Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.
Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it's only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.
Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.
©2005 Kazuo Ishiguro; (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"Stunningly brilliant fiction....A masterpiece of craftsmanship that offers an unparalleled emotional experience." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Ishiguro's elegant prose and masterly ways with characterization make for a lovely tale of memory, self-understanding, and love." (Library Journal)
"So exquisitely observed that even the most workaday objects and interactions are infused with a luminous, humming otherworldliness.....Ishiguro spins a stinging cautionary tale of science outpacing ethics." (Publishers Weekly)
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 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!
One of the best books I've read. Ishiguro's literary finesse is impressive as he pulls the reader delicately into the story only to surprise you with what he's really up to. A masterful look at childhood and character turns into something much larger, a subtle and skillful look at how social values become hopelessly compromised. A love story that engages us with a coming moral dilemma.
I read the other reviews, both before and after I bought this book. I can easily understand why it was not a good choice for everyone, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. First of all, the reader is top notch. I could listen to her all day, she made the story come to life. No, it is not a fast paced cliff hanger, but it is a book that makes you think, maybe even more than you want to, about our society and medical ethics. This is not escapist fiction which is my usual choice, but a very interesting and well written story.
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."
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.
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