Never Let Me Go
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Product Description

All children should believe they are special. But the students of Hailsham, an elite school in the English countryside, are so special that visitors shun them, and only by rumor and the occasional fleeting remark by a teacher do they discover their unconventional origins and strange destiny. Kazuo Ishiguro's sixth novel, Never Let Me Go, is a masterpiece of indirection. Like the students of Hailsham, readers are "told but not told" what is going on and should be allowed to discover the secrets of Hailsham and the truth about these children on their own.

Offsetting the bizarreness of these revelations is the placid, measured voice of the narrator, Kathy H., a 31-year-old Hailsham alumna who, at the close of the 1990s, is consciously ending one phase of her life and beginning another. She is in a reflective mood, and recounts not only her childhood memories, but her quest in adulthood to find out more about Hailsham and the idealistic women who ran it. Although often poignant, Kathy's matter-of-fact narration blunts the sharper emotional effects you might expect in a novel that deals with illness, self-sacrifice, and the severe restriction of personal freedoms. As in Ishiguro's best-known work, The Remains of the Day, only after closing the book do you absorb the magnitude of what his characters endure. --Regina Marler

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.

Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is another classic by the author of The Remains of the Day

Customer Reviews:

  • Excellent moral to story...frustrating book to get through
    I was excited to read this book, having read all the reviews and the note on the cover that it was a Man Booker finalist. This book was interesting until you started to get an idea about what Halisham School was about. At this point you're waiting for something to happen, but it never does. Just endless situations these Halisham students, Ruth, Tommy and Kath find themselves in that, to me, did not advance the story or create suspense. I got bored with the droning narrative. By the time I reached the climatic meeting between the Kath, Tommy and Madame, it was like FINALLY. This was an anticlimax, because nothing new was revealed that you didn't already suspect. The most interesting chapters were the end. It was quite touching to have Tommy and Ruth's fate revealed. The best part of the book was that it made you think about the moral consequences of eugenics. People have souls and should not be used as "parts" to advance science, even if it can saves lives, because ultimatley there is always a death of a human, whether donor or patient. For this message, I'm grateful to the author....more info
  • a flawed, over-cooked yet well written piece of science fiction
    'Never Let Me Go' is a curious piece of literature that ultimately fails yet contains many provocative elements that are deftly written (Ishiguro seemingly cannot write a bad sentence). The book takes place in the second half of this century where human cloning is permitted as a means of having a regular replacement organ supply available (for transplantation). There are camps where cloned individuals are raised for the purpose of providing organ donations which, inevitably, kills the clone. The author does a creditable job of laying out this macabre look at the future without being too obvious about it. Unfortunately I had a hard time believing that such a future would really happen. Beyond this, the author spends way too much time on the romances and heartache of clone love triangle. The characters were dull and, except for the lead character (the narrator), not well drawn. And so ultimately I didn't know if Ishiguro was writing a story about confused individuals suffering from constipated emotions or a story about the dangers of human cloning.


    Bottom line: kind of interesting, weird and messy. Perhaps best left to Ishiguro fans....more info
  • Different, but good.
    Although this isn't a book that I would pick out of the shelf to read on my own, it was recommended by my English teacher, and I was able to read it as part of an assignment.
    At first I didn't enjoy the first part of the book because it had a very slow begining and Kazuo Ishiguro likes to keep the reader in question about what it is that is going on in the book. But as the book continues to evolve you start understanding what is going on between the three main characters which are involved in a triangle-shaped friendship.
    Once you reach a certain point of the book where everything is making sense and is unraveling, you get interested in the book, and it's one of those that you don't want to put down, because you wanna see what's going to happen next.
    The book is mainly about the exploitation of clones and what would happen if we focused on technology and did such a thing, which most people are probably against. It tells the story of a "carer", Kathy, and she shares with us her experience as a child and as she grows up and shares many experiences with Ruth, her dominating friend, and Tommy her "best-guy" friend. The book is full of surprises, and for those of you that have seen the movie, "the Island" it is very similar to it, and if you like science fiction and things like that, I really recommend this book, its a fast, easy read. This book is mostly meant for more adults because of the content that it has, that many parents may not want their younger children to read. ...more info
  • Won't ever fade
    "...complaining about how memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don't go along with that. The memories I value most, I don't see them ever fading. I lost Ruth, and I lost Tommy, but I won't lose my memories of them."

    For a novel that packs so much broiling emotion in theme and plot, it's surprising that among so many waiting-to-boil paragraphs, this relatively tame passage are the most impactful words in the whole novel. The rest are very controlled, bordering on the absurd. From a title that is very strong... the novel goes on a very timed and restrained prose. In the dispassionate text, you'll want a volcano that is about to explode, but it never happens... AND THAT's WHERE THE MAGIC IS.

