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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
17,322790159 (3.82)1224
  1. 423
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (readerbabe1984, rosylibrarian, ateolf, browner56)
    browner56: Two chilling, though extremely well written, reminders that liberty, freedom, and self-determination are not idle concepts.
  2. 293
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (sanddancer)
  3. 215
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (jessicaskura, readerbabe1984)
  4. 111
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (joannasephine)
    joannasephine: A similar society, and a similar obliqueness to the most striking aspects of the story.
  5. 90
    The Children of Men by P. D. James (Yells)
  6. 90
    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (EnriqueFreeque)
  7. 80
    The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist (infiniteletters, bookcrushblog)
  8. 93
    Under the Skin by Michel Faber (Medellia, SqueakyChu)
  9. 84
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Monika_L)
  10. 52
    Unwind by Neal Shusterman (VictoriaPL, meggyweg, ahappybooker, LAKobow)
    ahappybooker: Similar themes of dystopia and vivisection
    LAKobow: This series also deals with dystopian organ donation
  11. 10
    We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (joannasephine)
  12. 21
    The Pesthouse by Jim Crace (urania1)
    urania1: If you enjoy dystopian fiction or long for "literary" science fiction, read this book. It deals with the big questions, namely can people retain their humanity in dehumanizing conditions?
  13. 10
    The Children's Hospital by Chris Adrian (bookcrushblog)
  14. 10
    The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers (Nickelini)
  15. 10
    We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves: A Novel by Karen Joy Fowler (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Though it is less witty than We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Never Let Me Go is another poignant and insightful story about biological experimentation and human identity. Both novels feature lyrical prose, well-developed characterization, and haunting tones of melancholy.… (more)
  16. 32
    The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro (Chenga)
  17. 10
    Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan (WildMaggie)
    WildMaggie: A thriller and a tragic romance--both authors explore the ethics of people created for specific purposes from the perspectives of those created individuals.
  18. 00
    The Postmortal by Drew Magary (ahappybooker)
    ahappybooker: also a dystopian society where the government makes unethical choices to supposedly improve the world.
  19. 00
    Borderliners by Peter Høeg (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Other children in another school on the shadowy side of the street who are unwittingly being trained to benefit society at large.
  20. 00
    The Old Child and the Book of Words by Jenny Erpenbeck (rrmmff2000)
    rrmmff2000: Unsettling narratives and fantastic writing about teenaged girls growing up muffled from the world.

(see all 32 recommendations)

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Showing 1-5 of 753 (next | show all)
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 |
An odd story set in a slightly alternative universe, where the English are still very English but they also have farms where they raise children whose organs they can harvest when need be- and the organs are always needed, and the children all die painfully. The narrator, who is one of the donor children, overthinks everything, so that gets annoying at time, but overall it's beautifully written and laid out. But very depressing and creepy. ( )
  belgrade18 | Mar 4, 2019 |
Three kids in a boarding school for "special" students. Very special. Three adults talking about their experiences at said school and piecing together what it all meant. It might have worked if most of the answers weren't revealed (or easily guessed) along the way. Or if the answers hadn't been so bland and dissatisfying.

No, I take that back. Even if the reveal/climax of this book were Madame telling the three protagonists, "Guess what, kids, you are clones!", this book would not have worked for me. In fact, that cliche might have made it worse. Their knowing what they were had the potential of drawing more tension throughout the book, if the writing had been better. The attempt at conversational prose here looks like this: "I hated ice cream ..." [one paragraph later] "... as I say, I hated ice cream" and "I didn't know then, but I would find out that time when we talked on the beach" [scene break] "This is what happened when we talked on the beach." My reading stream of consciousness: Yes, Kathy/Ishiguro, you said that, fifty words ago you said it, please don't repeat yourself on every page ... you're not going to repeat yourself on every page, are you? ... okay, you are going to repeat yourself on every page ... The intrusiveness of the craft prevented me from ever immersing in the story.

But if I had, I'd be no less annoyed, because Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth are some of the most annoying fictional people I have met. Their relational dynamic as children is somewhat interesting (Ruth's passive aggressive behavior especially, if like me you enjoy digging into character psychology), but as adults, they are maddening and unsympathetic. I get what Ishiguro was saying about the power of conditioning and even of self-delusion. I get that this is a somewhat dystopian piece of literature (though the storyworld is left undeveloped), and in this genre the little man doesn't always beat the system. However, we mourn the little man who loses because he tries with everything in him and still fails. He refuses to be resigned, and we hope we would be so brave if ever we had to be. Characters who meander down the life path chosen for them without ever trying to change things or escape or do better for someone else at risk to themselves? Sure, there are "sheep" like this (all totalitarian regimes depend on it), but they are not to be called heroes.

And to anyone who says "that's the point of the book; there are no heroes, only sheep" ... okay, yes, obviously you are correct. But that's not the kind of book that will burn bright in this reader's heart or create any emotion or attachment. Therefore, from me, this book earns two stars. ( )
  AmandaGStevens | Mar 2, 2019 |
What is notable about this book is its conversational, musing quality. As Kathy is telling the story of her childhood at Hailsham and her friendships with Ruth and Tommy, she is constantly veering forward and back in time, correcting herself and making asides to the future or explaining the importance of a particular conversation. It is also this quality that can make 'Never Let Me Go' exasperating and hard to get into.

Then there is the difference between Kathy's England and the one we know. It is an idea that has been explored in several other novels and films and shows, but with the possible exception of Holmqvist's 'The Unit' that reality has never seemed so possible. I don't want to go further into it, even if other reviews haven't flinched from it, because even though the "dark secret" isn't very secret for long, knowing too much before going into the story would take away from the unnerving pastoral setting that Ishiguro is so careful to set up. Mostly though, its secondary to the thrust of the book, which is its understated sadness, and subtle exploration of relationships and sometimes poisonous friendships.

Because, yes, I can see how this book falls into both Science Fiction and Dystopian literature, but the depth it goes into interpersonal relationships and with a narrative that never seems to disbelieve itself, 'Never Let Me Go' transcends the boundaries of "genre" fiction. This is to and against its benefit as someone's preconceived notions of what to expect may lead them to get frustrated when running into the wall of Kathy's memories. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 753 (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
First words
My name is Kathy H.
Last words
(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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