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Never Let Me Go | Kazuo Ishiguro | Review

Never Let Me Go cover

“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.” 

Never Let Me Go is set in a re-imagined version of England with the idyllic English countryside the backdrop to the novel.

Kathy is a 30 year old woman who's quiet adult life is interrupted by her past, in the form of her two friends from school, Ruth and Tommy. The three grew up in Hailsham, a sheltered private school cut off from the outside world. On the surface Hailsham students are brought up to be well rounded and happy, lead to believe their perfect childhood and health will one day be of service to society.

As Kathy rekindles her friendship with Ruth, she reflects on her life at Hailsham and beyond, questioning the meaning behind her own life and purpose, and her confusing relationship with Tommy. Her memory starts in the Hailsham classrooms with the rest of the school's special children, where creativity and health are encouraged. The children are isolated but seem content enough to live their lives in this way - in fact the outside world both excites and terrifies them at times.

The world only get more confusing at the Hailsham children enter young adulthood and leave the confines of the school, before accepting their inevitable fate to 'service society'.

Never Let Me Go spine

So what's my verdict?

I realised whilst writing this review that Never Let Me Go is probably one of the hardest novels to describe without it sounding a) like it's a cheesy romantic drama and b) a weird school version of Stepford wives. In reality, the story and tone of Never Let Me Go is so unique that it simply doesn't fit into perfect genre box.

Kathy's passive narrative style allows the science fiction elements of the story to blend quietly into the background, whilst the reader concentrates on the purely human side of the story. Her relationships with both Tommy and Ruth are so uniquely different to each other, yet the three are inexplicably tied together right until the very end.

This is a very simple novel but Ishiguro manages to tie in themes of death, betrayal, friendship and love, all the while exploring the meaning of life and the idea of souls with the story getting more and more complex the closer you look.

Reading Soundtrack:

Never Let Me Go: Florence + the Machine; Sunshine & City Lights: Greyson Chance; Always You: Ingrid Michaelson; Secrets: One Republic; Seeing Other People: Belle & Sebastian; Everything Has Changed: Taylor Swift ft Ed Sheeran; Hallelujah: Jeff Buckley

For lovers of

The movie adaptation of Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro's work, Huxley's Brave New World and Lowry's The Giver.

The review was written by Ria, find out more about her here!
*all images (c) Ria Cagampang

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