    Perhaps it's the natural style by Ishiguro to deliver broiling emotion by leaving 80% unsaid. And since the narrative is first person, it is perfect for the protagonist's grab for empathy from us readers. The injustice, wrongness, and sadness of it all carries on on how Kathy presents their ultimately-oppressed lives, like natural, reality, everyday news.

    This novel is also relatively short compared with other of Ishiguro's work. It seems like a quick read, but the other review is correct in saying that it stays on you for a long time afterwards.

    Just suspend your Science, Social, and Governmental Regulations clamors (arguing against how realistic the novel is), and enjoy how great Literature can be with novels like this.

    Very sad, yes, but how can you widen perspective with just happy endings?
    ...more info
  • it's actually a horror story;
    just a warning: if you don't like horror stories (as I do not), don't read this book, because that's what it is. I love Remains of the Day, so I don't know what happened to Ishiguro here. Writer's block, or a book contract to be fulfilled with something, probably......more info
  • heartbreaking and frustrating
    The concept for this novel is utterly original--it is a book difficult to describe without giving away too much of the plot. Instead, you have to dive in knowing nothing and let Ishiguro suck you into a magnificently rendered but horrific secret world. This book is many things--a thwarted love story, a comment on society, a series of disturbing moral questions. I love almost everything Ishiguro does, but this book is perhaps my favorite....more info
  • Urgency brings out the meaning and passion in life - read this book
    *** NO SPOILERS - EXCEPT THAT THERE ARE NO WEREWOLVES IN THIS BOOK ***

    I first heard of this book when it appeared as the most recent novel on TIME's 100 Greatest English-Language Novels list. So I read a description, "Children growing up in a nursing home... something's not right..." It sounded intriguing, so I gave it a whirl.

    Regardless of what that 'sinister' thing is, it's merely a device to put more urgency on the rest of the events in the novel. And since the rest of the novel is a bunch of subtle and poetic observations and meditations on life and relationships as channeled through the lives and experiences of a group of friends, that makes the book a layered treasure trove of allusions to our own pains and joys.

    The last thing you should know is that this book is gloomy; it's an elegy. I might even say it's lugubrious, but that's probably me injecting humor just to protect myself from the monumental sadness.

    I don't know if I liked this book. But I will never regret reading it.

    *** OK - A LAST MINUTE SPOILER ***

    One nagging annoyance I have is why the characters rose to meet their fates, but not to change them entirely. Perhaps it's just Ishiguro's commentary on life coming through, perhaps it's something else. But they were all WAAAAAAAY too resigned to play by the system's rules....more info
  • A Novel Menagerie's Perspective on Never Let Me Go
    The Story Line


    Kathy ("Kath") is a "carer." What, you ask, may that be? A carer is one who takes care of organ donors while they are recuperating. She is the narrator of this novel and shares with the reader her history at a school called Hailsham, located in England's countryside. At Hailsham, Kath is an observant young girl and very sensitive to the feelings of those around her. Her two closest friends are Tommy and Ruth, who eventually couple-up. Despite this coupling, Kath maintains a level of feelings for Tommy.

    Kathy also recounts her time at The Cottages, where a portion of the students from Hailsham went to live upon their graduation from Hailsham. At The Cottages, these "special" students learn more from life experience than from the books they read at Hailsham. This is a time for them to form couples, learn to drive, and make some minor decisions about their future.

    My Review

    Confused? Yeah, I was too until I was 1/2-way into the book! I've read wonderful reviews of this book where the story-line is carefully avoided and a proper review conducted. The best review I've located on this book is at Books on the Brain and I believe that she liked this book. SPOIL ALERT: I'm not going to dance around the story line in this review. So, if you'd like a review which keeps the storyline well protected for future readers, click on over to Books on the Brain and read Lisa's review. Don't return to mine.

    What I am most disappointed about was the lack of what could have been great content to this story. Here's the premise... humans are being "created" in laboratories to serve as organ donors. As they are created in a lab, it is my impression that they are viewed as non-human and "soul-less." After some time had passed, some felt that it was their duty to pull the more "gifted" donors from these labs/farms and raise them in a protected environment in which they could have some semblance of a childhood and young adulthood. All the while, they would be schooled to the fact of what their life purpose was to be... to be an organ donor for the "real humans" (you know, us, the one with souls!). Ugh.

    Let's start with what I did like. The premise of the book is a good one. It's highly thought provoking. I mean, what is it exactly that makes us human? When does God breathe a soul into us? What are the characteristics of human nature that reflect that we have souls and aren't just these electrically charged mechanisms with the ability to have critical thinking? Another thought... is the life of one worth less than the life of another? And, then there's the question of what makes a life complete? What needs to happen in your life for it to be complete, for your life to be exhausted?

