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Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go

3.8 797
by Kazuo Ishiguro, Rosalyn Landor (Read by)

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

One of Kazuo Ishiguro's greatest novelistic skills is his restraint. A writer who never reveals more than we need to know, he doles out details in small, carefully rationed increments, like delicacies too rich to squander -- leaving readers craving more. Nowhere is this skill more apparent than in this dark, dystopian tale of three former friends, all alumni of a British boarding school, who unravel a horrifying secret about their alma mater. We find it utterly compelling.
Sarah Kerr
There is no way around revealing the premise of Kazuo Ishiguro's new novel. It is brutal, especially for a writer celebrated as a poet of the unspoken. But it takes a while for us to get a handle on it. Since it's the nature of Ishiguro narrators to postpone a full reckoning of their place in the world, all we know in the early going is that we don't quite know what's going on.
— The New York Times Sunday Book Review
Jonathan Yardley
What Madame thinks she sees will not be revealed for many pages, but it gets right to the essence of this quite wonderful novel, the best Ishiguro has written since the sublime The Remains of the Day. It is almost literally a novel about humanity: what constitutes it, what it means, how it can be honored or denied. These little children, and the adults they eventually become, are brought up to serve humanity in the most astonishing and selfless ways, and the humanity they achieve in so doing makes us realize that in a new world the word must be redefined. Ishiguro pulls the reader along to that understanding at a steady, insistent pace. If the guardians at Hailsham "timed very carefully and deliberately everything they told us, so that we were always just too young to understand properly the latest piece of information," by the same token Ishiguro carefully and deliberately unfolds Hailsham's secrets one by one, piece by piece, as if he were slowly peeling an artichoke.
— The Washington Post
Michiko Kakutani
In this novel, Mr. Ishiguro has set aside the windy Kafkaesque pretensions of his last two books to tell a tight, deftly controlled story. Though the grisly material he's dealing with is light years removed from that in The Remains of the Day, the resulting novel is just as accomplished and, in a very different way, just as melancholy and alarming.
— The New York Times
Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy grow up together as children at exclusive Hailsham, a remote boarding school secluded in the English countryside. Hailsham is a place of rigid and mysterious rules, and teachers constantly remind their charges just how special they are. Still, Hailsham will come to be regarded fondly by them, a haven that they will only later appreciate. Now, years later, Ruth and Tommy are drastically weakened by organ donation surgeries, and are ultimately waiting to "complete." While caring for the two at different British centres, a grown-up Kathy only now begins to understand what makes the three of them so special, and how it has determined the courses of their lives. Melancholy, suspenseful, and at times alarming, this novel is a compellingly dark page-turner. As Ishiguro slowly and carefully unveils the truth about Hailsham, he reveals the dark underbelly of a post-war society prepared to take any measures, no matter how extreme, in order to vanquish its own loss and suffering. Ishiguro succeeds in building suspense and then deftly reveals only snatches of meaning in carefully controlled increments. Never Let Me Go is an eerie novel about the potential future relationship between modern science and Western society--and the conflicting consequences. KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Random House, Vintage International, 288p., $14.00.. Ages 15 to adult.
—Sarah Howard
Library Journal
Ishiguro's previous novels, including the Booker Prize winning The Remains of the Day and A Pale View of the Hills, have been exquisite studies of microcosmic worlds whose inhabitants struggle with loss and love, despair and hope. Above all, his characters strive to forge an enduring self-identity that can withstand the blows of an uncaring world. His new novel centers on one such character, Kathy H., and her attempts not only to find herself but also to understand her role in a mysterious world whose meanings she often fails to comprehend. As a child, Kathy H. attended Hailsham, a private preparatory school whose teachers and guardians sheltered the students from reality. Now 31, Kathy has assumed the position for which she was trained at Hailsham so long ago, and she has put the memories of her Hailsham days out of her mind. When she is thrown together with two of her old school friends, she begins to relive experiences that both call into question her friendships and deepen them. Her memories reveal also that the pastoral and pleasant Hailsham harbored dark and mysterious secrets that she now can begin to understand. Ishiguro's elegant prose and masterly ways with characterization make for a lovely tale of memory, self-understanding, and love. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/04.]-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-The elegance of Ishiguro's prose and the pitch-perfect voice of his narrator conspire to usher readers convincingly into the remembered world of Hailsham, a British boarding school for "special students." The reminiscence is told from the point of view of Kathy H., now 31, whose evocation of the sheltered estate's sunlit rolling hills, guardians, dormitories, and sports pavilions is imbued with undercurrents of muted tension and foreboding that presage a darker reality. As an adult, Kathy re-engages in lapsed friendships with classmates Ruth and Tommy, examining the details of their shared youth and revisiting with growing awareness the clues and anecdotal evidence apparent to them even as youngsters that they were "different" from everyone outside. Ultimately, readers learn that the Hailsham children are clones, raised solely for the purpose of medical harvesting of organs, their lifespan circumscribed by years when they are designated as carers, followed by a short period as active donors, culminating in what is obliquely referred to as "completion." The recovery centers where Kathy serves as a carer for Ruth and then Tommy provide the setting for the latter half of the novel, defining the distinct rhythms and tenor of their days much as Hailsham did when they were young. Ishiguro conveys with exquisite sensitivity the emotional texture of the threesome's relationship, their bonds of personal loyalty that overcome fractures of trust, the palpable boundaries of hope, and the human capacity for forgiveness. Highly recommended for literary merit and as an exceptional platform for the discussion of a controversial topic.-Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An ambitious scientific experiment wreaks horrendous toll in the Booker-winning British author's disturbingly eloquent sixth novel (after When We Were Orphans, 2000). Ishiguro's narrator, identified only as Kath(y) H., speaks to us as a 31-year-old social worker of sorts, who's completing her tenure as a "carer," prior to becoming herself one of the "donors" whom she visits at various "recovery centers." The setting is "England, late 1990s"-more than two decades after Kath was raised at a rural private school (Hailsham) whose students, all children of unspecified parentage, were sheltered, encouraged to develop their intellectual and especially artistic capabilities, and groomed to become donors. Visions of Brave New World and 1984 arise as Kath recalls in gradually and increasingly harrowing detail her friendships with fellow students Ruth and Tommy (the latter a sweet, though distractible boy prone to irrational temper tantrums), their "graduation" from Hailsham and years of comparative independence at a remote halfway house (the Cottages), the painful outcome of Ruth's breakup with Tommy (whom Kath also loves), and the discovery the adult Kath and Tommy make when (while seeking a "deferral" from carer or donor status) they seek out Hailsham's chastened "guardians" and receive confirmation of the limits long since placed on them. With perfect pacing and infinite subtlety, Ishiguro reveals exactly as much as we need to know about how efforts to regulate the future through genetic engineering create, control, then emotionlessly destroy very real, very human lives-without ever showing us the faces of the culpable, who have "tried to convince themselves. . . . That you were less than human,so it didn't matter." That this stunningly brilliant fiction echoes Caryl Churchill's superb play A Number and Margaret Atwood's celebrated dystopian novels in no way diminishes its originality and power. A masterpiece of craftsmanship that offers an unparalleled emotional experience. Send a copy to the Swedish Academy. First printing of 100,000; author tour. Agent: Deborah Rogers/Rogers, Coleridge & White
From the Publisher

