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Never Let Me Go [Hardcover]

Kazuo Ishiguro
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (548 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Mar 2005

Kazuo Ishiguro has been acclaimed in the Sunday Times for 'extending the possibilities of fiction'. In Never Let Me Go he has fashioned another remarkable story - a story of love, loss and hidden truths - that takes its place among his finest work.

Kathy, Ruth and Tommy were pupils at Hailsham - an idyllic establishment situated deep in the English countryside. The children there were tenderly sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe they were special, and that their personal welfare was crucial. But for what reason were they really there?

It is only years later that Kathy, now aged thirty-one, finally allows herself to yield to the pull of memory. What unfolds is the haunting story of how Kathy, Ruth and Tommy slowly come to face the truth about their seemingly happy childhoods - and about their futures.

Never Let Me Go is a uniquely moving novel, charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of our lives.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; 1st edition (3 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571224113
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571224111
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (548 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kazuo Ishiguro is the author of six novels, A Pale View of Hills (1982, Winifred Holtby Prize), An Artist of the Floating World (1986, Whitbread Book of the Year Award, Primio Scanno, shortlisted for the Booker Prize), The Remains of the Day (1989, winner of the Booker Prize), The Unconsoled (1995, winner of the Cheltenham Prize), When We Were Orphans (2000, shortlisted for the Booker Prize) and Never Let Me Go (2005, shortlisted for the MAN Booker Prize), and a book of stories, Nocturnes (2009). He received an OBE for Services to Literature in 1995, and the French decoration of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1998.

Product Description


"'Ishiguro is the best and most original novelist of his generation.' Susan Hill, Mail on Sunday"

Book Description

Kazuo Ishiguro's acclaimed bestseller, now repackaged to tie-in with a major film release. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
I found this book deeply disturbing and was unsettled for a long time after reading this novel.

The story concerns a group of children who appear to live an idyllic life in school in the country, but an evil fate awaits them the implications of which slowly become clear.

I am very enthusiastic about Ishiguro's prose style, he writes simply and boldly, and the result is not stark but rather beautiful storytelling; each paragraph has an intensity worth savouring. The horror of their situation is revealed calmly, without any fuss or melodrama. The characters have only the language of euphemism to describe the fate which awaits them, and this helps keep the dreadful fate awaiting them a secret. I don't wish to spoil the surprise, by telling anything more explicitly, but suffice to say this is a story of a whole society's evil being visited on a group of people, and how the victims cope or don't.

I recommend this story whole-heartedly.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shell-shocked 1 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Contains spoilers.

My wife's reading group chose this book but didn't like it. Then they had a film evening, watched the screen version and didn't like that either. Being the Contrary Mary that I am, when I saw a bargain copy of Never let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro in my local bookstore I had to grab it and read from cover to cover, trying to understand how and why it could have been Booker prize short listed. The answer is simple - it's a masterpiece of subtlety (I still don't understand why the reading group didn't like it). I do realise I'm the last person on the planet to discover this book.
Ishiguro's world only differs to reality in one respect; the ethics of cloning and transplants. This novel is all about the coming of age of three key individuals for whom that difference is material. Their innocence and fatalism had a devastating effect on me. Bred and nurtured for a purpose, these young people move towards their end and 'complete' without coercion.
Religion has no part in this tale and the time period through which events travel is contemporary. That shook me even more with music, cars and cassette tapes giving time-stamps that moved the start of this alternative reality back to post WWII. If we had emerged from that era with a different ethos, if certain attitudes to genetics and superior / inferior race had prevailed, then who knows?
I have to confess I did itch to know the nitty gritty details of being a donor, the fourth donation and completion, but this novel is all the more powerful for avoiding the specifics. Ishiguro does get painfully close to explaining when Tommy and Kathy meet Miss Emily and Madame in their search for deferral, but he recovers the enigmatic delivery style in good time.
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153 of 161 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Organic Experience 16 Mar 2006
Never Let Me Go is in some ways more straightforward than most of Kazuo Ishiguro's novels, and more fully comprehensible than any since his masterpiece The Remains of the Day. And yet there is still enough lightness of detail and wealth of moral ambiguity to justify much strokey-chin thought after the last page has been closed, and even to warrant an early re-read.
The setting of the book is "England, late 1990s," but not as we know it. We can tell this even from the limited narrative offered by Kathy, who tells us very little of the real world outside her immediate (and past) environs. There are words dropped innocently but sinisterly: donations, carers, completing, none of which have the meanings we understand. Kathy was a student at Hailsham, a residential institution for children which educated them and encouraged creative expression, but was not quite a school... They are being prepared for lives as 'carers' and 'donors', and they are a form of experiment made possible by advances in technology which, in this parallel world, came in the 1950s but which we are only seeing now.
To say more than this would ruin the story, as there are two mighty coups of revelation delivered about a quarter and halfway through the book, which resonate through the rest of the story and are quite impossible to free from your mind. The impression I get, however, is that Ishiguro is less interested in the sci-fi aspect of this than in using it as an allegory for us all, the stunted limitations of many of our lives, and our blithe acceptance of our ultimate fate.
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128 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Tense 9 Nov 2006
I am compelled to write here in response to the various reviews preceding mine which complain that the book is not sufficiently 'believable' to be merited.