    Stay with me. Here's why I didn't like the book. With such an AMAZING premise, much could have been done with this book. This book could have been written with such depth. But, for me, it was BORING. Perhaps if the reader didn't have to get 1/2 way into the book to understand what the book was about, it may have meant more while reading it. To me, this book was "soul-less." The characters were too shallow for me and their motives confusing. The author tries to incorporate a test by which the "guardians" of these donor children of Hailsham would show they actually had souls. They did this by judging their art and poetry. What? So, if I suck at art, I have no soul? Whatever!

    The author gets into details about the donors' sexuality, but never explains why it is that they can't have children. I mean, if they can grow lungs and a spleen, why not an uterus? Are they "fixed" at birth/creation? If so, why? The book never really divulges how these donors derived from their "models," which I found disappointing.

    I think that I could go on for days about what I didn't like about this book. For the positives about it... it did have a thought-intriguing story line (once you understood it). The book was well-written. Oh... that's it for me!

    On Sher's "Out of Ten Scale":


    As you can summarize from the review, this book was NOT my cup of tea. But, one person who reviewed it made a comment on Lisa's review. She stated that this seemed to be the type of book where you either loved it or hated it. I didn't actually "hate" it. But, I definitely did not love it. Let's just say that I would have rather cleaned out the hall closet than read this book. And, I despise my hall closet. Strictly from my PERSONAL viewpoint, I am awarding this book for the genre Fiction: (God Knows What SubGenre), a 5 out of 10.

    ...more info
  • Sensitive, ultimately credible
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is a compelling portrait of people on the downside of a dystopia. Like Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale or J G Ballard's Kingdom come, Never Let me Go is built around an abhorrent aspect of social organisation. Crucially, in all three books, the focus of the subject matter is merely an extension of a facet of our own society. Fertility issues provide the material for The Handmaid's Tale, while brainless consumerism fuelled Kingdom Come. Kazuo Ishiguro's subject matter has a medical focus that provides an essentially more credible idea than either of the two other works mentioned. Eventually Ballard's vision cannot be maintained by his scant material, whereas Margaret Atwood's is strengthened by the credibility of its own downside. Ishiguro's story line is strong enough in itself to maintain interest, credibility and drama from start to finish. There is real humanity in this story.

    The book begins in Hailsham, an obviously special school set in an idyllic corner of the English countryside. But this is clearly no ordinary education. We follow the fortunes of three of its students, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. We see them grow up, make their fumbling transformation from childhood to adolescence and then embark upon the stuttering unpredictability of young adulthood. Hailsham's students have to learn how to deal with their own shortcomings and how to manage their talents. They must cope with sometimes strained relations with their teachers, especially in the area of reconciling what they want to do versus what seems to be demanded of them, and thus what they are allowed to attempt. They become aware of sex and introduce themselves to its world in their own ways at different times, each of them reacting differently to their experience.

    So what makes these people so special? Well, for a start they live protected lives. They never appear to need any money, nor possessions, for that matter, what little they do have being recycled ad infinitum via a system of almost formal barter. They seem to be protected from fashion, consumerism, family break-up, mass media and even street life. Surely there is something strange about them, despite their apparently normal physical, mental and psychological characteristics.

    Not until about half way through the book does the reader start to fill in the blanks. But by the end the dreadful picture is complete, and rendered even more frightening by its complete credibility. To find out the nature of the plot, you will have to read the book, but, though I have stressed the importance of the overall concept's contribution to the book's success, it is not the subject matter that makes this a superb novel. It is the characterisation, the empathy that the reader develops with Kathy and Tommy and the sympathy that their tragedy eventually engenders. The context served to amplify these responses, not blur or confuse them. It is this quality that makes never Let Me Go a completely memorable and highly moving read.


    ...more info
  • Excellent, Morally Challenging Story
    Great science fiction presents worlds that have resonance with our own. Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go draws these parallels both physically and morally. The basics of the plot have been recounted (and perhaps spoiled) in many reviews here, so I won't recount it again.

    Never Let Me Go is a story with a secret revealed as each successive chapter peels back layer upon layer the stories of kids who attend a special school for certain special youth in England. The pace is leisurely to the point of being laconic. Ishiguro's prose reads more like romance than science fiction; his voice is unique and refreshing for the genre. Each of the three main characters is fully formed, and each has his or her own special point of view. Each handles his or her own existential journey uniquely.

    The story is morally challenging; I won't go into great detail to avoid spoilers. What I found brilliant about Never Let Me Go is that the reader is morally challenged with each character and the social setting. How the characters meet their fates I felt was especially challenging.

    The book didn't rate five stars with me for two reasons, however. First, the chapters have a rather formulaic structure which wore on me after a while. Second, the laconic pace, though filled with beautiful prose, helped reduce rather than heighten the sense of urgency I thought the characters should have felt late in the book.

