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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go (edition 2006)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

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14,053629147 (3.83)1047
Title:Never Let Me Go
Authors:Kazuo Ishiguro
Info:Vintage (2006), Edition: Later Printing, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:dystopia, 13 in 13

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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Recently added byprivate library, AMoeller, Katherine87, noam.mor, Iynrew, mamelotti, wreichard, zkazy, Ydneysai, paperhoard
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» See also 1047 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 601 (next | show all)
I ended up respecting this book more than liking it. It's well-written and I appreciate how Ishiguro creates a sense of mystery at the beginning of the novel and how he gradually builds a sense of inevitable doom through the book. But I felt a certain distance between me and the characters: they were so ignorant about how the world worked and so unquestioning of their fates that it took some effort on my part to care much about them. ( )
  Silvernfire | Apr 8, 2015 |
I was struck by how different this book was from "The Remains of the Day," the other book by Ishiguro that I have read. He's a versatile writer. Told by Kathy, it is her story and also that of her friends Ruth and Tommie. It is a dystopian story in England around the 1980s. I don't think it is much of a spoiler to say that they exist for the purpose of organ/tissue donation. They have been cloned for that purpose, and are raised in a school isolated from the rest of the world. They are raised and taught by Guardians, and live together with their age group.

They are a passive lot, seeming to have little interest in the rest of the world beyond their school grounds, and no interest in changing what they see as their inevitable futures. Yet it is a story about friendship, and love, and a desire to have something special in a relationship that makes life worth having lived. It is a melancholy story, but a touching one and I was captivated by it right to the end. I'm anxious to check out more of Ishiguro's books. ( )
  lynetterl | Apr 4, 2015 |
Ten years ago this was one of those IT books that had so much acclaim and popularity that I gave it a miss. Now in 2015 dystopian fiction is more popular than ever, with each book seemingly more extreme than the last. Not so with this book. It is subtle and constrained and all the more powerful as a result. Coming in, I knew the premise which I’ll give away here, but I don’t think it ruins the book. The real reason the characters exist doesn’t stay a secret long and it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out pretty soon anyway.

What baffled me was how utterly passive the characters are both as kids and as adults. Not a whiff of rebellion or aggression. When they’re cloned, do those traits get bred out of them? To make them a more manageable population for the eventual harvest? Pretty radical Miss Emily and Madame creating a school for them where they learn about the outside world. Could have been a breeding ground for some kind of clandestine group bent on revolution.

But no, nothing so dramatic unfolds with Kathy H’s story. One of the first things to strike me in the book was the concept of parents. It didn’t exist. There are none though the kids are aware that the people on the outside have them. They know what sex is and what it brings under normal circumstances, but not for them. Their lack of curiosity about the outside world is also conspicuous in its absence. I’d have thought they’d be dying to know about things. They do, after all, know what their futures hold and to some extent they will be in that world, even if it isn’t for long.

Bit by bit, they come to know they are donors. Tissues and organs to cure other people are the only reason they exist, but it remains nebulous for them and it’s all the more painful to read about the fantasies many of them have that they might do something else. One girl imagines she’ll work in a cube farm. To her it’s glamorous. A teacher (known as Guardians) bursts their bubbles in a moment of rash honesty and soon she leaves the “school”. Only later do we come to know that she was forced out because of this kind of behavior.

The relationships between the three main characters, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, were at the same time typical of teenagers and also really strange in the fearlessness of each to hurt the other. Probably it was their confinement that made it possible. In the outside world, people are free to leave one another; to break ties finally and absolutely. In the enclosed universe they inhabit those bonds are less fragile and more flexible. It allows relationships to be less one-dimensional and all positive. Even through the negative aspects, each scene set up and lovingly rendered by Kathy, the three are bonded. I understood pretty quickly Ruth was trying to monopolize Tommy, something she confessed to at the end, but Kathy seemed deliberately blind to it. As if she valued her connection to Ruth more than anything else, especially sex which she viewed as a biological reflex and the desire for it beyond her control.

Most people characterize the book as depressing or sad, and while the tone is subdued, the characters don’t seem to be sad about their fate. They’re not even resigned to it as you or I would be. Instead most of them feel it’s their place. Not a calling exactly, but their purpose and one they should fulfill. Any sense of injustice is absent on their parts and left for the reader to carry. ( )
1 vote Bookmarque | Mar 28, 2015 |
This is the first novel I've read by Ishiguro and, whilst I only gave it three stars, I did enjoy the story and concept and will certainly look at more of his work. The book has also been made into a film which I may check out sometime.

If you haven't read it or don't know much about the story, try not to read spoilery reviews. Unfortunately, I was just checking out the reviews before I read and one review (here on LibraryThing) practically gave it away in the first sentence.

The story is narrated by Kathy who is looking back at her school days and telling us about what's happened to her and her friends over the course of time. That's all I can say about the plot without giving anything away. I did love the concept and cannot doubt that it is an imaginative story.

The downside for me was some of the writing or what could be meant as an intended character trait. Kathy/Ishiguro have that rather annoying habbit that my dear ole nan used to have when telling a story. You probably know someone who does the same. Heck it could be you or even me! I'm even doing it now. You know, the one that takes about 3 days to get to the point - 'Ah guess what!!?? You'll never guess what Peggy did! It was incredible. I nearly died laughing and the police had to come to sort it out. But first, I need to tell out about these eggs I bought a few months ago. This will help you understand more about what Peggy did".... and then 3 days later, if you're lucky, you may get to find out.

This is no doubt a useful device to provide the reader with more detail about events prior to the event, or even some character development however, after about the umpteenth time of it happening I found myself tensing up, rolling my eyes and losing patience. I'm not sure if it was down to the writing or the character and it certainly didn't help to engage in feeling any kind if empathy with the characters (apart from Tommy) until the last couple of chapters.

Grumbles aside, the book was a big page turner and I did find myself looking forward to curling up with it of an evening after a busy day at work. Additionally, I did feel something for the characters towards the end and found it quite moving, engaging and thoughtful - I think it would certainly engage a lot of debate in any reading group. ( )
  lilywren | Mar 25, 2015 |
One of the most depressing books I've ever read. ( )
  Verkruissen | Mar 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 601 (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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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)

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Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it. Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it's only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.… (more)

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