Thursday, 3 March 2011

Book Review - Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go is written by contemporary Japanese-English writer Kazuo Ishiguro and was published in 2005. 

The plot is mainly based on three characters; Tommy, Ruth and Kathy but its their unique friendship, gloomy circumstances and their reactions to the challenges in the face of these circumstances, which creates the sad storyline. The trio grow up in what appears to be a special creative boarding school in a mysterious place called Hailsham. There is no mention of mothers and fathers or siblings, simply guardians and a fearful woman called Madame. Without revealing too much of the plot the meticulously-written novel unfolds as the narrating character Kathy takes us on an intriguing journey through their individual lives filled with hopes and losses. Meanwhile all three friends are also part of the bigger picture of British society as 'doners' and 'carers' in a special national medicinal program, which like many phenominal scientific discoveries, appears controversial and has its own set of faults. 

Never Let Me Go has been categorised in the literary world as a Science Fiction novel, however in my opinion it is far from that. Unlike other adult Science Fiction novels, such as Stephanie Meyer's The Host, Ishiguro does not reveal in detail, all aspects of this special program, as well as excluding a description of how it all works. Ambiguous terms like 'completing', 'Veterans' and 'possibles', with no clear or apparant definitions, are thrown into the novel, to fill any major gaps about the program. It could be that this is supposed to be part of the charm of the novel but I thought it particularly awkward to leave your only audience, the reader and his or her's imagination, in the dark. Not forgetting it is frustrating to be left guessing.

Also, although the novel is wonderfully structured with flowing, excellent prose from page one, I was often anxious to skip pages and read what was ahead. Not because it was such an exciting read, but because I wanted to get to the action-packed peak of the story, perhaps a epic, sudden tradegy. The Event that makes your heart race.  

Big revelation. There is none. I was left mentally screaming at the characters to escape, fight or approach the system of the program that left them doomed!   

However on a positive note it is nothing like any other fiction novel I have ever read. After finishing the novel it leaves you lost in thought about how human characteristics such as greed and selfishness, can lead within society, take power, spread inequality and create pain that is of the worse type. Pain which is purposefully ignored.
To conclude, I give Never Let Me Go 3/5. It is not brilliant or in my opinion even deserving of its acknowlegement; Book of the Year 2005 (as gifted by Times magazine). Nevertheless it presents a unique insight into the possible future of mankind and just because the plotline doesn't slap you in the face, does not mean it doesn't pinch your cheeks a little- catching your attention and imagination. 

A good read. I do recommend you read it. Feel free to ask me questions. :D

Happy World Book Day