    Nevertheless, Never Let Me Go is a touching, poignant, outstanding work worth your reading hours. I highly recommend it....more info
  • Won't ever fade
    "...complaining about how memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don't go along with that. The memories I value most, I don't see them ever fading. I lost Ruth, and I lost Tommy, but I won't lose my memories of them."

    For a novel that packs so much broiling emotion in theme and plot, it's surprising that among so many waiting-to-boil paragraphs, this relatively tame passage are the most impactful words in the whole novel. The rest are very controlled, bordering on the absurd. From a title that is very strong... the novel goes on a very timed and restrained prose. In the dispassionate text, you'll want a volcano that is about to explode, but it never happens... AND THAT's WHERE THE MAGIC IS.

    Perhaps it's the natural style by Ishiguro to deliver broiling emotion by leaving 80% unsaid. And since the narrative is first person, it is perfect for the protagonist's grab for empathy from us readers. The injustice, wrongness, and sadness of it all carries on on how Kathy presents their ultimately-oppressed lives, like natural, reality, everyday news.

    This novel is also relatively short compared with other of Ishiguro's work. It seems like a quick read, but the other review is correct in saying that it stays on you for a long time afterwards.

    Just suspend your Science, Social, and Governmental Regulations clamors (arguing against how realistic the novel is), and enjoy how great Literature can be with novels like this. Very sad, yes, but how can you widen perspective with just happy endings?
    ...more info
  • Intriguing, well crafted and engaging work by master
    Rivalling Aldous Huxley and others in terms of ideas and the themes of slavery, consumerism, science, medicine, art ... but I go on and don't mean to. Let's just say this work is ripe for appreciation by senior high school students so rich is it. More telling though is the skill of the writer in creating a credible voice for a 31 year old woman, and making that character believable, worth caring for, and interesting. In doing so the writer manifests one of the interesting themes himself by creating a meaningfulwork of art, a goal so desperately sought by the tragic figure of Tommy in his drawings of animals. A terrific read....more info
  • A strange, moving little book
    It's tough to describe this novel without giving too much away. Just like the author seems to find it enjoyable to spend the first third of the book teasing us with hints about the lives of a group of teenagers at a boarding school called Hailsham. They seem like normal teens, except no one talks about their parents or home life, or what came before Hailsham. No one. Never. And no one knows what faces them after they leave the school. And then Ishiguro finally lays it out for us. It was kind of like what I suspected, I think, but it was enough of a surprise to make me want to follow their lives to the fast approaching conclusion. They do have a purpose to their lives, but it's a tough, heart-wrencing one. One of the characters, Ruth, states emphatically that they are all modeled on trash: junkies, prostitutes, winos, and tramps. And she and her friends Tommy and Kath try to get some answers for themselves. But then, after Hailsham they are divided into two separate categories with very pre-determined outcomes. But, that would be telling. Read it for yourself. I believe it will be a rewarding experience. And maybe a precursor of what is ahead for the human race. ...more info
  • Loved it
    One of my favorite recent sci-fi books. Ishiguro's book particularly appeals to me because of his subtlety. ...more info
  • An Engaging, Melancholy Allegory
    Okay, this is not a perfect book, but it is well worth the time. And the reviewers who complain about "plot holes" (i.e. Why didn't they just leave?) miss what is so heartbreaking about the story: escaping their fate never even occurs to the students. Their biggest dream is deferring donations for a few years (not avoiding them completely), which speaks to how well they have been indoctrinated. Even the "do-gooders" don't want to save the clones, just make their life more acceptable until their time comes.

    The clones' life is in many ways an extreme version of the average humans' life, given that everyone must grow up, grow apart from friends, and in many ways, do what we "should" do. Like a lot of great sci-fi, Never Let Me Go presents an allegory that throws into relief universal issues: love, friendship, memory, childhood, social and familial obligations, aging and dying. This is not to say that the book is ponderous and heavy. It is an engaging page turner that makes you think and may make you cry.
    ...more info
  • His best book yet, a new departure, a new Ishiguro
    I have read 4 or 5 of Ishiguro's novels and for me this one was much bigger, fuller, more alive in its scope and humanity than the ones before (and even before I thought he was one of the best authors of our time, equalled, to me, only by Anne Michaels, although I haven't formally studied English).

    Whilst all the books I have read were in the first person, in this one he manages to use, for me, the first person almost as a third person window on events, even though the voice is always in the dark, looking for answers to the questions that maybe we are all looking for answers to. This "third person window" is not all-knowing as they sometimes are, but has a detached, not-giving answers aspect and feels therefore powerful, frightening, tension creating, demanding you read on.

