I didn't really have any idea what the storyline would be but decided to listen because of good reviews.
All I can say now is I downloaded this beautifully written novel 16 hours ago and I'm finished it. I just couldn't stop listening.
I'm a geologist and I use Audible books to while away long hours on the road... My pickup truck is my reading room!
What a unique author Ishiguro is! A Brit with a Japanese surname, and a body of work which spans the spectrum from Edwarian classicism to Arthurian fables to science fiction.
“Never Let Me Go” is, in the strict sense, science fiction. It lies in a near future when a separate class of humans lives among us, beings cloned for the sole purpose of organ donorship, but otherwise completely normal humans. And therefore, it lies temporally in the opposite direction from "The Buried Giant", set in King Arthur’s time.
Stylistically, it lies midway between the observational exactitude of “Remains of the Day” and the broad, symbolic strokes of “The Buried Giant”.
But all three works, you could say, treat of the same theme: the permanence of love – it’s meaning in our lives, its ability (or inability) to transcend the devastating truth of our mortality.
Strangely, I get different messages from “Never Let Me Go” and “The Buried Giant”. In the former work, the memories that love generates provide the fortitude to face mortality: “I lost Ruth, then I lost Tommy, but I won’t lose my memory of them.” In “The Buried Giant”, however, memory itself is untenable, evanescent. Love does carry us beyond the grave.
There is so much going on here. I must work my way through the rest of Ishiguro’s body of work before I can make more sense of it.
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
Within this novel is the perfect gem of a story. Unfortunately, you really have to dig until you find that gem. And by digging, I mean you had to listen to a whole lot of Kathy's introspective thoughts. Much of which does little to advance the story line. There are parts of the book where the narrator (Kathy) actually says "I want to tell you an event, but before I can I have to tell you about a conversation that occurred three weeks before the event." To me that means the conversation will have some direct bearing on the event. In most situations, it does not.
I think the purpose of the first two sections of the book is world-building. Creating an environment for the characters that allows the reader to ultimately accept the unbelievable direction of the characters adult lives. A detailed explanation of the environment the children were raised in, might be helpful in understanding the adults they became. But it isn't. A timely explanation of why they were raised in that environment, an understanding of the arbitrary decision to move them to a new location at a certain age and a little more explanation of the experiment would have helped as well. Instead adult readers suffer through two thirds of the book being nothing more than meandering through a child's then teenager's thoughts. Never very interesting.
The last third of the book is worth the slogging the reader has to go through in the first two thirds - at least I think it is. Many loose ends are never tied up. Many hints are never elaborated upon. Because of the subject matter it obviously cannot have a traditional HEA. Yet I found the part of the book that focuses on the experiment these children are subjected to, the part that focuses on the actual results of this experimentation - how it actually affects those involved - fascinating. For the last third of the book, I highly recommend this novel.
Finally, after thinking about this story a few days I am left with one question - Why didn't they just leave? I assume the reason they didn't was to point out that few of us ever stray to far from the path we start down - even if we know it likely ends poorly for us.
...but just didn't work for me. With the word "humanity" being kicked around in the description for this book, I started it expecting to learn something about me, about us as a society. Instead, I found myself not only not caring about the characters, but not even liking them.
I expected more from this novel and from Ishiguro and while it was certainly enjoyable enough to get through, I learned nothing and came away with nothing from it.
If another author had written this as a first novel, I would definitely not have been this critically harsh and would have rated this book much more highly. But coming from the author of that masterpiece Remains of the Day, I'm afraid that Ishiguro may have set so high a standard for himself that even he cannot sustain that level of writing.
Unfortunately the narrator did little to endear the characters to us. Her voice is a cold, impersonal, cut glass British accent. To make it worse, she must be at least middle aged, while the main character is just a young woman, further distancing herself to the reader.
Good characters playing out an answer to a question I was not asking. Whether a political response to an issue that I don't care about it an Everyman tale, it just missed for me.
Very well read.
I'm a law student and I love books.
This is a really special book. You really feel invested in the characters and feel like you're experiencing their lives along with them. Don't let the description of this book as "science fiction" put you off it if that's not really your thing. I think it's best described as a drama. The pace at which the major conflicts of the book are revealed is really well done to keep you interested. Overall, it's really a tragic story, told with perfect timing and tone. Love, love, loved it.