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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling masterpiece, his best since Remains of the Day
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...
Published on 1 Aug 2007 by Bolandini

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Give into story's premise and you will enjoy
I enjoyed this book as indeed clearly have most of the other reviewers. I'm not sure I can add much other than to express what worked and didn't work for me.

I liked the simple style of the narrator Kate, her language was engaging and realistic and felt genuine. Her story from childhood to adult `carer' alongside her friends Tommy and Ruth was believable and...
Published on 11 Mar 2010 by H. Tee


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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Thought Experiment?, 27 Sep 2009
By 
K. Symes (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Paperback)
This is the first book I've read by Ishiguro, and I was pleasantly surprised by his clear, plain style with none of the gimmicks of some modern authors. It is written in the first person, by a female narrator who slowly reveals, through a series of reminiscenses the predicament she and her friends are in. They have been brought into the world by cloning for spare part surgery, which takes place when they are young adults in a series of donations which inevitably results in their death.

This is the macabre core of the plot, and I found it quite nauseating. At the same time, as a thought experiment, it was intriguing to see how the characters responded as they discovered their fate,and this kept me reading. I found their behaviour unbelievably passive, and desperately wanted one of the characters to escape, or to even think of escaping.

An easy and quick read - but not exactly 'light'
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Friendship and ethics, 6 Dec 2006
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Paperback)
There were so many questions to be answered as I read this intriguing novel. Initially I was making basic guesses about the plot and characters. Why are the children there? Who are the guardians? What's the gallery? These questions kept me reading as the plot unfolded.

The childhood scenes were plausible and realistic; Kazuo Ishiguro gets right inside a child's way of thinking and speaking and has the right blend of childhood fantasy and reality within the kids' games.

The characters continually refered to 'donations' and various euphemisms (such as 'completed') in a casual manner. By the time that the children's destiny was finally explicity stated - long into the book - I'd almost become used to the idea. It was therefore less shocking and more believable than if it had been spelt out in the first few pages.

The book lead me to question the treatment of different people and the relationship between life's purpose, hope and disappointment. Should it matter how the main characters are treated initially bearing in mind their destiny? I drew parallels with animal vivisection - do we treat lab animals in this way?

In addition to the ethical thread, I also enjoyed the sustained, intense & sad romantic element of thwarted love.

I found this a fantastic thought-provoking book which gets to the heart of the issues and personalises the ethics. I really want to read his other novels now.

My score for our book group was 9 out of 10.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shell-shocked, 1 Jun 2012
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (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.
An analogous interpretation of Never Let Me Go's fatalistic overall theme is not to be recommended unless you're in the company of great friends and good wine, and can face the possibility of life's futility.
Not a feel good book, but nevertheless a wondrous read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sadness, inevitability, and the damned, 22 Oct 2012
By 
Anthony Behan (Cork, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Paperback)
(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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but has flaws., 13 May 2006
By 
K. Eddingotn "Kat" (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Paperback)
I loved the whole concept of the book, and the descriptions of the School life of Kathy and her friends for me was the best part of the book. One thing that really disappointed me though was the ending - i just kept wondering why not a single character ever contemplated running away and beginning their dream lives since they were so obsessed with them. Also, the characters were a little undeveloped - they had one main characteristic above others, and they didn't all seem to be fully explored as characters. The theme of a socially excluded group coming to terms with their fate however was wonderful, and overall i would recommend it, as long as the flaws are kept in mind!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary, 20 Feb 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Hardcover)
Once in a while you read a book that moves you in such a way that it seems to take a place in you and never leave it. This happened for me with this book.
I think I was lucky to pick this book out of chance; I didn’t know anything about it, and almost nothing about its author (if it wasn’t for the cinema adaptation of his ‘Remains of the Day’, I would have known nothing about Kazuo Ishiguro). And I loved every word of it, I relished every sentence, every page; it took me through its own pace and I never wanted to get to the end. The story of Ruth, Tommy and Kath, told by the latter, describes an extraordinary world of fragility and violence, of life and death, of hope and fear. Not knowing anything about the plot or the characters allowed me to discover the story unfold as if I was opening a treasure chest and finding one amazing thing after another. So if you don’t know what this book is about, don’t read more reviews (I won’t give it away here!) and give yourself the chance to find out by yourself.
This is probably one of those books you love or you hate, it touches you or misses you altogether, but can’t leave you indifferent. Ishiguro’s style is very unique and special, and he shares his imagination and talent with great generosity and care. On the surface it doesn’t seem like a lot happens in this book, so if you are one for action and fast-paced stories, this is probably not for you. The terrible things that this story reveals are told in a very understated way. Ishiguro describes his characters and their lives with an amazing sense of detail, and it is through the small things (a gesture, a smile, a glance, a word) that he manages to reveal so much, very much like a great painter would with a portrait. To me, this is a masterpiece.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An 'exercise' in ambiguity..but all eventually becomes clear, 2 Aug 2008
By 
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Paperback)
I confess to not reading much fiction in my lifetime, but when I was a kid I did read quite a lot of children's novels (my favourites being Just William and The Famous Five). The opening to Never Let Me Go instantly propelled me back to those junior years, with the setting, the characters and Mr. Ishiguro's style of prose being wholly reminiscent of the English-esque adventures of Enid Blyton's famous quintet. However any resemblance to anything I'd read before quickly dispeled as the story unfolded, and I realised that Halisham, the `boarding school' that the first part of the story was solely centred on, was a place that could never be found in an Enid Blyton story; that Halisham was a school with a difference.