"A page turner and a heartbreaker, a tour de force of knotted tension and buried anguish.” —Time

“A Gothic tour de force. . . . A tight, deftly controlled story . . . . Just as accomplished [as The Remains of the Day] and, in a very different way, just as melancholy and alarming.” —The New York Times

"Elegaic, deceptively lovely. . . . As always, Ishiguro pulls you under." —Newsweek

“Superbly unsettling, impeccably controlled . . . . The book’s irresistible power comes from Ishiguro’s matchless ability to expose its dark heart in careful increments.” —Entertainment Weekly

Product Details

Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged, 8 CDs, 9 hours
Product dimensions:
5.08(w) x 5.91(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

My name is Kathy H. I’m thirty-one years old, and I’ve been a carer now for over eleven years. That sounds long enough, I know, but actually they want me to go on for another eight months, until the end of this year. That’ll make it almost exactly twelve years. Now I know my being a carer so long isn’t necessarily because they think I’m fantastic at what I do. There are some really good carers who’ve been told to stop after just two or three years. And I can think of one carer at least who went on for all of fourteen years despite being a complete waste of space. So I’m not trying to boast. But then I do know for a fact they’ve been pleased with my work, and by and large, I have too. My donors have always tended to do much better than expected. Their recovery times have been impressive, and hardly any of them have been classified as “agitated,” even before fourth donation. Okay, maybe I am boasting now. But it means a lot to me, being able to do my work well, especially that bit about my donors staying “calm.” I’ve developed a kind of instinct around donors. I know when to hang around and comfort them, when to leave them to themselves; when to listen to everything they have to say, and when just to shrug and tell them to snap out of it.

Anyway, I’m not making any big claims for myself. I know carers, working now, who are just as good and don’t get half the credit. If you’re one of them, I can understand how you might get resentful—about my bedsit, my car, above all, the way I get to pick and choose who I look after. And I’m a Hailsham student—which is enough by itself sometimes to get people’s backs up. Kathy H., they say, she gets to pick and choose, and she always chooses her own kind: people from Hailsham, or one of the other privileged estates. No wonder she has a great record. I’ve heard it said enough, so I’m sure you’ve heard it plenty more, and maybe there’s something in it. But I’m not the first to be allowed to pick and choose, and I doubt if I’ll be the last. And anyway, I’ve done my share of looking after donors brought up in every kind of place. By the time I finish, remember, I’ll have done twelve years of this, and it’s only for the last six they’ve let me choose.

