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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
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Never Let Me Go (2005)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
16,833773160 (3.83)1201
  1. 413
    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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    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (sanddancer)
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    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (jessicaskura, readerbabe1984)
  4. 101
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    joannasephine: A similar society, and a similar obliqueness to the most striking aspects of the story.
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  6. 80
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  9. 83
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  10. 52
    Unwind by Neal Shusterman (VictoriaPL, meggyweg, ahappybooker, LAKobow)
    ahappybooker: Similar themes of dystopia and vivisection
    LAKobow: This series also deals with dystopian organ donation
  11. 20
    The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (jennyellen22)
  12. 21
    The Pesthouse by Jim Crace (urania1)
    urania1: If you enjoy dystopian fiction or long for "literary" science fiction, read this book. It deals with the big questions, namely can people retain their humanity in dehumanizing conditions?
  13. 10
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  14. 10
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  15. 10
    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)
  16. 10
    We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (joannasephine)
  17. 32
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  18. 10
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  19. 00
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  20. 00
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    bluepiano: Other children in another school on the shadowy side of the street who are unwittingly being trained to benefit society at large.

(see all 32 recommendations)

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English (737)  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 (771)
Showing 1-5 of 737 (next | show all)
Excerpt from my original GR review (Feb 2009):
- Engaging fantastical story. The soullessness is affecting. Kathy's narration, sad, haunting and totally captivating. I felt much sympathy for the students. Quick pace read, not like anything I've read before. I'll read more Ishiguro. [note: and I did read more; I'll very likely re-read this book as well] ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Aug 10, 2018 |
The only reason this is getting two stars instead of one is that it is well-written, from a technical standpoint, and it kept my attention (if only in the way that I couldn't wait to get it over with rather than putting it down and not bothering to pick it up again). I found the characters very difficult to care about, essentially because they exist and behave in complete service to the literariness of the novel. There are three main characters: Kath, the narrator, who is somewhat of an amorphous nothing, personality-wise; Ruth, a classic toxic female friend, whose manipulations I had very little patience for; and Tommy, the only character I found both unique and sympathetic.

I took issue with many things that came and went, but aside from the characters, the thing that was prevalent throughout (and I will try to avoid direct spoilers) was that I could not believe these people would let this be done to them, or would willingly participate in the system of it. Not in the aghast way of being shocked at some strange human behaviour; I mean that the author utterly failed to convince me that these people had any reason for accepting what they were expected to do and endure and be. Somehow I don't think his intention was that the characters be seen as less than human, but that's exactly what they became to me, since one would have to sever some very basic elements of a character's humanity for this to be acceptable (either to the characters or the reader). This can be done either within the text itself to make it believable to the reader, or the author can simply pretend people aren't the way people are in order to say what he wants to say, and I believe Ishiguro did the latter.

Perhaps this is because I'm missing something from the first part of the book, which takes place at Hailsham. Kath tells us about having a sense of always knowing what its students were meant for, that it was revealed gradually to them in a sort of oblique manner so that when the truth is told to them point-blank it's rather anticlimactic. I think this is meant to pass as an indoctrination, but it simply doesn't work. While the Hailsham students' upbringings have an element of strangeness to them, the fact is that they are still growing up with a certain western sensibility that encompasses individuality and autonomy and all the things that make a person not feel like they're, you know, oppressed. In the end, Hailsham is a quirky boarding school, and if I was meant to be especially disturbed by it, it failed spectacularly.

In less of a fundamental disagreement with the premise and more a narrative note, I quickly lost patience with the way the story skips around. It often intentionally gets ahead of itself and then goes back to explain past events, which I have no problem with in principle but could get so convoluted here that a few times, I literally thought the author had mixed up his timeline. ( )
  Jeeps | Jul 26, 2018 |
This book was so quietly horrifying that you didn't realize how scary it was until it was all over. Excellent read. ( )
  SevenAcreBooks | Jul 11, 2018 |
If you think deciding what is moral or right is easy, read this novel and think again. What if you could save total populations from death by premature disease, from death by cancer, from birth defects and heart conditions. Would you do that? Of course. Would you do that if it required the extinction of another group of people? What if you could classify those people as not people at all? What if you could define the having of a soul and decide they do not have one?

Ishiguro tackles this issue without any preaching or proselytizing. He just lays out a story about three individuals, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, who grow up in a school called Hailsham; a group of children who have a predetermined future and a purpose they did not choose and of which they have no control. He delves into the lives of three young people who fail to fully understand how hopeless their future truly is and who fail to grasp how fully they stand outside the world they occupy. What they feel and think about their situation as it unfolds is both predictable and strangely unpredictable. I kept wanting them to run away, to escape, to reject this unfair fate, but in the end they were as tied to the society they lived in as those who would benefit were. This story ripped at my insides and made me wish to scream and flail and pitch the same tantrums for which Tommy was so markedly known, because it seemed the greatest horror here was that “normal” people could condemn these children to unbelievable suffering and anguish by simply labeling them as “different”, as inhuman.

Like all good horror tales, the most frightening aspect of this tale is its possibility. I cannot fear anything that I know cannot happen. This sends shivers because it mirrors our past and envisions our future. We have, dating back to the beginning of our recorded history, evidence that we can dehumanize others and use them for our own ends. The technology depicted here just serves as another way to reach that same end.

I finished this book collapsed in tears. I was crying for Kathy, Tommy and Ruth, for Miss Emily and Madam, who were helpless to change things, and for everyone whose dreams are futile and squashed before they have wings to fly.

( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
This book was assigned reading for my Gender in Literature class in college. It's a very bizarre book, but once you realize what is happening, your heart will ache for these characters. These boys and girls know from the beginning what their lives will be like, and they have no way to escape that fate. This really is a tragically disturbing, yet wonderful book. ( )
  itswawawhitney | Jun 19, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 737 (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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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.

» see all 15 descriptions

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