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.
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.
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 :)