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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go (edition 2005)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

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15,625720115 (3.82)1143
Title:Never Let Me Go
Authors:Kazuo Ishiguro
Info:Vintage International (2005), Paperback
Collections:Your library

Work details

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Follow Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy as they attend Hailsham – a pleasant English boarding school where the students are well supported although they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed very little contact with it. When they are allowed to leave Hailsham, they finally realize what it is and who they truly are.

I can’t put this book into words. It was so good. ( )
  jenn88 | Apr 25, 2017 |
I think the effect of this book might have been lessened for me because I already knew about the secret/mystery? So if you haven't read this book just go ahead and do it. It's a good book and a great example of speculative fiction.

An English woman named Kathy, working as some kind of nurse, recounts her childhood at a boarding school with a focus on her friendships with a girl named Ruth and a boy named Tommy.

This book was okay but as I mentioned above I think I lost out because I already knew that the kids were clones bred for organ donation. I didn't care for Ruth because I thought she was too aggressive and mean; I didn't care for Kathy or Tommy because I thought they were too passive (mostly in their reaction to Ruth's rudeness). Because of this the book dragged for me in the middle because I wanted to know more about cloning and organ donation but all I got was melodrama between the 3 characters. But in general it's a well-written book and I'll definitely pick up more Ishiguro in the future.

I think it's notable that it never occurs to any of the self-aware clones to run away or try to escape their fate. They have a ton of freedom while at the cottages and as carers, and they think about all kind of other things like falling in love and getting deferrals and finding their clone-parent. How do they not at least think about running away? Is it proof that they do not have souls?

A quick note about the final page of the book: Kathy drives off in a random direction in Norfolk, gets out of the car, and walks to a ploughed field surrounded by an electric-wire topped fence. Am I wrong in interpreting this as her actually finding Hailsham? It seemed so perfect that she would find Hailsham by instinct right after losing Tommy, and also that it would be located in Norfolk. That would explain why the school did not have a proper map of Norfolk (to prevent kids from figuring out where they are), and it would be very poetic that the place where all the lost things go was where the kids were to begin with. But I went back and re-read the page and I don't think there's actually any textual evidence for my interpretation.
( )
  norabelle414 | Apr 24, 2017 |
At first, I cannot totally grasp the notion of the story as it was written simultaneously from past and present, and its pace is lethargic for me. I thought I will never like it but I've grown to love the characters and their flaws. This book left me forlorn.

***some spoilers***
I like Kathy with Tommy, I was rooting them since the beginning of Tommy's bonkers state. I just wish Tommy love Kathy. I hate how he chose to have a different carer. But I think he can't stand remembering Hailsham and his lost hope whenever he sees Kathy. And maybe he can't picture her knowing that he's dying. There was no direct thing about Kathy loving Tommy but the way I see it, she did.

I also like how Kathy was so loyal to Ruth even if she was pain in the behind most of the time. ( )
  phoibee | Apr 23, 2017 |
Kazuo Ishiguro's NEVER LET ME GO is speculative fiction at its best. Ishiguro contemplates an alternate reality where clones are raised for spare parts. Do I hear groaning? Relax, this isn't yet another rehash of a tired old science fiction troupe: step one, clones are blissfully ignorant; step two, clones realize they're only spare parts; step three, clones rebel. No, instead Ishiguro uses the premise to look inside the lives of the clones and explore what it means to be human through the lens of this particular dystopia. I don't think I'm spoiling anything if I tell you there is no rebellion. This is a hopeless situation and Ishiguro offers no pat solution for a happy ending. His story is about finding the spark of life within the hopelessness.

The story begins with the clones as children and follows a linked trio as they progress all the way to the ends of their lives. It is a slow and mournful symphony that gets under your skin and stays there. No essay on bioethics could make the point better: there are consequences to our societal choices that run deep. He offers no solutions, just makes it impossible to turn a blind eye. Literary speculative fiction like this is rare. I guess this reflects the market, which caters to our ever-decreasing attention spans with a glut of fast paced, easy to digest fare. Too bad, because more speculative fiction like NEVER LET ME GO would elevate expectations and perhaps allow SF publishers to deliver more than the literary equivalent of blinking lights and loud noises. In the meantime I'll keep on spelunking for gems like this.
( )
  AugustvonOrth | Apr 20, 2017 |
Interesting book. A lot to ponder. Engaging characters kept me turning pages. Seems mostly about relationship, but there is an air of mystery. I'm not sure if I'm satisfied with the ending. Rosalyn Landor does a great job as narrator. ( )
  njcur | Apr 19, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 688 (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 editionscalculated
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landor, RosalynNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Novarese, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My name is Kathy H.
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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.

AR Level 6.0, 15 pts
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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)

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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