    In previous books the narrator's characters and "flaws" seem to frame their engagement with their lives and therefore the outcomes of the books. In this book, it is the narrator's lack of knowledge and age, and how these interact (and how you see her as young and in the hands of something bigger, of which she is only slowly aware) which moves the plot and the reader's desire to "find out" what this bigger thing is.

    Whereas in previous books, the narrators seem quite particular people, in this the narrator seems so normal, the way her childhood is somehow simultaneously experienced and recalled seems, to me, the way I experience the remembering of my growing up, the way I am always re-visiting, re-making my memories in my trying to understand things which I seem to always have felt to some extent I didn't understand, influences on me which were bigger and hidden.

    It was the achievement of this sensation which made the book outstanding for me, the plot being a vehicle for it. But the plot is very very gripping in itself, and when you do "find out", the answers definately do not dissapoint the tension which has created the desire to know, something I maybe felt with one of Ishiguro's previous books....more info
  • A slow read but of high literary importance

    Warning: Contains Spoilers and Plot details

    The novel, Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro is a tale of a future dystopian society, which we may face due to our excessive nature of consuming. The setting takes place in Britain where the world is seemingly at peace with its military conflicts, but the consequences of violence mounts high when grave injuries and diseases threaten the fate of humanity. The solution... to breed clones for each human body ensures that for every wound there is a solution without fail. Yet, with the widespread acceptance of the human cloning industry, what does the human race think of its counterpart? Nothing. Although the answer is cruel and backlashes on every aspect of human morality, our instinct to survive desensitizes humans to guilt as someone may think after an organ operation, `Did I kill someone for this kidney?' or `Is there a part of myself that died without me ever knowing it?' Such thoughts can be a crippling blow to one's morale, yet since the process of cloning is such an efficient way to ensure survival, the human race allows it to flourish no matter what the cost.

    As the humans may see clones as expendable resources, yet there are some other reasons why they are not welcomed in society. Much like slaves and immigrants in the past, clones are considered to be "sub-humans" of this futuristic society. They are used then thrown away when they are no longer of use. One of the obvious differences that stand out about the clone, Kathy, is the misspelling of some of her words. She would spell civilize as "civilise" and realize as "realise." Although it is not a remarkable difference, society never fails to notice people's faults. Whenever an outsider makes an appearance, the people of society fear that he/she is a threat to their existence. Out of fear and ignorance, society criticizes anything that the outsider may do uncommonly; in this case, making a few spelling errors. As the slaughtering of clones continues, the question of whether or not they are human is raised. And to decide the debate, Hailsham steps forward. The students of Hailsham or clones are taught to be creative in the arts. Its operation was to prove that these clones were in fact human beings with souls, even though they were a "science experiment." However, no matter what Hailsham proves by having "students" create magnificent works, such as this book, humanity continues to bury itself in denial.

    Every student of Hailsham is told what their sole purpose in life is from infancy. For Kathy to mention this rather calmly it may come as a surprise to the reader. In fact, this is one of Ishiguro's main themes. When there is an aggressor that asserts its power, it is common for any animal, including humans, to be submissive to that aggressor. Why the students had not seen beyond the walls of Hailsham was to keep them like ants in an ant-farm. The forest is another method of keeping the students under control, considering that if they even dare so venture outside Hailsham they could die in the process. The unwritten rules had kept student from inquiring the mysterious ways and the weekly examinations made sure their organs were healthy when the transplants were to be made. Kathy's role as "peacekeeper" is an example of their mind control. If the guardians were to encourage individualism, then the students wouldn't be like lemmings and, follow who ever was in lead. Yet, the most shocking thing in this book is that the students have enough opportunities to leave and run for their lives, but do not. It seems easier just to stay and go with the flow and not revolt. The clones just give up and wait to die like cattle. This is the fine line where Ishiguro separates himself from other more "American" works, which encourage individualism such as the movie "The Island" or "I-Robot."

    Hailsham was both a prison and shelter. It was a separate community for the clones to grow and be treated like normal humans in a safe haven that shielded them from the outside world's prejudice. Nevertheless, Hailsham never let them forgot that their fate hung over their heads like a haunting shadow. And to make sure, every guardian, student, and unwritten rule subliminally kept them in line so that they may give up quietly and without fret. In doing so, these clones will submit their lives as human sacrifices for the survival of the human race.


