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Never Let Me Go [Paperback]

Kazuo Ishiguro
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (581 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Mar 2006

'A clear frontrunner to be the year's most extraordinary novel . . . Not since The Remains of the Day has Ishiguro written about wasted lives with such finely gauged forlornness.' Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

In one of the most acclaimed and strange 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.

Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; New edition edition (2 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057122413X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571224135
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.6 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (581 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 239,399 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


'Opressively brilliant... Ishiguro's most profound statement of the endurance of human relationships... the most exact and affecting of his books to date.' --Tim Adams, Observer

'A master stoyteller ... In this deceptively sad novel, he simply uses a science-fiction framework to throw light on ordinary human life, the human soul, human sexuality, love, creativity and childhood innocence. He does so with devastating effect.' --Independent

'A clear frontrunner to be the year's most extraordinary novel... Not since The Remains of the Day has Ishiguro written about wasted lives with such finely gauged forlornness.' --Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

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
63 of 65 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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156 of 164 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sadness, inevitability, and the damned 22 Oct 2012
(Some small spoiler effects...)

I thought it was a great book. I read it in two sittings.

Sometimes authors can be too clever. Their books are too long, their language too complex, their references arcane. Not here. This is in many ways a simple book, but deeply rich for that. It engages the reader, makes them think, forces the reader to fill in the gaps between the narrator's account and the likely reality. Sometimes in my head I was screaming at the characters - why don't you do this, or that...and then realising that I could do nothing about it. And not because I was a reader, and they were characters; but because that's how all of us are, sometimes trapped like rats in a maze, knowing no other way to live. Like small town people who stay in their small towns, we don't need to know more because we're strangely contented, despite relative privation.

While these characters have limited lives, perhaps they are more like the rest of us than we'd care to admit. We limit ourselves in so many ways, by default, design, or simple ignorance. Much of the harshness of life we choose to hide, to ignore. No one visits the sausage factory on a school tour. Few aspire to be undertakers. There is little glamour in pathology, and so we block it out, we pretend it's not there. As we age, we become more aware of death and decay, but still we push it to one side. There's nothing wrong with death in itself, it's just a natural thing. Yet we prefer to not think about it.

Lovely book, deeply moving - the best I've read in some time.
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130 of 138 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
1.0 out of 5 stars Ver disappointing
Awful, awful, awful - why are people raving about this?
Published 5 days ago by kidzbookdetective
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Prompt delivery. Worth a read.
Published 9 days ago by Stephanie Vorce
5.0 out of 5 stars A true horror story, all the more effective for its commonplace...
I initially found the apparent banality of the story off-putting, but as the real horror slowly emerged, the narrative became increasingly compelling. Read more
Published 12 days ago by W. Albert
4.0 out of 5 stars Avoid Searching About This Online To Get The Full Experience
A good read which is longer then I thought but enjoyed every bit of it.

The book is hard to talk about without spoiling and you would have to avoid searching... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Suo Sukei
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work
Didn't enjoy this as much as some of his other works, I think it is unlikely I would ever re-read this one.
Published 18 days ago by Tony P.
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading but liked the movie a bit more
I liked it a lot. Very interesting to see how the author imagines a world where some people are "bred" just to be organ donors. The story is touching, and well written. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Irene
3.0 out of 5 stars Did not enjoy as much as previous books by this author
a bit of a weird plot.futuristic and spooky.Did not enjoy as much as previous books by this author.
Published 25 days ago by anne elizabeth hackett
5.0 out of 5 stars Would recommend....
Very good book. Quite emotional. I loved the characters. A sad ending. Would recommend
Published 1 month ago by stelly
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Definitely a desert island book.
Published 1 month ago by Christopher Spalding
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good read.
Published 1 month ago by J. C. CRONIN
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