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Editorial Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Listening to Never Let Me Go was like entering a literary dream-state where, bit by bit, reality shifts and the truth is revealed. Rosalyn Landor is less a narrator and more a storyteller who brought me along as the characters uncovered the essential mysteries of their lives. —Steve Feldberg

Publisher's Summary

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, comes an unforgettable edge-of-your-seat mystery that is at once heartbreakingly tender and morally courageous about what it means to be human.

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.

Critic Reviews

  • National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee, 2005, Fiction
  • Alex Award Winner, 2006

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Waste of time

Honestly can't believe I listened to this whole thing. I kept waiting for something to happen, anything really. It was just on the side of the line of terribleness that I kept wanting to see maybe it was gonna turn the corner...nope, skip it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Another excellent Ishiguro

Any additional comments?

Ishiguro, a master of subtle and understated prose, has another excellent novel in Never Let Me Go. The narrator, Kathy tells the story of her friendship with Ruth and Tommy, from their earliest days at their private boarding school, to adulthood, through its ups and downs, until only Kathy is left. While many know what makes these characters special when the novel begins, even those who don't have some prior knowledge should figure it out with little difficulty, early on. While never stating things explicitly, the clues are in plain sight.

What is the true focus and brilliance of Ishiguro's novel isn't the what, but rather, the how these three have been raised to this purpose, and what they eventually find out about what makes the special. That revelation has far more impact on the audience than it does the characters. That reveal takes what is disturbing and makes the alternative, or rather, the more common practice horrifying.

The characters are well drawn and Kathy's narrative draws us in, paints a detailed picture of their world, connecting to us, yet it is also an unfathomable existence. Strangely, I empathized with their experience, but at same was frustrated by their unquestioning acceptance, despite understanding their upbringing's goal was precisely that.

Ishiguro's work is always thought provoking, always based in the complex emotional inter-personal relationships and the individual's relationship to their status in the world. Never Let Me Go adds the layer of a possible ethic quandary that our innovations of science may present sooner than we'd like.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Dull

I kept waiting for something interesting to happen. It never did. The reader was excellent, though. High marks for her.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • F. Turner
  • Corpus Christi, TX United States
  • 05-17-08

Our Selves, Our Society, Our Science

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.

R3W

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Bev
  • Alton, IL, USA
  • 09-26-07

What to say...

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 -

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

thought provoking

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Cariola
  • Chambersburg, PA USA
  • 08-17-06

What a bore!

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.

14 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Gene
  • Agoura Hills, CA, USA
  • 09-07-05

Mesmerizing

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Remarkable very emotional with issues to think

This is remarkable book that raises very sensitive issue of body parts donation. Slowly we are getting to know the kids that are in the center of the story. gradually I was getting atuched emotionally and walked with them in grewing up.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The ending tells all - savor the wait.

Details written in an engrossing style, captures your imagination, creates images and makes you remember images from your own life too. At moments I was tempted to set this aside as dreary -- so glad I didn't. Speaker was perfect. if your ready for depth, and not in need of uplifting at the moment, try this book. Makes you ponder what kindness really is -- and the darkness behind silence and condescension.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful