether or not Miss Lucy was right and why Tommy continued to do his art.
This is a delectable work of literary genius. It's not a pulsing thriller, but the weaving of the story certainly elicits enough thrill. Rosalyn Landor reads the prose with deft and captures the voices of each character with great skill.
Mr. Ishiguro is a fine writer, but this novel's pace is quite slow and the story is utterly unbelievable in the setting. I don't want to ruin the story for those who will listen to the book. So I won't explain why. I would never have bothered to finish it had I not read another reader's review saying that it would be all become worthwhile in the end. Unfortunately it did not. The story is predictable, and I could not suspend enough disbelief to buy into it. That said, the writing is first class, the characters are well developed, and the narrator did an excellent job. Those earn the three stars. The story itself rates just one star.
I was told the concept of this and it was right up my alley. Real world -- with a kick of sci-fi thrown in. Unfortunately, the way it was written bothered me from the outset. I constantly felt like the main character knew more than she was telling us. This turned out to be true... but admittedly... is true for many books told in a retrospective format. But what irked me about this, was that she was constantly telling you she knew more than she was saying and would pull you along through a very long and dry backstory of a situation, only to tell you, quite literally, "... but I'll get back to that later"... as you reached the climax of the issue. It seemed like a cheap way to hook you into further reading.
The authors digressions, I believe, were intended to better illustrate the world these characters lived in, but would meander so much and finally culminate in something so trivial that by the time you actually returned to the storyline, you'd sort of forgotten where you were and had become slightly disinterested.
It took everything in my power to make it to the end of this and sadly, played itself out in just the way I assumed it would.
If you can tolerate the pace and the digressions... I will say the narrator was captivating with a soothing British accent.
While not really science fiction, this is a mysterious story at first. What is being described is unclear, and as the story unfolds becomes eerie and disturbing. Unfortunately this can be seen as possible.
In "Never Let Me Go" you are transported to another version of our world. By the end, the narrator had really distinguished the characters so I knew who was talking without "tags". The material did not seem fresh, but it was a fascinating pseudo-mystery. If you figure out what is going on (which isn't that hard) the ending may disappoint, but ultimately the writing itself is beautiful and compelling.
One major drawback (although I've read it goes directly to the characters and plot) is that the character goes back and forth in this backhanded way. Kathy will tell you something then say:
"Maybe I felt that way because of what happened next" and then proceeds to tell you what happened next. Or she'd say "That made a difference because of something else that happened. Now let me tell you what happened that time." OR "I didn't know at the time that such and such had happened." It gets into these pointless tangles that can get frustrating. Still, the book is a worthy read if you can hang in there.
I gave five stars to Never Let Me Go because I was able to listen to this book in a weekend -- excellently narrated with English accent by Rosalyn Landor. Listening to a book non-stop is always an indication that I enjoyed it! The presentation was low key, so I can see why some thought it to be boring, but for some of us the story line is considered so beautiful, fascinating, mysterious and just well done -- loved it.