And why shouldn’t they? Carers aren’t machines. You try and do your best for every donor, but in the end, it wears you down. You don’t have unlimited patience and energy. So when you get a chance to choose, of course, you choose your own kind. That’s natural. There’s no way I could have gone on for as long as I have if I’d stopped feeling for my donors every step of the way. And anyway, if I’d never started choosing, how would I ever have got close again to Ruth and Tommy after all those years?

But these days, of course, there are fewer and fewer donors left who I remember, and so in practice, I haven’t been choosing that much. As I say, the work gets a lot harder when you don’t have that deeper link with the donor, and though I’ll miss being a carer, it feels just about right to be finishing at last come the end of the year.

Ruth, incidentally, was only the third or fourth donor I got to choose. She already had a carer assigned to her at the time, and I remember it taking a bit of nerve on my part. But in the end I managed it, and the instant I saw her again, at that recovery centre in Dover, all our differences—while they didn’t exactly vanish—seemed not nearly as important as all the other things: like the fact that we’d grown up together at Hailsham, the fact that we knew and remembered things no one else did. It’s ever since then, I suppose, I started seeking out for my donors people from the past, and whenever I could, people from Hailsham.

There have been times over the years when I’ve tried to leave Hailsham behind, when I’ve told myself I shouldn’t look back so much. But then there came a point when I just stopped resisting. It had to do with this particular donor I had once, in my third year as a carer; it was his reaction when I mentioned I was from Hailsham. He’d just come through his third donation, it hadn’t gone well, and he must have known he wasn’t going to make it. He could hardly breathe, but he looked towards me and said: “Hailsham. I bet that was a beautiful place.” Then the next morning, when I was making conversation to keep his mind off it all, and I asked where he’d grown up, he mentioned some place in Dorset and his face beneath the blotches went into a completely new kind of grimace. And I realised then how desperately he didn’t want reminded. Instead, he wanted to hear about Hailsham.

So over the next five or six days, I told him whatever he wanted to know, and he’d lie there, all hooked up, a gentle smile breaking through. He’d ask me about the big things and the little things. About our guardians, about how we each had our own collection chests under our beds, the football, the rounders, the little path that took you all round the outside of the main house, round all its nooks and crannies, the duck pond, the food, the view from the Art Room over the fields on a foggy morning. Sometimes he’d make me say things over and over; things I’d told him only the day before, he’d ask about like I’d never told him. “Did you have a sports pavilion?” “Which guardian was your special favourite?” At first I thought this was just the drugs, but then I realised his mind was clear enough. What he wanted was not just to hear about Hailsham, but to remember Hailsham, just like it had been his own childhood. He knew he was close to completing and so that’s what he was doing: getting me to describe things to him, so they’d really sink in, so that maybe during those sleepless nights, with the drugs and the pain and the exhaustion, the line would blur between what were my memories and what were his. That was when I first understood, really understood, just how lucky we’d been—Tommy, Ruth, me, all the rest of us.


Driving around the country now, I still see things that will remind me of Hailsham. I might pass the corner of a misty field, or see part of a large house in the distance as I come down the side of a valley, even a particular arrangement of poplar trees up on a hillside, and I’ll think: “Maybe that’s it! I’ve found it! This actually is Hailsham!” Then I see it’s impossible and I go on driving, my thoughts drifting on elsewhere. In particular, there are those pavilions. I spot them all over the country, standing on the far side of playing fields, little white prefab buildings with a row of windows unnaturally high up, tucked almost under the eaves. I think they built a whole lot like that in the fifties and sixties, which is probably when ours was put up. If I drive past one I keep looking over to it for as long as possible, and one day I’ll crash the car like that, but I keep doing it. Not long ago I was driving through an empty stretch of Worcestershire and saw one beside a cricket ground so like ours at Hailsham I actually turned the car and went back for a second look.

We loved our sports pavilion, maybe because it reminded us of those sweet little cottages people always had in picture books when we were young. I can remember us back in the Juniors, pleading with guardians to hold the next lesson in the pavilion instead of the usual room. Then by the time we were in Senior 2—when we were twelve, going on thirteen—the pavilion had become the place to hide out with your best friends when you wanted to get away from the rest of Hailsham.

The pavilion was big enough to take two separate groups without them bothering each other—in the summer, a third group could hang about out on the veranda. But ideally you and your friends wanted the place just to yourselves, so there was often jockeying and arguing. The guardians were always telling us to be civilised about it, but in practice, you needed to have some strong personalities in your group to stand a chance of getting the pavilion during a break or free period. I wasn’t exactly the wilting type myself, but I suppose it was really because of Ruth we got in there as often as we did.

