Coming soon! A brand new From My Bookshelf experience.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

70. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro


Title: Never Let Me Go
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Copyright: 2005
Pages: 304
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 9-10-08

I have been waiting on this writing this review for some time now as I have tried to come up with a proper way to write about Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. I don't want to give anything away about the story, because I think it's important that the reader experience this story with no prior knowledge whatsoever of what is to come in the story. I believe that this is the only way to fully appreciate the impact of this story, so I'll just talk about my feelings about the book after letting it sink in for a couple of weeks, because this story has been a part of my thinking since I finished it.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go is such a complex and involved story, due to not only the story itself but the implications of the issues brought forth in the story, that I had to pause on several occasions while listening to the audiobook to ponder what was being presented to me. The book is split into three separate sections, each narrated by Kathie H., a 31 year old woman recounting her years at the boarding school, Hailsham, and her subsequent early years after leaving Hailsham. The children of Hailsham are educated and readied for society and their role in society while in school, and until it is made clear to the reader what that role is, nothing seems out of place. It is only when the children's role is fully realized that the implications of that role and what it means to them, to their society and to the reader will really hit home.

At the start, the characters seem so disconnected about what is going on around them that they act almost as spectators to their own stories. Eventually, their story and actions begin to shift, and it becomes a story of individualism and identity and about trying to not lose oneself, even when your destiny seems to be leading you away from who you are or want to be. I'm not ashamed to say that I cried at the end, when there doesn't seem much hope at all left for Kathie H., and yet she perseveres in her life and won't lose herself entirely.

I can't say that I was shocked when I discovered what was happening and the children's role in their society, but it still took me by surprise and made me stop listening for awhile to take it all in. I love books that can do this; force me step away from the book for awhile to really think about what is happening in the story. Ishiguro challenges his readers with this story; taking us a little out of our comfort zones and showing us our true selves. I can relate to both the children and their society as a whole when viewing the children. I'd like to think that I would take the higher road, but if presented with the same issues that Ishiguro presents to his readers, I don't know what I would honestly say if I were in the same need.

Never Let Me Go is a powerful and lasting book. Kazuo Ishiguro has deftly handled so many issues, the consequences of these issues and the emotional backlash of dealing with these issues that the book is almost too much to take in with just one reading. I originally listened to this as an audiobook, but I think I want to go buy a copy of my own so that I can read through it again at my own pace and really take in all that this story has to offer.


Anonymous said...

This was, without a doubt, the most disturbing book I've ever read. That doesn't mean that I'm sorry I read it. In fact the exact opposite is true. But, I am still working through the implications and expect to be doing so for some considerable time. It is, I think, a truly great book.

Elizabeth said...

I was more disturbed by this book than by most of the "horror" I've read - Ishiguro is truly brilliant. Great review!