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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
17,102780157 (3.82)1208
Title:Never Let Me Go
Authors:Kazuo Ishiguro
Info:Knopf Canada (2005), Hardcover
Collections:Your library

Work details

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)

  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.
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    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)
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(see all 32 recommendations)

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» See also 1208 mentions

English (744)  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 (778)
Showing 1-5 of 744 (next | show all)
I both love and hate this book. There are many unanswered questions, such as why? I also find the passiveness of the characters not realistic; but some have said Ishiguro writes just short of the magical realism realm. There is also no plot resolution. That being said, the provocative language is the plus of this book. It was at times a boring, at times an emotional read. ( )
  tess_schoolmarm | Nov 4, 2018 |
This book made me think, but also made me annoyed and frustrated. "Never Let Me Go" really means there is no escape - these kids are brought up for one specific purpose and they will never have a normal life. The question is - can they at least have a normal childhood? How does this affect their upbringing, their outlook on life?

This is an interesting concept that is executed with tremendous writing skill. The plot, the characters, the anecdotal, conversational story telling all serve the same purpose - the examination of what happens when nothing is called by its name, when we hide the truth, we pretend, when we tell but not tell. Nothing is revealed directly to these kids - but not denied, either, woven into other topics, like it was something we all understood. This is echoed in Ruth's little games - you have to pretend the way she expects, look closely for on clues how you are supposed to behave, what the game is - but never question it directly. Hailsham echoes this as well - when a kid asks an uncomfortable question, she is punished by her peers; when Miss Lucy explains the truth, she is let go; finally when Hailsham reminds the society too much about their own fears - they are shut down, too.

The three characters are the embodiment of the two reactions possible: Ruth chooses to pretend, Tommy chooses to seek the truth, and Kath is in the middle - she understands the pretend games, but also wants to figure things out.

The problem is that much of this unfolds in stories about petty fights. Little unsaid things, games not explained but expected to be understood, small behaviors are blown up into all sorts of resentment, moods, random cold shoulders. They don't even fight in the open! Nothing said, just walk away, maybe make up later by another unsaid gesture, maybe enact a petty revenge. It is creepy and uncomfortable. It is one thing that that the adults are hiding things, but why does no one call Ruth on her lies? Why do Tommy and Kathy let her manipulate them? Why do they never discuss anything important openly?

The writing jumps around, often explaining things in an order that does not hold attention. Like, I am telling you this, but really, it is not important, Ruth's reaction is important, but I tell you anyway, this happened on a great day, the trees were really pretty, now this the other half of the conversation I told you earlier. Ugh. I skimmed an awful lot - and I almost never skim. I wanted to know what happens - it was not bad enough to give up. The second half seemed more linear, easier to hold my attention.

There are a lot of other questions raised peripherally that make great discussion topics. There is the question of human vs humane, why no one ever does anything or try to escape, why the society accepts this, how difference is handled, how we can justify atrocities by dehumanizing victims.

One thing that really bothered me was that all kids are depicted as passive and accepting - why are there no questions, anger, resentment, escape plans, revolution plans, attempt at contact with "normals"? There is no overt suppression of their thoughts or forced limits to their movements. At least some should have the very human - and teenage - traits of curiosity, rebellion, anger, questioning of purpose. That he stamped this out of them makes this picture incomplete - artificially too bleak and hopeless.

Overall, well crafted but a chore to read and ultimately unsatisfying. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
I haven't hated a book this much for a long, long time.

Firstly, what a horrible premise for a story.

Secondly, I really very strongly dislike his writing style. Ishiguro attempted to keep the heart of the plot a secret from the reader for practically the entire book. Even once, it was sort of revealed in a sideways manner, by one of the characters, the topic is still never dealt with head-on. He has a habit of restating things over, and over, and over again; and always with no resolution. The characters are weak and just plod along in their horrible existence. Then the book just ends. There isn't any resolution. There isn't any real tackling of why this particular thing is even allowed. The greatest argument I have against the book is that nothing is ever mentioned as to why the students don't simply run away; flee their horrific existence. I am so glad to be finished with this book. I believe this author is getting rich simply because someone with an English degree, somewhere, decided that students everywhere should read this book. ( )
  BoundTogetherForGood | Oct 15, 2018 |
I was a little put off by the tone of this book when I first started reading but I quickly got into it and wound up enjoying it. I like the way the science-fictioney subject matter was handled. It was a pretty unique point of view. ( )
  Katie80 | Oct 8, 2018 |
3.5 stars, rounded down.

Stylistically, this novel wasn't really my thing, and that is the only reason why I'm giving it a less-than-praiseworthy rating. The narrative style felt a bit too distant for me to really connect with the characters or be moved by the underlying love story. Or maybe it just didn't feel quite dystopian or sci-fi enough for me. A stylistic choice shouldn't prompt a horrible rating, though, and I was intrigued by the concept. ( )
1 vote lhofer | Sep 26, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 744 (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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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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 15 descriptions

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