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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go (2005)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
17,391791159 (3.82)1228
Recently added byJeremy_Eaton, Jimena15, MaraBlaise, Read4plenty, HanDor, private library, rena75, coffeezombie
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English (756)  Dutch (8)  German (7)  Spanish (5)  French (5)  Swedish (2)  Italian (2)  Galician (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Finnish (1)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (790)
Showing 1-5 of 756 (next | show all)
This starts out looking like a straightforward boarding-school novel, but we soon get hints that there is something seriously wrong with the world in which it is set. Ishiguro is careful only to feed us information only through his narrator, Kathy, who is clearly earmarked to become a victim of the bad stuff, but who lacks a lot of the information and self-awareness she would need to make sense of what is going on around her and put it in some sort of context. And she's also not the most articulate of storytellers, frequently stopping and starting and looping back on herself.

Ishiguro manages to play his hand quite brilliantly within these self-imposed constraints but it's still a frustrating exercise for the reader to live through. We get to empathise closely with Kathy and the moral issues she half-unpacks, and probably also to draw some (Dickensian) parallels with our own world - it's not hard to think of schools where most kids have even fewer options in their futures than those at Hailsham - but we're left actually knowing very little about the world in which Kathy lives and how it got to the state it's in.

Interesting, but not really the sort of book that I'm likely to get excited about. (Which is perhaps why it spent so long on the pile...) ( )
1 vote thorold | May 7, 2019 |
This is an interesting book, but I didn't find it compelling. The writing is a bit slow, but it is also misleading. At first, the way the narrator talks around the subject makes it seem like she's hiding something, and there's going to be a big reveal, or a twist ending. But this is not a thriller. Thanks to heavy foreshadowing, the reader will have realized any revelations within the first chapters. The twist, perhaps, is the mundanity of the story–that there doesn't need to be a twist, because everyone has been suitably socialized and they accept society and their positions within it. Should that be affecting? For me, it wasn't because I'm not sure that much changed in the novel's second half. ( )
  breic | May 5, 2019 |
Overall, I thought this book was interesting, thought-provoking and beautifully written, but there are some things I disliked. First, Ishiguro creates a world that definitely couldn't exist within the same world as ours, but mostly fails to explain how they got to that point. It's hard to explain without any spoilers but I felt overall, society would not have reacted in nearly the same way had this scientific discovery dropped into our laps at the same time as it did in the story. The problem was, nothing else was presented as being different from our timeline so it felt a little disjointed. What could have possibly happened to the world to make us care so little about acting humanely? I just wish he had addressed this problem.
Another issue I had was the narrative style. While Kathy, the first person narrator, remained pretty consistent throughout and had a distinct voice, the style in which Ishiguro had her tell the story became a little tedious. Basically at the start of each new section she would reference something vaguely important in the future and then say, "here, I'll tell you all about it". Got a bit annoying after a while.
I think he definitely raised some interesting questions without overtly asking them, but there was a bit of a disconnect just because of the confusing way society reacted to the one science fiction element to the story. A bit more history would have been nice. Leaving the entire explanation to a chapter near the end where the main characters find out a lot of what they thought was wrong was a bit disappointing too, albeit realistic. It's not a book I would constantly pull from my shelves to read again, but I definitely enjoyed it and it was worth my time. ( )
  jesmlet | Apr 23, 2019 |
The same quiet, precise writing and atmosphere I loved in Remains of the Day, but not the same depth of story and character. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Good but not great. It's technically dystopian lit I suppose, but for most of it, it doesn't really feel like it, just a boarding school drama. And then everything that is actually going on and not understood by the main characters comes out in a rush in the last few chapters. And then it's done - no hope for change, no moment of faith in the future and trust that the struggle of living is valuable.

I suppose it serves as a warning, and a valuable one I suppose, that we don't allow 'progress' to trump our ethics and morality. In that, it does well, but as I said, not until the last few chapters. I couldn't wait to be done this one. ( )
  Wordbrarian | Mar 5, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 756 (next | show all)
Ishiguro is extremely good at recreating the special, oppressive atmosphere of school (and any other institution, for that matter)—the cliques that form, the covert rivalries, the obsessive concern with who sat next to whom, who was seen talking to whom, who is in favor at one moment and who is not.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, Anita Desai (pay site) (Nov 22, 2005)
The eeriest feature of this alien world is how familiar it feels. It's like a stripped-down, haiku vision of children everywhere, fending off the chaos of existence by inventing their own rules.
"Never Let Me Go" is marred by a slapdash, explanatory ending that recalls the stilted, tie-up-all-the loose-ends conclusion of Hitchcock's "Psycho." The remainder of the book, however, is a Gothic tour de force that showcases the same gifts that made Mr. Ishiguro's 1989 novel, "The Remains of the Day," such a cogent performance.
This extraordinary and, in the end, rather frighteningly clever novel isn't about cloning, or being a clone, at all. It's about why we don't explode, why we don't just wake up one day and go sobbing and crying down the street, kicking everything to pieces out of the raw, infuriating, completely personal sense of our lives never having been what they could have been.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Guardian, John Harrison (Feb 26, 2005)

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kazuo Ishiguroprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kriek, BarthoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landor, RosalynNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Novarese, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Lorna and Naomi
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My name is Kathy H.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
At the age of thirty-one, Kathy H. is coming to the end of her time as a career – a milestone that prompts her to reflect on her unusual life. She begins, naturally, with her childhood at Hailsham, where she and her friends Ruth and Tommy negotiated the lessons and Exchanges set by their guardians, as well as the constant social pressures of school life. As her recollections progress, however, Kathy must take care not to delve too deeply into the tangled knot of her own emotions. The past holds no refuge for her; even since childhood, the knowledge of what the future holds has always been there, deep down – and some truths are too terrible to be confronted.

AR Level 6.0, 15 pts
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307740994, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:35 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Thirty-one-year-old Kathy, along with old friends from Hailsham, a private school in England, are forced to face the truth about their childhood when they all come together again.

» see all 15 descriptions

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