November 7, 2022


Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Book Summary (from Amazon)

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.

Britney’s Book Review

I am sad to admit that I had never heard of Kazuo Ishiguro or Never Let Me Go until the film version of the book with Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield was released recently. As soon as I saw the movie preview I wanted to watch it but first I had to read the book.

I didn’t really know what to expect from Never Let Me Go. I had heard that it was “haunting” and assumed it was some kind of tale of unrequited love. What I found in the novel was certainly haunting but it wasn’t a love story like most would expect. In other words, don’t read it if you only want a simple beach read with a nice love story.

The prose is poetic yet simple–seemingly too simple when it comes to the subject matter–but it all works. You meet Kathy H. and her two best friends Tommy and Ruth and learn about their unique childhood at an elite school in an English countryside. From the beginning you feel that something is different about the world that Kathy and her friends live in. Kathy weaves her life story from past to present in winding, stark matter-of-fact tones and then changes to a simple, sweet nostalgic tone. Glimpses of what is so different about Kathy and her friends and the England they live in are hinted at throughout the novel but it’s not until the end that you really realize that you know what is going on. I couldn’t stop reading to ponder what that was until after I read the last line and only then did I realize just how much Kathy’s narrative is so stark against the plot and life of the characters in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.

I truly did enjoy this book and would suggest it to those who enjoy novels that are written eloquently and deal with subjects that are different and might be a little tough to read. Heavy subject matter such as “What is a soul and does everyone have one?” are explored in a unique, and somewhat deprecating, way that might be difficult for some to read and enjoy in a novel but I think that would be a reason for having people read it. It’s not until one is faced with the realities, or possible realities, of the darker part of life that can one make a change.

Although I know the writing was meant to contrast the subject matter, I wish Kathy had been more approachable and that the love between characters didn’t come across as so one-sided until the very end.

I will definitely be reading more of Kazuo Ishiguro’s work. Suggest, if any, what I should read next!