Usually we just spread ourselves around the chairs and benches—there’d be five of us, six if Jenny B. came along—and had a good gossip. There was a kind of conversation that could only happen when you were hidden away in the pavilion; we might discuss something that was worrying us, or we might end up screaming with laughter, or in a furious row. Mostly, it was a way to unwind for a while with your closest friends.

On the particular afternoon I’m now thinking of, we were standing up on stools and benches, crowding around the high windows. That gave us a clear view of the North Playing Field where about a dozen boys from our year and Senior 3 had gathered to play football. There was bright sunshine, but it must have been raining earlier that day because I can remember how the sun was glinting on the muddy surface of the grass.

Someone said we shouldn’t be so obvious about watching, but we hardly moved back at all. Then Ruth said: “He doesn’t suspect a thing. Look at him. He really doesn’t suspect a thing.”

When she said this, I looked at her and searched for signs of disapproval about what the boys were going to do to Tommy. But the next second Ruth gave a little laugh and said: “The idiot!”

And I realised that for Ruth and the others, whatever the boys chose to do was pretty remote from us; whether we approved or not didn’t come into it. We were gathered around the windows at that moment not because we relished the prospect of seeing Tommy get humiliated yet again, but just because we’d heard about this latest plot and were vaguely curious to watch it unfold. In those days, I don’t think what the boys did amongst themselves went much deeper than that. For Ruth, for the others, it was that detached, and the chances are that’s how it was for me too.

Or maybe I’m remembering it wrong. Maybe even then, when I saw Tommy rushing about that field, undisguised delight on his face to be accepted back in the fold again, about to play the game at which he so excelled, maybe I did feel a little stab of pain. What I do remember is that I noticed Tommy was wearing the light blue polo shirt he’d got in the Sales the previous month—the one he was so proud of. I remember thinking: “He’s really stupid, playing football in that. It’ll get ruined, then how’s he going to feel?” Out loud, I said, to no one in particular: “Tommy’s got his shirt on. His favourite polo shirt.”

I don’t think anyone heard me, because they were all laughing at Laura—the big clown in our group—mimicking one after the other the expressions that appeared on Tommy’s face as he ran, waved, called, tackled. The other boys were all moving around the field in that deliberately languorous way they have when they’re warming up, but Tommy, in his excitement, seemed already to be going full pelt. I said, louder this time: “He’s going to be so sick if he ruins that shirt.” This time Ruth heard me, but she must have thought I’d meant it as some kind of joke, because she laughed half-heartedly, then made some quip of her own.

Then the boys had stopped kicking the ball about, and were standing in a pack in the mud, their chests gently rising and falling as they waited for the team picking to start. The two captains who emerged were from Senior 3, though everyone knew Tommy was a better player than any of that year. They tossed for first pick, then the one who’d won stared at the group.

“Look at him,” someone behind me said. “He’s completely convinced he’s going to be first pick. Just look at him!”

There was something comical about Tommy at that moment, something that made you think, well, yes, if he’s going to be that daft, he deserves what’s coming. The other boys were all pre- tending to ignore the picking process, pretending they didn’t care where they came in the order. Some were talking quietly to each other, some re-tying their laces, others just staring down at their feet as they trammelled the mud. But Tommy was looking eagerly at the Senior 3 boy, as though his name had already been called.

Laura kept up her performance all through the team-picking, doing all the different expressions that went across Tommy’s face: the bright eager one at the start; the puzzled concern when four picks had gone by and he still hadn’t been chosen; the hurt and panic as it began to dawn on him what was really going on. I didn’t keep glancing round at Laura, though, because I was watching Tommy; I only knew what she was doing because the others kept laughing and egging her on. Then when Tommy was left standing alone, and the boys all began sniggering, I heard Ruth say:

“It’s coming. Hold it. Seven seconds. Seven, six, five . . .”

She never got there. Tommy burst into thunderous bellowing, and the boys, now laughing openly, started to run off towards the South Playing Field. Tommy took a few strides after them—it was hard to say whether his instinct was to give angry chase or if he was panicked at being left behind. In any case he soon stopped and stood there, glaring after them, his face scarlet. Then he began to scream and shout, a nonsensical jumble of swear words and insults.

We’d all seen plenty of Tommy’s tantrums by then, so we came down off our stools and spread ourselves around the room. We tried to start up a conversation about something else, but there was Tommy going on and on in the background, and although at first we just rolled our eyes and tried to ignore it, in the end—probably a full ten minutes after we’d first moved away—we were back up at the windows again.

