Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
As a child, Kathy – now thirty-one years old – lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.
And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed – even comforted – by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.
Never Let Me Go is told in a disconnected sort of way, more a collection of anecdotes than a proper plot. The plot of the book left me sort of underwhelmed; it wasn't too dramatic, and the romance seemed forced. The characters were interesting and they all had their quirks, but they didn't really seem to go together - there wasn't any chemistry for the romance, even though it was a huge part of the plot.
The plot, like I said, is rather disjointed and more a collection of short stories. It adds to the effect that Kathy is looking back on her life, but it overlooks a lot of the emotional impact of donations. We don't hear about the history of the donations and the donor children until the very last chapter, although we do get glimpses and a basic understanding throughout the book. The donor children were the most interesting part of the book. Both the children and the "normal" people's reaction to them providing an interesting look at humanity, but again we don't really get the full effect of it until the last chapter.
Because of the vague way Ishiguro told the story, I wanted to keep reading and find out more. In some ways, I suppose Ishiguro was telling us about the donations the way Kathy and her friends were told; a little bit at a time so it was never too shocking.
Looking back on it, there was a lot I enjoyed about Never Let Me Go, and it's definitely a book that will stay with me.
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