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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
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Never Let Me Go (edition 2006)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

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13,479603161 (3.83)927
Member:jillbone
Title:Never Let Me Go
Authors:Kazuo Ishiguro
Info:Vintage (2006), Edition: Later Printing, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:dystopia, 13 in 13

Work details

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Recently added byabbeyhar, Tilda.Tilds, Kateantiquity, ruud, private library, Giadoska
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» See also 927 mentions

English (576)  Dutch (6)  Spanish (6)  French (5)  German (3)  Italian (2)  Swedish (1)  Galician (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (602)
Showing 1-5 of 576 (next | show all)
I'm looking forward to the movie. ( )
  tennwisc | Jul 15, 2014 |
I listened to the audio version of this, which was perhaps my biggest problem. The reading was fine (I've listened to that narrator before), but I spend at least three hours a day in the car commuting, and I listened to this following a rather rollicking fantasy adventure. I thought the change of pace would be welcome.

I just felt like I was trapped in the car for three days while someone reminisced about their days in boarding school. I could not get into this. I didn't feel like the narrator had any personality, and I cringed whenever she talked about her friend Ruth. For a long time, I kept waiting for Ruth to get what was coming to her for the lying and cruel acts, but she never did. Even Ruth's "redemption" at the end of the novel was paltry.

The trick here wasn't revealed until halfway through, and it was so subtle, discussed so little, and had so little bearing on the stories that were being related that I couldn't bring myself to feel sorry or care. A book like this, about the average relationships between average people... I feel like my time would be better spent hanging out with my friends, coworkers, or even someone I found vaguely interesting. When it ended, I felt merely a vague sadness at the parting, and not the Earth-shaking, life-ending tragedy that was intended.

Perhaps I would have been more touched if I had read this as a novel. Maybe the character and her story would have drawn me in more. Maybe I would have felt the tragedy in the wasted lives and the cruel situation. Maybe I would have hated Ruth less. I did like Tommy. Too bad he was the butt of every bad thing that happened. Mostly I felt bad that Tommy spent so much time with Ruth and willing accomplice Cathy. ( )
  ConnieJo | Jul 14, 2014 |
Tengo una afición un poco particular por los autores japoneses. Quienes, a mi parecer, son los maestros de la melancolía. Logrando expresar los hechos, y ocasionarnos sentimientos, sin parecer forzado y formulado.

Sin embargo, Never Let Me Go carece de esa sutileza. Aquí los personajes son victimas de su "destino", y ninguno parece tener ni las ganas ni las fuerzas para luchar contra el. Sin ningún tipo de crecimiento ni desarrollo personal, simplemente aceptan su fatalidad, por lo que parece que esta historia fue escrita por un autor muy deprimido con la única intención de hacernos sentir tanto vacío y desolación como siente el.


La escritura, que me imagino que tenía la finalidad de ser profunda y digna de un Nobel, resulta, en realidad, aburrida.

Lo único a su favor es que es una historia que, a pesar del tiempo, resulta difícil de olvidar. ( )
  Glire | Jul 7, 2014 |
"The fantasy never got beyond that -- I didn't let it -- and though the tears rolled down my face, I wasn't sobbing or out of control. I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it wad I was supposed to be." ( )
  PamZaragoza | Jun 27, 2014 |
Original post at Book Rhapsody.

***

Intro

There’s something endearing about the title of this novel. It sounds like the ultimate request of someone who is deeply in love, which when not granted, would render the person incapable of going on.

This novel spurred a lot of attention by holding the reputation of being the most recently published book in Time Magazine’s list of 100 Best Novels. It’s exactly that reason it got me reeling. I thought that it should be The Remains of the Day instead, although I only read that after reading this. And the release of Never Let Me Go’s film adaptation only piqued my curiosity further.

I made it a point to read the book first before watching the film. I immediately bought a movie tie-in edition once it was out in the local book stores. Since I read it last year, a lot has already been said, both from the lovers and the haters. I even unofficially moderated a book talk regarding this, and I haven’t written anything about it yet.

So I guess now is the time.

The Rhapsody

My name is Kathy H. That’s the opening line. It’s not exactly something that you would find in the department of great opening lines. But really, there’s a sense of mystery in this simple introduction.

Why is her surname just that, a lone letter? If one does not have an idea on what the novel is about, the reader might think from that introductory sentence that the narrator is a porn star. But all suppositions are dropped as the narrator immediately tells us what she does and how old she is.

She’s a carer. Shouldn’t that be a caretaker, or a caregiver? What difference would it make anyway if she is either one of the two? And what is she caring for?

She’s caring donors. She’s in her thirties, I think. I imagine she’s 31, or maybe 28. I cannot remember, but wherever her age exactly falls between the two numbers, it’s still a relatively short time to live one’s life, even if one is only shooting for the fifties.

So she’s dying? Not yet, but that would be soon enough, especially if she does not do well on her first donation. So there’s a second donation then? Or even more? And why would she donate her organs if that would endanger her life?

Well, that’s the way it is, at least for her, and the likes of her. What is wrong? What is she anyway?

She’s a clone. The film adaptation hastily explains that in their world, the medical sciences have discovered a fool-proof method of cloning humans. Oh, so this novel is science fiction then.

It is, loosely, but a nonreader of science fiction does not even realize this. The scientific framework is almost stripped off the novel, so there’s no talk of the omniscient eyes of Big Brother in 1984 or the explanation on how those drugs work in Brave New World. I think that this in itself is a commendable feat.

Oh, it’s a dystopian novel then. It is. It’s yet another study of a society’s disintegration given a certain set of conditions. The world is cloning people so that people can use the clones’ young, healthy organs to extend their lives. Their human lives. Which explains why Kathy H is rummaging her life before she ends her career as a carer and start a new one as a donor. Could you even call those two as careers?

There’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I haven’t read it yet, but I think it’s about humans falling in love with clones. What reason would there be to read another novel about clones then if you have already read Dick’s novel? I daresay that this is not largely about clones. I think it’s more about people resigning to whatever is left to them. It’s about ceasing to struggle and accepting things as they are, and this could be the more sensible choice.

That somehow explains this notorious question: why didn’t those clones run away and live happily ever after? Security over them is not too tight, and they might have had a chance if they tried, right? Why this helplessness? Why this stupidity?

Final Notes

That question is also raised by book critics, putting it in such a way that made it look like the author overlooked a grand flaw in building a plot. I myself wanted the protagonists to escape, but in the end, I thought it would be a whole different thing if they did escape. I might not even have liked the novel if that happened.

Ishiguro mentioned that he was not interested in the possibility of escaping and rebuilding lives. He was after exactly what he wrote, an exploration of a life doomed, growing up with all these insinuations that you are different, that you have to look for yourself and for your kind, being fed with all the subtleties that not any one of you can be a bus driver or an actor or whatever it is that you hope to be, realizing that you cannot lose a thing that never was yours, realizing still that you can hardly own what was never meant for you, and realizing further that whatever you lost cannot rush back to you in perfect condition on the shores.

That one may only have scraps for a life, and to want more will just break you apart. And to contain all these will surely wring the inner tumult out of your skin. And after that, a sense of disquiet. A wrangling mix of hope and despair. A stillness, disquiet still, and waiting, waiting. ( )
  angusmiranda | Jun 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 576 (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 (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kazuo Ishiguroprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landor, RosalynNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Novarese, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 carer – 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.
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:05:45 -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 12 descriptions

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