The other boys were now completely out of view, and Tommy was no longer trying to direct his comments in any particular direction. He was just raving, flinging his limbs about, at the sky, at the wind, at the nearest fence post. Laura said he was maybe “rehearsing his Shakespeare.” Someone else pointed out how each time he screamed something he’d raise one foot off the ground, pointing it outwards, “like a dog doing a pee.” Actually, I’d noticed the same foot movement myself, but what had struck me was that each time he stamped the foot back down again, flecks of mud flew up around his shins. I thought again about his precious shirt, but he was too far away for me to see if he’d got much mud on it.

“I suppose it is a bit cruel,” Ruth said, “the way they always work him up like that. But it’s his own fault. If he learnt to keep his cool, they’d leave him alone.”

“They’d still keep on at him,” Hannah said. “Graham K.’s temper’s just as bad, but that only makes them all the more care- ful with him. The reason they go for Tommy’s because he’s a layabout.”

Then everyone was talking at once, about how Tommy never even tried to be creative, about how he hadn’t even put anything in for the Spring Exchange. I suppose the truth was, by that stage, each of us was secretly wishing a guardian would come from the house and take him away. And although we hadn’t had any part in this latest plan to rile Tommy, we had taken out ringside seats, and we were starting to feel guilty. But there was no sign of a guardian, so we just kept swapping reasons why Tommy deserved everything he got. Then when Ruth looked at her watch and said even though we still had time, we should get back to the main house, nobody argued.

Tommy was still going strong as we came out of the pavilion. The house was over to our left, and since Tommy was standing in the field straight ahead of us, there was no need to go anywhere near him. In any case, he was facing the other way and didn’t seem to register us at all. All the same, as my friends set off along the edge of the field, I started to drift over towards him. I knew this would puzzle the others, but I kept going—even when I heard Ruth’s urgent whisper to me to come back.

I suppose Tommy wasn’t used to being disturbed during his rages, because his first response when I came up to him was to stare at me for a second, then carry on as before. It was like he was doing Shakespeare and I’d come up onto the stage in the middle of his performance. Even when I said: “Tommy, your nice shirt. You’ll get it all messed up,” there was no sign of him having heard me.

So I reached forward and put a hand on his arm. Afterwards, the others thought he’d meant to do it, but I was pretty sure it was unintentional. His arms were still flailing about, and he wasn’t to know I was about to put out my hand. Anyway, as he threw up his arm, he knocked my hand aside and hit the side of my face. It didn’t hurt at all, but I let out a gasp, and so did most of the girls behind me.

That’s when at last Tommy seemed to become aware of me, of the others, of himself, of the fact that he was there in that field, behaving the way he had been, and stared at me a bit stupidly.

“Tommy,” I said, quite sternly. “There’s mud all over your shirt.”

“So what?” he mumbled. But even as he said this, he looked down and noticed the brown specks, and only just stopped himself crying out in alarm. Then I saw the surprise register on his face that I should know about his feelings for the polo shirt.

“It’s nothing to worry about,” I said, before the silence got humiliating for him. “It’ll come off. If you can’t get it off yourself, just take it to Miss Jody.”

He went on examining his shirt, then said grumpily: “It’s nothing to do with you anyway.”

He seemed to regret immediately this last remark and looked at me sheepishly, as though expecting me to say something comforting back to him. But I’d had enough of him by now, particularly with the girls watching—and for all I knew, any number of others from the windows of the main house. So I turned away with a shrug and rejoined my friends.

Ruth put an arm around my shoulders as we walked away. “At least you got him to pipe down,” she said. “Are you okay? Mad animal.”

Meet the Author

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954 and now lives in London, England. Each of his understated, finely wrought novels has been published to international acclaim. He was in both of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists anthologies, and won the Booker Prize at thirty-four for Remains of the Day.

