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Never Let Me Go [Paperback]

Kazuo Ishiguro
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (573 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.

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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 (573 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 206,785 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 64 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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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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136 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something strange in the mirror 5 Sep 2006
First off, let's get this out of the way: this is NOT a book about the ethics of human cloning; nor is it (in any conventional sense) "Science Fiction". Not that there is anything wrong with Sci-Fi: I've read and enjoyed a lot of it over the years. However, this definitely isn't it - it has much more in common with Kafka than with Philip K. Dick.

Ishiguro's tale is both moving and sinister from the start, and gets increasingly so as it goes on. In a darkly dreamlike Parallel England, a self-styled "ex-student" at what initially seems to be a boarding school deep in the country is recounting (in a deliberately flat, almost Enid-Blytonesque style) the childhood experiences of herself and her best friends. However, Ishiguro makes it abundantly clear from the first couple of pages onwards that all of the "students" are destined for a sticky end: indeed, one of the main points of the book is that the students are fully aware of their eventual fate even from a young age. They understand this information on a factual level, and even make crude jokes about it, but they have never properly internalised the full implications. For this reason among others, they passively accept the inhuman horror that awaits them.

For me, Ishiguro clearly intends the book as a sort of dream-parable to say various things about the human condition in general. Firstly, if we grow up with a horror (nuclear weapons, say, or Third World poverty - Ishiguro silently invites the reader to make his or her own list), then human nature is to take it for granted as an immutable Fact of Life and just accept it. The eventual fate of the Hailsham "students" is one that no sane person could possibly endorse: and that's exactly the point.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Definitely a desert island book.
Published 8 days ago by Christopher Spalding
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good read.
Published 10 days ago by J. C. CRONIN
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 12 days ago by gill22
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling
An unusual boarding school brings up children with a future that has been set: they are to be donors, donating their organs one-by-one until they die. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Hannah Lewis
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea
I quite enjoyed this book although it didn't really grip me like others have.It was easy enough to read and it was an interesting concept although the characters were not really... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Harvey
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking read
Oh my goodness what a disturbing story. A time when human clones are created so there organs can be harvested later in there lives. Read more
Published 16 days ago by jane boss
5.0 out of 5 stars Outrageous but credible
Fabulouse thought provoking story throwing the reader into a horrific but totally convincing future scenario. Clones bred for spare parts to prolong human life and health. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Pam
1.0 out of 5 stars Dystopian masterpiece? I think not.
Boring, twee dialogue, unoriginal idea. I was much looking forward to reading this given its acclaim but I was sorely disappointed and had to stop reading a quarter of the way... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Stacey Tong
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
I love that this book continuously refers back to the past. It was an easy read but beautifully written. A must read!
Published 20 days ago by Sapna
4.0 out of 5 stars Very thought provoking especially in the light of today`s research ...
Very thought provoking especially in the light of today`s research and use of developments with DNA and stem cell etc. The story was gripping and kept one guessing. Read more
Published 22 days ago by A N Bookworm
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