    ...more info
  • A page-turner for the wrong reasons
    Being a writer myself, I have probably a different take on this book. I expected something different, having read the back cover and having seen Remains of the Day (the film). I have not read anything of Ishiguro's before, but I didn't like his style at all. I kept turning the pages because I wanted to see if I was missing something and, besides I was reading this for a reading group. I have to say, I found the style silly and pretentious. If I wanted to read a book with a Brave New World twist, I wouldn't have chosen this one....more info
  • Immensely Tragic, Heartrendingly Sad
    There are two reasons why the story of "Never Let Me Go" is stunningly sad, immensely and heart-wrenchingly tragic. First, it is the context of the advancement in selfish, irresponsible, dehumanizing genetic technology, hailed as the best hope for humanity to conquer diseases and aging, yet ironically at the expense of the dignity of humanity itself, and the many precious souls who are the products of this God-less brilliance; represented by the main characters in this book; Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. Here the bigger picture is a depraved inhumanity; wherein though seemingly "very good, more scientific, and more efficient" and I should add, "more pragmatic" from the outside according to "Madame," but in reality "a harsh and cruel world" (p.272). Second, it is the vivid exposure of the natural humaneness that Ishiguro displays so exquisitely in the lives of those who are the victims of this horrid inhumanity. The atrociousness is exacerbated precisely by this natural humanness springing up from their personality, aspirations, and shattered dreams, which is even more ironically more humane than those supposedly the "real" human beings who are responsible for their existence intended to supply spare parts. The implications of this novel are huge. It wakes us up and asks ourselves the question, "What is a human being and what is his or her dignity?" I echo what Chuck Colson said in his review, "I recommend this book for adults and older teens (there's some material here that is not suitable for younger children), and I encourage you to share it with people who don't fully understand the cloning issue. Never Let Me Go is a powerful work of art that, by impacting the imagination, reaches us at the deepest level, which is often more powerful than the best scientific and political arguments."
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  • Fitfully Good
    There's a moment in Never Let Me Go near the beginning, when Ruth invites Kath to play with her invisible horse, Bramble. "I accepted the invisible rein she was holding out," Kath says in Ishiguro's unshowy, almost titrated, prose, "and then we were off, riding up and down the fence, sometimes cantering, sometimes at a gallop. ... I don't know how long we spent with her horses that day: it felt a substantial time, and I think we both lost ourselves completely in our game." This seems to me a good enough metaphor for what any novel tries to do, and what Never Let Me Go manages to do only fitfully. The writer holds out to us the reins of an imaginary mount. Depending on the skill of the storytelling, we can either reject the offer or go along for the ride. It's an incredibly delicate spell, breakable at any moment by a lapse on either side and, once broken, rarely ever recast. Even if readers can't quite lose themselves completely in Ishiguro's game this time out, how can we not feel just as grateful next time, to saddle up behind an imagination so unbridled?...more info
  • Had Potential...
    When I had to choose a book to read from a list for my English class, this seemed like the most interesting one. When I read the back cover, it sounded really mysterious. I couldn't guess at all what it would be about. You don't actually find out what the book is about until about halfway into it. When I first started reading it, I was so confused, and it tempted me to put the book down. The author just kind of dives right into the story, without introducing characters or a storyline or anything; but that's what the whole book is- figuring everything out. I thought this book had a lot of potential. It was a really good concept, and different from other books about cloning. Once you learn that the characters are clones, though, the story kind of goes downhill. On top of that, without spoiling it, there is a relationship you're expecting to happen the entire time you're reading, and it's never carried out completely. The book wasn't boring, but I thought that overall it was disappointing....more info
  • A tearjerker that you won't be able to put down
    This unabashed tragedy is a subtle work of complete mastery. Ishiguro paints a melancholy picture of the future with careful strokes that leave the reader hoping against all odds that the protagonist will escape her fate. As I read this novel, I could feel the tension rise as Ishiguro gradually exposed his characters to their fate. As the dread of the inevitable increases in intensity, Ishiguro builds a counterbalancing sense of hope that somehow, just this once, tragedy will be averted.

    And even though this is a work of fiction, it is not hard to draw parallels to the fate of the impoverished, diseased, or otherwise afflicted untouchables that inhabit our world. Ishiguro introduces us to an imaginary world just beyond what we commonly see, and in so doing reminds us that much of our own prosperity is built on the bleached bones of the oppressed. The painful, short lives they lead are somehow similar to the lives of the characters in his novel. And the noble, stoic way they accept their fate is a testimony to the concepts of justice and fairness that we human creatures assume is our birthright.

    So sad! So true! Thankfully Ishiguro spares us from observing the final sequence. That is as close to a happy ending as this novel can deliver. We are left with a shred of hope....more info
  • The livestock's point of view
    * Some spoilers *

    This is an excellent, thoughtful, and disturbing novel written with minor sprinklings of science fiction. The sci-fi element really isn't important though, as it's just a very subtle background for a character-driven story from a point of view that we often ignore: the lambs, cows, and other animals that humans consume and use on a daily basis. A natural question that stems from this novel is why the 'students' don't just run away or rebel against the system? Well, why don't cows (or slaves) just run away? Because they've been domesticated to serve, and that's their entire life. It's saddening and disturbing to think that while the students are seemingly normal (filled with friendship, happiness, and sadness), their entire goal in life is be a good carer and a good donor before 'completing.' Even those characters that seem to have strong will and vent their frustrations (Ruth and Tommy) accept their lives without argument.

