Friday, April 15, 2011

BR: Never Let Me Go

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Firstly, I know... it's movie week! Except this relates to movies, I promise.

I wanted to read this book the moment I saw the trailer, from the simple yet complex storyline presented in the 2 minute span… Actually, I wanted to see the movie, but made myself read the book first.

Summary (goodreads):

As a child, Kathy—now thirty-one years old—lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed--even comforted--by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham's nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood—and about their lives now.


My Thoughts

Never Let Me Go is a haunting tale that is full of atmosphere and character. A break from the typical YA novel, it was a refreshingly compelling novel that I had no trouble getting in to, whether it was because of the eye-opening subject matter or the writing itself.

The world built by Ishiguro is alarmingly subtle, as were the ‘secrets’, or should I just say ‘tragic truths’. However, this doesn’t hold him back from exploring the depths of humanity, from resentment and betrayal to love and beauty. But holding the tendrils together was poetic writing that brought out true, heart-felt emotion.

Kathy’s character doesn’t come across as the most sympathetic, yet I felt under her rather weak demeanour was a resiliency. Her love for Ruth and Tommy could be slightly un-understandable at times (man, Ruth could be a bitch!) but in the end when the pieces fell together, I couldn’t ask for anything more. Kathy’s narration kept me hooked in the way her words felt intimate, as if she were telling the story just to me, filling it with small details that seem rather irrelevant in context but relevant in style.

As the story progresses, the characters continue stumbling towards their inevitable fate, but not in a way you would expect. The last pages were utterly heartbreaking, with all the tiny details having been built up and built up...

It’s hard to accurately ‘review’ this to be honest, but I do sincerely hope this post has caught your attention for the book, and if you’re even remotely interested, that you give this a try. If you have read this book, you would better understand what I mean when I say: Never let Me Go has soul.

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: readers looking for a well-written adult novel, book clubs, people who want a ‘thinking’ book. You should definitely borrow it from the library and give it a try if you're reluctant :)


movie trailer:


  1. Great review. I love this book, it's easily one of my favorites. I think it's best when you read it without knowing anything about it. It sucks because the synopsis sounds really boring so people (well, my best friend at least) don't want to read it. But the books is SO MUCH MORE than what's written on the back! I'm still waiting to see the movie... I need to rent it soon.

  2. Fantastic review but.. you cow! The part where he is screaming and on his knees in the trailer had me a little mushy :( Gah!! Now I'm so tempted to watch the movie before reading the book. The movie looks amazing!!

  3. Great review! I'm dying to see the movie, hopefully I'll go this weekend!

  4. it is full of atmosphere and completely haunting.

    i LOVED it and your review is rocking.

    havent seen the movie yet. have heard it is quite diff to the book :/

  5. I want to see the movie too, but I'm looking to read the book first :D I'm glad you say it's good, Audrey! I would really love to read this. :)

  6. Audry, that trailer gave me the chills, and I even teared up a bit in the end.

    A book with a soul. What a wonderful description. You know, I still haven't read Remains of the Day yet, but the way it is praised, I need to check it out, now I've got this one to add to my list, too.

    I don't know how I would handle that heartbreak in the end, but it sounds to intriguing to pass up.

  7. I have the book but still need to read it and I am DESPERATE to see this movie - that trailer makes me want to see it more...

    Fun Fact for you guys: The building used for Hailsham is a building near my house in Richmond, near London and is actually called Ham House. It's so nice in there.
    It's also been used for 'The Young Victoria', 'The Duchess', 'Spice World' (oh yeah) and 'Sense and Sensibility'. Such a nice house though - really old. :)

  8. sarahem-ooh, I'm so glad to hear that! And I agree, the summary doesn't do most books justice :) I hope you like the movie, I certianly did =)

    Aly- ohhh I know what you mean SO MUCH I rewatched that and was basically committed to reading/watching this after seeing that scream. and doesn't that make you just love Andrew Garfield more??

    Belle- thank you! Hope you enjoy :)

    Nomes- eek, I'm so excited you agree! I'm always worried about recommending non-YA books b/c sometimes they aren't for everybody even though I loved them :) There's a few changes and of course, parts that are cut out but it's pretty good and has great acting :)

    Justine- I hope you get a chance to try it :) It's different but I still think it's good.

    Missie- I know, I swear 1000 of those views are from me, I love it. Someone commented saying they didn't like Remains of the Day, but I hope you do! I want to read it for sure

    Rebecca- man, I was pretty desperate to watch this after seeing the trailer too! AAHHH I want to go to there!!

  9. This was one of the best books I've read this year. I didn't get to see the movie (will have to rent it when it comes out on DVD.) I thought the gradual revealing of the secrets that aren't quite secret was very clever, reflecting how the children understood what was going on without realising it. Great review, thank you.


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