These readers question such things as how the 'donors' would be able to donate vital organs up to four times and survive. I dont personally think that this is at all important. Maybe their metabolism was different? Maybe they had different renewing capabilities to a 'normal' human? Maybe the term vital organ also incorporates such things as bone marrow. Does it matter? Reading should not be about the author delivering everything to the reader on a plate but a partnership between author and reader.

Some readers also say they wanted rebellion. Yet for me it is the tacit unquestioning acceptance of the students to their fate that makes this novel so unbearably heart breaking and stay with you for long after you have put it down.

The plot is dark, and sinister which is emphasised through the juxtapostition of the youth and innocence of the characters and Ishiguro's childlike sylistic approach and the use of Kathy, as his narrator.

Use of language as well also adds to the darkness of this novel. For me one of the sadest aspects of the whole story was that the donors "completed". They didn't "die", they simply had a task to do, and when it was done they had completed it.

The trip for Ruth's 'possible', the army to protect Miss Geraldine, are similarly wrenching moments in the story. Poignant demonstations of a young child yearning a sense of belonging from a family she had never known and would never have.

This is NOT a book about science, this is a disturbing and unsettling book about people, about life, about emotion and about environmental influence.

I would give it as many stars as were available. Unfortunately I am limited to five.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written but leaves you with a chill
Impeccably written in a deceptively simple, almost conversational style, this book grips you from the first page. Read more
Published 4 days ago by tangerina
4.0 out of 5 stars Different
I had previously read "Remains of the Day", which is why I chose to read this book. Although I enjoyed it, I felt it fell short of being deserving of 5 stars.
Published 10 days ago by Mrs. B. D. Hollidge
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart rending study - thought provoking
I came across this novel when a student used it in his dissertation. I saw the film and felt compelled to read the book. Lots of philosophical issues raised in the themes. Read more
Published 11 days ago by bagpusspal
1.0 out of 5 stars What?
This book seemed a bit lost and a bit boring. Did not enjoy it.
What was going on in it?
Published 12 days ago by Katrina Rolinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and heartbraking
Don't let the utterly terrible movie adaptation of this book put you off or misguide you. Ishiguro creeps up on you in this one, as Perec in his masterpiece 'W': he introduces a... Read more
Published 13 days ago by FM
4.0 out of 5 stars never let me go
The story line of this book is absolutely amazing and if you interested in dystopian this you must have and must read books
Published 14 days ago by customer
3.0 out of 5 stars film better.
curious, but the film is better than the book. maybe it's because i saw the film first and expected the book to be a more in-depth version of the book. Read more
Published 15 days ago by simon elliott
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
A fantastic, intelligent and beautiful read that I just couldn't put down!
Ishiguro has written a magnificent masterpiece that really gets you thinking...
Published 17 days ago by Alison Downs
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Excellent idea for a story but never really grabbed me. Not keen on the style in which it was wriiten
Published 18 days ago by Tuffy
5.0 out of 5 stars For me, a must read...Compelling.
Ishiguro takes us to a dark place we could do well to is mirrored in its sweet start and darker ending.
Published 21 days ago by Anne M A Godley
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