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Never Let Me Go (2005)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
22,317926164 (3.81)2 / 1374
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)
  1. 473
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    joannasephine: A similar society, and a similar obliqueness to the most striking aspects of the story.
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    ahappybooker: Similar themes of dystopia and vivisection
    LAKobow: This series also deals with dystopian organ donation
  10. 96
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  14. 10
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    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.
  16. 21
    We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves 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)
  17. 10
    Meat by Joseph D'Lacey (hoddybook)
    hoddybook: The subject matter of both involves a dystopian future in which some people are more worthy of support than others. Ishiguro is more genteel than D'Lacey. Unless you really want to know what's in your daily pinta, I'd give Meat a miss, on the other hand...… (more)
  18. 00
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(see all 34 recommendations)

Asia (37)
Teens (8)

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Group TopicMessagesLast Message 
 Book Fiend: Never let me go2 unread / 2kjuliff, June 2021
 Chertsey Bookclub: Never Let Me Go - discussed 15/09/102 unread / 2PollyCCC, September 2010

» See also 1374 mentions

English (885)  Dutch (10)  Spanish (7)  German (5)  French (5)  Italian (4)  Swedish (2)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  Finnish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Galician (1)  Japanese (1)  All languages (924)
Showing 1-5 of 885 (next | show all)
This is my second Ishiguro book and I am a little disappointed. This is nothing like The Buried Giant. I still like Ishiguro’s gradual, layered introduction. But there were some elements that kept me from engaging in the story. In almost all of the chapters, memories are revealed with reference to some other more important memories, which then might be linked to some other events. Transitions such as “but to explain what we were talking about... I’ll have to go back a little bit”, “I want to talk about this, but I have to explain this first”, or “you wouldn’t understand this without knowing that” became too distracting for me.

I also think the story is weakened by the lack of information around the circumstances. How were these donors controlled, or what stopped any of them from researching or escaping? Throughout the book, you feel that these kids are not too different from regular students and that there isn’t much stopping them. Only towards the end, there is some reference to what happens after their 4th possible donation and what they really become. Yet, one wonders why these intelligent and well-educated kids are not questioning or objecting to their fate long before that. Perhaps, it was Ishiguro’s intention to have the reader imagine dire circumstances. Overall, this is a page-turner and an interesting story.
( )
  BerrinSerdar | Dec 5, 2023 |
An interesting book, but I'd find it difficult to really recommend it. Its tone reminded me a little of The Handmaid's Tale, which I would recommend.

I found the style somewhat irritating every now and again, really due to the narrative voice (and so, at least partially, intended by Ishiguro), but I always have a certain disinclination to 1st person books anyway. I mostly enjoyed reading it, but my main issue, I guess, was that I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief, so it was a little hard for me to engage with the issues that Ishiguro was raising.

* spoilers *

Thinking about it a bit more, there's lots to like about the book, and I think it is pretty thought-provoking, but my problem is that it nearly works on a number of levels, but not quite on any of them. The writing is a case in point. Ishiguro has to tread a fine line where we are aware that the narrator does have a "soul" (which I am roughly using as a short-hand for a creative, self-conscious intelligence), but it is still plausible that people at large could be able to igore that and think of them as sub-human. Effectively, then, the narrator is someone of less than average intelligence, and writes in a somewhat simplified structure which unfortunately I found a little grating at times.

Similarly, the science bit of the science-fiction doesn't really work for me - it doesn't seem a particularly efficient way of arranging organ donation. Why would the donors also act as carers? Why would they even be let out?

Also, this book seems a prime candidate for the genre of science-fiction that is intended as contemporary social commentary. The problem here is that we don't actually see how this world came about, or even understand much about it. That makes it easy to distance ourselves and dismiss it as implausible that "we" - the sensitive readers - would act this way toward people who quite obviously are human. That, coupled with the scientific implausibility of it meant that the essential concept - an underclass, quietly manipulated and abused for the benefit of an uncaring, almost unaware majority - didn't really resonate as it should..

Ishiguro may be making a point about how we are able to screen out people whose role is crucial to society, but whom we do not want to think about, but it seems that the treatment is waaay to oblique for that to really penetrate.

This is a shame as Ishiguro does create believable, sympathetic personalities, and there were some heard-rending moments - the incident for which the book is named - and nicely thought through details - the term "completing" for eventually dying after too many donations. If the setting had been a little more plausible - if I could have felt that cold chill of "there but for the grace of god..." - it could have been a beautiful, caustic cautionary tale.
( )
  thisisstephenbetts | Nov 25, 2023 |
The pacing is glacial.
  fionaanne | Nov 15, 2023 |
Kathy describes her life at a secluded school for children with no parents along with two students who impacted her the most, Ruth and Tommy, and their lives after leaving the school. Their futures are predestined and mostly mysterious until the truth is slowly revealed. I wonder the most why they accept their fate almost without question, seemingly only to want to prolong their fate rather than thwart it. I expected to be impacted more than I was, it’s a sad book. I saw the movie decades ago, so maybe knowing the “secret” going into the book caused me to not be quite as emotional as one would expect. Or, perhaps it’s the type of story that is more emotionally gripping when portrayed by actors. It’s a good book with an interesting narrative style. I also wonder if Kathy and Ruth were as irritating to anyone else? ( )
  KarenMonsen | Nov 12, 2023 |
2 / 5 ⭐️‘s

“Never Le Me Go” by Kazoo Ishiguro

“Poor creatures. What did we do to you? With all our schemes and plans?”

In summary this one just wasn’t my kind of book. I read (listened to audiobook) this one because it was the February read for my @goodreads group “Apocalypse Whenever.”

The book had HINTS of science fiction and dystopia. I kept listening hoping that it would get deeper into those elements at some point but it just never really did until the very very end. Really this was more a romance book than anything in my opinion.

This one was made into a movie with the same title, part of me wants to watch it just out of curiosity… ( )
  thisgayreads | Nov 4, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 885 (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 (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ishiguro, KazuoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fox, KerryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kriek, BarthoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landor, RosalynNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Novarese, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Röhrig, JohannesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaden, BarbaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed



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To Lorna and Naomi
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My name is Kathy H.
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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.

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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.

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