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Never Let Me Go 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 797 reviews.
poosie More than 1 year ago
This amazing, intriguing novel really works the mind and is intricately plotted and very well thought-out. A group of human clones are trapped in a society devoid of moral conscience. The characters grow, blossom, fight and love. There are so many human emotions to deal with. At one level this is a deeply moving and sad love story told by a young woman, the sole survivor of a love triangle. At another level, it's an accumulative horror story. In a special boarding school where, in total isolation, they are being prepared for an early death by organ donation to the terminally ill. The plot is rather simple, a woman in her 30s starts recalling her youth at this boarding school after meeting up again with an old friend and her friend's ex-boyfriend, who she had a crush on. Through her work, she cares for both of them and learns more about why they were born, and what is in store for them. There is sorrow, poignancy, mystery and suspense, not to mention totally unique!
Nikkayme More than 1 year ago
The thing about Never Let Me Go is that it is best to go in completely blind. I had no clue what the book was about, I wanted to see the movie, so I figured I'd read the book first. Going in blind about the plot, about the entire novel, made it that much better for me. Told by Kathy, a thirty one year old 'carer,' in reverent back and forth memories from her present to all the tiny, yet meaningful moments that spattered her life in the past, makes the book feel very conversational which makes it more personal; like Kathy is reliving her past with the reader. She recalls her days at Hailsham, the boarding school that she shared with others like her; with Tommy and Ruth, her two closest friends. Getting to know these three is like getting reacquainted with an old friend, but the fact that they are special never eludes the reader. The plot for the book is not hard to guess once you begin reading it. The hints about what is going on are not very subtle at all, but the execution of getting to the final reveal is done so beautifully and delicately. Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy's fate is inevitable. They know it, but we, as readers, will understand it more than they ever seem to. We are the ones who feel the ache of innocence lost and the heartbreak of the future to come. Life, love, and death are all monumental moments in our lives, but this book tackles the brevity of life and the notion that we are stuck in our roles, in the lives that have already been forged for us. Hailsham students have a purpose and it may not be one we are all comfortable with. Ishiguro goes beyond the loss of innocence and makes you question the meaning of life, who deserves it, and just how large a role fate plays in life. Never Let Me Go is a powerful, moving portrait of humanity at its best and worst; with all the splendor of childhood innocence and the harsh reality of the cruelties the world has to offer. It's not simply a book about human mortality and loss; it is about the nature of human beings and the ethical dilemmas that could easily arise in the world we are developing. This book will make you feel something and only the best ones can do it so well. It's been hailed as the best novel of the decade and I can only agree because this is truly a masterpiece. Opening line(s): My name is Kathy H. I'm thirty-one years old, and I've been a carer now for over eleven years. ~ pg. 3 Favorite lines/passages (I've got two): "One day, maybe not so long from now, you'll get to know how it feels." So you're waiting, even if you don't quite know it, waiting for the moment when you realise that you really are different to them; that there are people out there, like Madame, who don't hate you or wish you any harm, but who nevertheless shudder at the very thought of you - of how you were brought into this world and why - and who dread the idea of your hand brushing against theirs. ~ pg. 36 And this one: It never occurred to me that our lives, until then so closely interwoven, could unravel and separate over a thing like that. But the fact was, I suppose, there were powerful tides tugging us apart by then, and it only needed something like that to finish the task. If we'd understood that back then - who knows? - maybe we'd have kept a tighter hold of one another. ~ pg. 197
ScarlettTe More than 1 year ago
To start off, this book is not about clones, or stem cell research. I cringe when I read reviews that focus only on the Sci-Fi aspect of this book. IT'S NOT ABOUT THAT! If that was the only thing you noticed about this book, then you only read it superficially. The reason everything surrounding the clones and program was so laid out for the reader, was so he or she could focus on other, more pertinent points of the book. The author is not trying to make a point of whether or not something such as these 'clones' is ethical, but the book is supposed to provoke you into thinking of humanity, and how you live your life. This book, by the end, will make you want to have someone to talk through the book with, to better comprehend and realize the majesty of this great novel. It's also necessary to point out to the reader that the author is Japanese (though also English). Therefore his story does not have the Northern American "can-do" attitude. Many readers argue that the students should have rebeled, and escaped their fate. That's what any U.S. citizen would have done. But, in Japan, it is thought more noble and heroic to accept your fate. You can kick and buck against this novel, but it's useless. Never Let Me Go is a beautifully worded, thoughtful book. I GREATLY recommend this book to anyone who is over the best-selling fluff out today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What makes this book a page-turner (I read it in two-days) is the way the author lets the details of the story unfold so gradually, constantly making the reader want to know more. The book is very well written, and though I've not read anything else of Ishiguro's, my interest in his work has been piqued by this novel. My only complaint is the rushed ending, which seems rather staged and hollow, not at all in keeping with the rest of the book. Still, a fascinating read, incredible subject matter (I won't give anything away, because for me, at least, it was perfect going into this read with no preconceived ideas) and a must on your bedside reading table!
fL0ssi3 More than 1 year ago
