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Note: There are spoilers in this review
Synopsis: The students of Hailsham are different. Their childhood have been spent in a big school in the English countryside, with very little interaction with the cities or people beyond. The only adults they know are the teachers who raised them. The students have always been told that they are special but their unconventional origins are never fully explained. After eighteen years of living in ignorance, Hailsham students leave and start the life they were always meant to live.
Readers get to discover the truth with these characters as Ishiguro never spells out everything at once. Instead the truth is explained in small increments throughout the novel.
Review: Never Let Me Go is a wonderful novel; enthralling, beautifully written, and smart. It focuses on characterization as much as it does on themes. Some examples of these themes are humanity, mortality, friendship, identity, love, and lost.
I enjoyed figuring out the mystery along with the characters. Ishiguro’s writing is beautiful and I just couldn’t put this book down. Aside from figuring out the truth, I loved the characters. The author’s descriptions of the relationship between Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth was rich and very believable; the changing dynamics between childhood friends and the challenge of trying to figure out one’s identity.
Much like how the students of Hailsham are “told but not told” about themselves, Ishiguro also does not explain everything about Kathy’s and Tommy’s relationship in one go. I guess you can say that this book is kind of big on having you read between the lines. While other writers might find that a challenge, Ishiguro was very successful. Ultimately, this style of writing was enjoyable for me. I liked that there was something to figure out and I’m not just told everything as if, “here you go, what else do you need?”
When the truth comes to full view - the children are clones raised like normal kids; given shelter, food, an education, and they’re meant to be organ donors to any human who needs them, it’s kind of sad. It’s not just that in the end two people who love each other, whose happiness you’d like to see, can’t have a life together, it’s also that they just go with it. Sure they get angry but they don’t consider leaving, changing their lives, they just accept it. I understand their lives weren’t about choices. They were never taught that there was something more in the world for them. Still, I find their compliance sad, almost frightening.
This truth also explains why despite being repeatedly told that they are special, the adults have always been kind of afraid of the students. Like many, these adults are afraid of what’s different and what they cannot understand. These teachers also wonder whether or not these children, or creatures as some teachers called them, have souls. The idea that they might not have souls scares the adults.
I think this is the best book I’ve read in 2011.
My Rating: 5 out of 5
Have you read Never Let Me Go?
How about Ishiguro's other novels, have you read any of them?
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