*This review of Never Let Me Go contains some spoilers regarding the general plot. It does not reveal the final outcome or ending, but reveals details that the reader may not want to know upon reading for the first time*.
Never Let Me Go blurb
In one of the most memorable novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewered version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now 31, Never Let Me Go hauntingly dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School, and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.
Never Let Me Go is set at Hailsham, a boarding school for children, or so it seems. The children take art classes, learn about the human body, and take part in P.E. They’re told that smoking is a disgusting habit, and they learn to read.
But the children in the school are not really children.
Kathy H. is our narrator and the main character, along with her two friends Ruth and Tommy. The school is for genetically-engineered children who have been purposefully created for science. They are organ donors, designed to save wealthy people who need organ transplants.
These children don’t have parents, they can’t leave the school, and they won’t be able to have children themselves. Their clones, or rather the ‘real’ them, is in the world somewhere, with a job and a proper life. The children are kept at Hailsham until they’re adults and at a legal age to begin donating their organs.
Kathy is the only narrator of the story and it begins a light-hearted one, with memories of Hailsham before their fate was discovered. But it also follows their journey upon leaving Hailsham and the predetermined path they were always meant to walk down.
In anger, the three childhood friends determine to track down the women that created the idea of Hailsham. But will the answers they receive really provide them with the answers they’ve always needed?
Never Let Me Go had me hooked, but it was unlike anything I expected it to be. I didn’t really know much about it before I read it. The confusion about why they were in this school, and why the teachers were acting so oddly, stayed with me until near the end of the novel.
The book truly makes you think about fate, and the idea that people can be ‘produced’ for a certain purpose. Though on a slightly larger scale, it’s not much dissimilar to Henry VIII wanting to have a son who could be heir. He produced that child for a purpose, much like the children at Hailsham are there for a purpose.
His writing always holds a scent of mystery, like Henry James, the masterful author of The Turn of the Screw. Both authors create stories that almost don’t and never will have answers.
Throughout Never Let Me Go, Ishiguro hints that all of us have a destined future that we cannot change or control. He goes so far as to imply that none of us are unique, but clones of what we see advertised every single day.
Your life must now run the course that’s been set for it.
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