This is not to say that Mr. Ishiguro comes right out and tells the reader that Halisham is far from norm, instead he slips strange, and seemingly out-of-context nouns into the narrative, such as 'donations', 'guardians', 'possibles' etc., to get the reader's mind thinking. He also increases the ambiguity of the story by describing unusual activities, such as the regular visitations to Halisham by the mysterious Madame, and her quest to find art additions for the `gallery'.

Ambiguous is probably the perfect word to describe the feeling one gets when reading the bulk of this novel. In the latter chapters all, or at least most, of the obscurity is cleared up, but for the most part the reader is left very much `in the dark' about what exactly is going on. This sounds like a bad thing, but it's not really. Mr. Ishiguro injects just the right amount of intrigue into the story, to instill the reader with enough curiosity to make him/her read on - which is pure genius on Mr. Ishiguro's part.

Friendship and trust emerge as the most important themes in Never Let Me Go. Given that the `students' are related by a common bond, and live mainly as an isolated collective, it's not surprising to see these themes explored so fully. However the point of note is how well Mr. Ishiguro treats these humanistic themes, especially through his main characters - Kath, Ruth and Tommy. Not surprisingly, given that the focus of part of the novel occurs during puberty, sexual exploration is another theme explored to some extent. However Mr. Ishiguro treats the theme quite eloquently, never going into graphic detail, but making it clear how important, and indeed sanctified, sexual exploration is to the characters.

So do I consider Never Let Me Go to be a good novel, worthy of its 2005 Booker Prize `shortlisting'? Ultimately I'd say yes, definitely; the story may not have been one I expected (no bad thing), but it was one that I enjoyed. I wouldn't consider it to be one of the best novels I've read so far, but neither would I consider it to be one of the worst either. Mr. Ishiguro's skill in characterisation is clearly evident, as is his ability to interweave different time-frames into a story. For those reasons alone Never Let Me Go is, in my opinion, a worthy read. Just be prepared to spend a lot of your time reading this at first, in a state of bewildered puzzlement.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love it or hate it, 2 Mar 2007
By 
Mrs. K. A. Smurthwaite "Kell" (Aberdeen, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Paperback)
This is one of those daring books that really pushes the boundaries in terms of the social issues it tackles. It's uncomfortable to read, but still manages to draw one into the story in quite a personal way. I found myself identifying with the students of Hailsham, who were all completely resigned to their fate and never once even considered the possibility of just walking away and refusing to have their destinies foisted upon them.

In terms of action, there's absolutely no heady excitement - the pace is quite gentle with milestones marked only by basic rites of passage as the students grow up, yet there's always a sense of something bubbling under the surface and the future, although never really overtly mentioned, nor discussed in any detail, is something yet to come (almost like a reverse case of "jam tomorrow", where everyone knows that the future is certain and just blindly accepts it. It's this feeling of total acceptance that makes it such a tragedy.

It's impossible to discuss this novel in even the very vaguest of senses without giving something away, and even if you already know a little of what to expect, it's still rather hard-hitting and incredibly touching. This is one of those books that will stick in the memory for a long time after the last page has been turned.

Like marmite, you'll either love it or hate it.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant for a first taste of this author, 9 Mar 2005
By 
Mrs. Angela Clark (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Hardcover)
To be perfectly honest, I found the Remains of the Day a boring film, and bought this book not knowing it was by the same author, due to a review I had read in the Evening Standard.
I devoured it in one sitting. The story begins straight away, without any distracting and annoying "set the scene" detail. You are immediately hooked as the lead character Kathy starts discussing her impending fate and describes life the led up to this moment.
Although this book is a thoughtful and revealing treatise on the effects of medical advancement, it is also an engaging story about how one's past actions can resonate in later life. I suspect any publicity that surrounds this book will focus on the ethical issues it raises, but please don't let that put you off. The human elements of the story relating to the haracters is poignant and revealing. The main character suffers due to the actions of her best friend, at school ( I won't say any more than this so as not to spoil the story) and although the initial slight seems trivial for these special people it has exceptional consequences.
I would recommend this book to anyone. I am genuinely surprised I found it so addictive even though the author is not known for his warm and engaging writing style. Say goodbye to your evening once you have bought it!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever, sneaky, beautiful, 18 May 2006
By 
J. Wilcox - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Paperback)
True, you find yourself wanting more from the characters than you realise they can achieve, but the way Ishiguro describes their lives and links it to the reader's experience of the book is masterful. Please don't read on if you like being led along like the protagonists themselves - he does it so well that you're proud of him when you figure out what's going on.

The thing that stuck with me was the way that he described the children's learning processess, and how they always felt they were being told things too soon, while they were too young to understand them. He does this to the reader throughout the book, dropping hints and leaving trails, telling you things before you're ready to figure it out for yourself.

The downside is that the characters are so familiar that you really want them to break out and find their place in life, and only too late do you realise that they can't. And you do feel angry at them that it doesn't occur to them to try harder.

It is, however, beautifully crafted. As a reader, to be so deftly manipulated by an author is at once infuriating and satisfying. I feel like I should have figured it all out in the first few pages, but wanted to stick around to the end anyway.
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Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (Paperback - 2 Mar 2006)
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