This book was an absolutely devastating read. I knew after the first or second chapter exactly what the "reveal" was, but it isn't a story meant to conclude when you learn what happens behind the curtain. It also isn't science fiction, which, upon learning the substance of what challenges the characters, one would assume it to be. It's hard to pigeon-hole it as anything definite - neither political, dramatic, etc; it seems, instead, to explore a number of themes. The story itself has a life and no life can really be explained away as being mono-thematic. I was particularly disturbed after finishing the book, having never felt such sadness and loss after reading something. It was a loss that seemed irreconcilable and irredeemable, and I didn't know quite how to feel about it. I had a lot of questions that I felt were purposely ignored, that bothered me throughout the book, and yet that didn't seem to ruin the story for me. I think the question that will pop up for whomever decides to read this - where is the survival instinct? how are these people so expressive in their humanity, and yet without the will to escape? - is meant to leave you feeling the way you do, as you can assume it probably leaves the characters you are reading about feeling the very same way. There is the question of nature versus nurture (are we born believing we possess certain rights innately? or is this something we are taught? are we born to believe we must strive to live on and on, even if someone tells you that is not the case, from the very moment you are born?) and the question, cliched as it seems, of what it means to be human, but more importantly, what it means to live, what is a life, what events define it, what must occur for one to definitively say "I have lived a life in full."
Monica Escobar More than 1 year ago
Felt like I was waiting for something that never happened. Confusing at times regarding organ donation since he leaves a lot of it to inference. Mostly slow. Wouldn't recommend, but watching the movie helps answer some questions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NEVER LET ME GO stands out as one of the most remarkable books I have ever read. It is difficult to say whether this book is sci-fi or plain fiction. Whatever, it is unique in the sense that it would satisfies any high-minded reader who is versed with present day developments and what could happen in the future. The lesson learnt is that the meaning of life is best achieved when we find joy, joy which comes from the soul. That joy from the soul surpasses blind faith, unsubstantiated materialism and an idealistic purpose of life that is based on discrimination. Ishiguro successfully weaved this story through characters that we can easily relate to, characters who in their pathetic states mirror man at the height of his false sense of achievement. In its portrayal of the futility of life, I got reminded of Disciples of Fortune, Frankenstein. This is a recommended read for a deep-thinking person.
VAshby More than 1 year ago
I truly wanted to like this novel... However, it reads like it was written by a fifth grader and is a series of very boring recollections of their childhood. All the "stories" are mundane and trivial... ruining a favorite shirt, loosing a cassette tape and where did my friend get their new pencil case. I kept waiting and hoping for it to get better (I like to give every book a chance) but it just didn't. I was skimming after the first 10 pages... Don't bother.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first heard about the movie then learned it was adapted from a novel so I thought I read it first. It was an interesting novel, definitely never read anything like it before. The ending was sad, though for some reason I couldnt get attached to the novel, I found myself at times forcing myself to read it because I wasnt really into it. But still a nicely done book.
sfsd More than 1 year ago
Other readers have more endurance than I do. Got through 100 pages and couldn't go any further. Nothing about any of the characters made me care about them or want to read another word.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
Never Let Me Go is the sixth novel by Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro. It is narrated in an almost conversational style by Kathy H., a thirty-one-year-old carer. Kathy reflects back on her life so far: her childhood at Hailsham School, a transitional period at The Cottages with her closest friends from Hailsham, and her working life caring for donors. In many ways, Hailsham resembles a typical English boarding school, giving its residents a sheltered upbringing, although it is soon apparent that this is no ordinary academic institution, and these students are, in fact, destined for a vastly different fate. Kathy’s narration concentrates on interactions between the students themselves and with their guardians, dwelling on incidents, conversations and reactions; it sounds, for a woman of her age, quite immature. It may have been shortlisted for the 2005 Man Booker Prize, and has been described as brilliant. Never the less, some readers will find the characters unappealing and the whole execution rather tedious.
StacieRosePittard More than 1 year ago
A short and easy read, yet very enjoyable. There was never a point where I felt bored, and I was practically glued to the pages as I tried to gather more and more clues as to the mystery of what was taking place in this dystopia-like society. Although it was very simple, I felt that my emotions were significantly impacted, which I love in books. The only criticism I had was that the writing style was not a particular favorite of mine. It read more like young adult fiction than I prefer, but the overall story made up for it. Every now and then it was hard to keep up with what the narrator was talking about, since it tended to switch focus rather quickly, but whenever that happened it was easy to get back on track. I'd say it's worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is crushing in a way that will have you thinking for a very long time. How much of who we are is moulded by our culture? Individual freedom is a fantasy? Very disturbing and much more than cloning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book i am about to be a freshmen and 1 book was a requirement to read so I choose this book because the cover looked interesting and when I got into it I actually stared liking it and I must say this book is for 13 year old and up I recomend it to you guys I know it seems ife to get but trust you will like it :p
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish I hadn't watched the movie first I think the mystery would have been really good if i hadn't known all the little secrets already. I love this book it is so haunting and really puts perspective on life and living it. It is dark and moving book that has left an impression. Read it...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this for a college english class and i absolutely loved this read. It will have you asking the same question brought about through Frankenstein: "what does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to one another based on our own premise of humanity?" I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good psychological read, or anyone who wants an interesting yet concept challenging novel in their collection.
MaximusTheGreat More than 1 year ago