    Excellent story.


    ...more info
  • this book is misery.
    don't read past the first paragraph unless you want a spoiler. i am still in awe that i was able to finish this book. it was nothing like the back cover described and it was very dark with very no light to balance it out. and it was really flat. dark and flat is not a good combination.

    i didn't like how long it took to figure out what was going on at this boarding school. at first i was wondering if i was just ignorant of british lingo, but nope, it was indeed about growing human clones for the sole purpose of organ harvesting. i am fine with the meidcal science fiction (hey i like brave new world just as much as the next person) but the marketing here is misleading, and i guess i resent having to read this when i was expecting something else.

    i am so glad this book is now a part of my past. ...more info
  • I let it go in the Atlanta airport . .
    . . it might still be there if you want it. I didn't want to keep it, and -- ask any visitor -- I don't get rid of many books. I slogged through it on a 7-week business trip when I was so tired at night I could read only a few pages. Painfully slow and dreary (even for a fan of dystopian novels), soporific, with unsympathetic characters and the worst, most maddening schoolmate ever. Don't be tempted if you loved "Remains of the Day."

    The only other book I ever hated so much yet plowed through was "The Far Pavilions."...more info
  • B R I L L I A N T
    There are only two I can't stop think even years after I've read them and keep urging my friends to read as well: Atonement and Never Let Me Go. I know this book's subject may be hard for some to like but I think you have to try it for yourself and see. Don't trust other people's opinions on this, because though the subject may indeed be morbid, it's the way the story is written that wins you after all. When I read the book's back cover, I was prepared that perhaps I wouldn't be able to finish it but boy was I wrong! I couldn't let it off my hands. I loved Ishiguro's writing style, the original plot and the way this book had me thinking afterwards... Please do yourself a favor and try it out, but only if you're ready for something dark, emotional and heart engaging. If you're in the mood for something light, easy, beach type reading don't come near; you'll just hate it....more info
  • A Book to Make You Think
    This is a fascinating story and I recommend it to readers who aren't afraid to think about where science may be taking us and how important ethics are when faced with new scientific possibilities. It's a good read but prepare yourself to be shocked when you find out what's going on....more info
  • Will stay with you for days
    Haunting, yet devoid of gratuitous gruesomeness one would expect given the subject matter. Ishiguro plays all the emotional chords very well: this is possibly the least British (and most Japanese) of his books, and I think the comparison with Murakami's "Norwegian Wood" mood setting is inevitable. Original, masterfully done: I don't give him five stars just because the setting is one bit too artificial, and the author does not care about responding to some obvious questions any intelligent reader would come up with....more info
  • Let's Get Real
    I cannot share the enthusiasm for this novel that some have expressed here. In my view, Ishiguro's plot is thin, his characters are flat -- take a look at the large-eyed young woman represented on the cover: is she a robot, a Stepford wife of the English variety perhaps? -- to the point that they come across as mostly inhuman, and the author barely explores the ethical issue -- are there limits on the uses of science that society should respect? -- which he raises.

    Let's start with the open secret that this is a novel about cloned human beings. You will realize that long before the word "clones" is ever used, about twenty pages before the end, and that suggests a problem with the author's pacing or foreshadowing. The story is told from the point of view of Kathy, a young graduate of Hailsham (does that Dickensian name indicate the author's take on the ethical issue: will any good ever come from a sham?), an English boarding school now closed. Hailsham's students and graduates are unusually compliant souls. They do what they're told, which is strange considering that there is no mention of how they were socialized prior to their arrival at Hailsham. They accept their lot with a minimum of struggle or angst. Meanwhile, their "guardians" -- the teachers at Hailsham -- impose various rules, collect samples of the students' artwork for mysterious purposes, and wrestle with inner demons of their own.

    The elegiac mood which some have praised in this work stems from the inevitability of its central characters' barren lives. There is little dramatic tension or movement in the novel. Once the secret is formally revealed, the book just fades away. To me this is a weakness, not a strength.

    Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day was widely hailed -- there's that word again -- as a semi-outsider's rejection of the English class system and of its underlings' clinging to their place in society long after their place achieved any benefit for them. Never Let Me Go can be read for a similar subtext. Only a cruel and dying society would create human beings, with or without souls, to be exploited. For me there is too little insight in that vision, and Ishiguro's literary style is too unadorned to make up for his paucity of ideas. ...more info
  • Immensely Tragic, Heartrendingly Sad
    There are two reasons why the story of "Never Let Me Go" is stunningly sad, immensely and heart-wrenchingly tragic. First, it is the context of the advancement in selfish, irresponsible, dehumanizing genetic technology, hailed as the best hope for humanity to conquer diseases and aging, yet ironically at the expense of the dignity of humanity itself, and the many precious souls who are the products of this God-less brilliance; represented by the main characters in this book; Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. Here the bigger picture is a depraved inhumanity; wherein though seemingly "very good, more scientific, and more efficient" and I should add, "more pragmatic" from the outside according to "Madame," but in reality "a harsh and cruel world" (p.272). Second, it is the vivid exposure of the natural humaneness that Ishiguro displays so exquisitely in the lives of those who are the victims of this horrid inhumanity. The atrociousness is exacerbated precisely by this natural humanness springing up from their personality, aspirations, and shattered dreams, which is even more ironically more humane than those supposedly the "real" human beings who are responsible for their existence intended to supply spare parts. The implications of this novel are huge. It wakes us up and asks ourselves the question, "What is a human being and what is his or her dignity?" I echo what Chuck Colson said in his review, "I recommend this book for adults and older teens (there's some material here that is not suitable for younger children), and I encourage you to share it with people who don't fully understand the cloning issue. Never Let Me Go is a powerful work of art that, by impacting the imagination, reaches us at the deepest level, which is often more powerful than the best scientific and political arguments."
    ...more info
  • Not worth it
    By the second chapter I was wondering how The Sunday Times could have called this "The year's most remarkable novel", unless this was faint praise and the publisher's had pulled the phrase out of context. By the third chapter the premise of the book was obvious and I kept thinking it might get better. It didn't ... the characters just seem to meander along in an aimless daze letting their fate arrive. I didn't bother to finish the book - I have better things to do....more info
  • Stunning.
    My goodness, what can I say about this book? It is gloomy, sometimes funny, comtemplative, but no matter what emotion you have when reading this book, even the positive ones, it is tinged with a deep sense of sadness.

    Kathy, Ruth and Tommy are students at an elite school in Hailsham and it is constantly stressed to them how special they are. Their school is also spoken of with great esteem and appears to be very well regarded. The students lives are characteristic of most boarding school kids. They study, fight with each other, gossip about their classmates and teachers and dream of the careers they will have when they leave school. But in all of this you will sense something odd that for a long time you can't quite put your finger on. One of the most puzzling things to me as I read, was the lack of mention of parents or guardians coming to visit. There was never really talk of "home", a common theme with kids at boarding school. Very, very slowly you begin to realize what is actually happening and then you are filled with horror. Indeed these children are special but not in the way we were all led to believe.

    I do not want to say too much because I do not want to reveal anything important but I was left reeling after reading this book. Though I have not read any of Ishiguro's writing before this, I will definitely seek his work out because he is a brilliant writer. There were many times,I felt like I was physically in the book, as if I was experiencing the situations myself.

    When the truth of the situation dawned on me, I kept wondering why the people involved never seem to contemplate the idea of escaping. The characters seem to be unaware of the idea of freewill, its like they have been programmed to accept their fate and never resist it. Kathy, our guide through this tale is sympathetic and tragic at the same time. At the end of the day regardless of the actual facts on the table, this book is about the unique relationship between these three friends and how it evolves over the years.

    I HIGHLY recommend this book but be warned, its depressing....more info
  • don't read the library of congress info
    It's a shame that I accidentally read the library of congress info in the beginning of the book, because some of the major plot points which are carefully and gradually revealed are spelled out right there in a few terse words. Otherwise, it's an excellent book with a few relatively minor plot flaws which are quickly evident to anyone who can think critically about the finer points of the plot....more info
  • A good idea muddled in verbose idiocy
    I was so disappointed. I love Ishiguro's earlier work. But this story almost bored me to tears. There's none of the suspense and hunger a reader feels when they pick up The Handmaid's Tale. The narrator Kathy is by far one of the worst story-tellers in existence. All the dialogue reads like it's the same person speaking over and over again. The narrator downright refuses to ever get to the point therefore each section is drug out page after page without the reader learning anything but frustration. Didn't anyone edit Ishiguro? Or do they stop doing that after you win a Booker Prize?...more info
  • Brilliant exposition
    I was genuinely intrigued by Ishiguro's strength of narrative technique insofar as his exposition was masterful. He lets the story unfold like a blossoming rose told from the point-of-view of a caregiver living among human clones created to provide body parts for normal humans. The narrative was so gentle and simple that ultimately there's great power evident here in the story telling. I think it's quite possible that some reviewers have gone a bit overboard in their praise of this writer. But the understatement of the narrative style did definitely impress me as a sign of great maturity and skill by the author of The Remains of the Day. This is a dark and sad and disturbing novel, which is a trademark of Booker Award winners and finalists. But there is no denying the talent of Ishiguro in the quiet prowess of his story-telling. ...more info