This book reminds me a lot of the Giver, at least what I can remember of that book back in elementary school. Overall, Never Let Me Go is a very impressive narrative that hooks you. The characters are fantastic, and the details of this possible future are revealed at the perfect pace.
jenpalombi More than 1 year ago
Never Let Me Go is a somewhat surreal novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, the award-winning author of The Remains of the Day. It is an unusual tale told in the first-person by a 30-something woman named Kathy. Kathy reminisces throughout its pages about growing up as a young person in Hailsham, an unusual boarding school for "special" children. Here, the children have no parents, no last names and only a shadowy understanding of what it is that makes them so "special," yet they are continually reminded of their uniqueness by their guardians. Health and creativity are strongly encouraged, a mysterious woman periodically appears to take away the students' best art and one troubled teacher seems to want to tell the children more. but cannot bring herself to do so. Meanwhile, the author does a splendid job of relating the mundane complexities of juvenile friendship, bonding and growth so familiar to any reader. The central characters are well-developed and the small details of their inexplicably sheltered lives keep the reader turning the pages with enthusiasm. Never Let Me Go is a well-told story that quickly draws the reader in to an atypical world that is, at the same time, very ordinary as it follows the familiar trials and growing pains of a small group of young people passing from childhood to adulthood. Any reader will doubtless identify with the commonplace details of the lives of these seemingly typical children. Yet a sense of secrecy and an implied ominous fate hang over the entire narrative, only to eventually lead the reader to a revelation of just how atypical these young people really are. Ultimately, the reader is challenged to consider the lines between scientific progress and scientific ethics, between what is right and what is wrong in the preservation of our very lives. Sometimes touted as a modern mystery, Never Let Me Go is unlike any mystery in the traditional sense. The mystery here lies in the journey of self-discovery upon which the three central characters, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, embark, as they grow up together and progress with their peers toward the fulfillment of their unusual purpose in life. In other words, the mystery lies not in "whodunit?", but in "what does it all mean?". The final unveiling of these answers, while bordering on science fiction, may leave the reader feeling a little empty. This is perhaps partly because the author is a bit heavy-handed with his earlier cues and partly because a lot of questions remain unanswered. But the reader will likely forgive this in thanks for an otherwise flowing and engaging read, full of well-crafted characters caught up in a somewhat disturbing tale. This review originally appeared in both the Midwest Book Review and on The Lit Witch: A Book Blog.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Expertly crafted and paced, NEVER LET ME GO is nothing like the other author's book, REMAINS OF THE DAY. I loved the character development and way that all the people reacted to situations. It was at once real and at the same time atmospheric and surreal.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book,in addition to being boring and repetitious, is extremely derivative. Furthermore, it takes a stance on an issue, cloning, that requires complex consideration. I am sure that if Mr. Ishiguro had relatives or close associates who might benefit from stem cell research, that he might have reconsidered his approach to this trendy topic. If you want literate science fiction, read Margaret Atwood or Doris Lessing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Required to read Never Let Me Go for a book club, I began reading Monday and finished Wednesday. Lest I give the impression the book was a page turner, it was not. I found the early years of the children overloaded with endless details. Without arousing curiosity as to why the children's daily lives and art participation are such big deals, the story drags endlessly on. The few adult years are less detailed, but at least more interesting. A more dramatic ending might have helped. Instead, the author abandons the main characters, one by one, leaving the reader to dangle in a vacuum of 'completion'.
YlvaSchauster 9 months ago
This book brought me to tears. And I loved every page of it. I had to read this book for a seminar at my university, I had never before heard of it. And I have never read a book at school or at university that moved me to tears. Ishiguro's style of writing is rather calm and unexcited which makes the dystopian society feel very unexceptional. I quickly found myself agreeing and identifying with Kathy. Instead of wanting the system to collaps, I was more moved by the trivial things. I felt with Kathy and Tommy on every page. Appearantly, many people don't like the end, but for me, it fits perfectly and it is of course a little sad, but a happy ending wouldn't really make sense regarding the rest of the novel. I would recommend this book to everyone who would like to read an unusual and moving dystopian story.
Stephen_Sottolano More than 1 year ago
This was such a wonderful book its seems unjust to pigeonhole it with any labels. Full of mystery and mood, it's at once a dystopian novel and a coming of age story. The plot is driven by the narrator's recollection of her days at an exclusive English boarding school where the children are well cared for by a dedicated and nurturing staff. Ishuguro's setting however belies a harshness outside and beyond the school for the principal characters, all of which are sympathetically rendered. Evocative and enigmatic, this book will reach you on several different levels and stay with you forever. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A moving story, set in the 1990's, of three youth, Kath, Tommy and Ruth, who form family for each other, their memories of growing up in their school their only real history. Underscoring their exchanges, is a profound allegiance to each other, crippled from time to time with a desperation to known, chosen and loved. Yet, despite these longings, and powerless to alter the ultimate destinies for which they were created, they conduct themselves with the highest of values. I found myself recognizing certain personalities who've controlled and hurt me, but to whom I was pathologically loyal until I too grew out of that complex. To use the words of the author, this book is "...like walking past a mirror you walked past every day of your life, and suddenly is shows you something else, something, troubling and strange." Riveting! Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife
Anonymous More than 1 year ago