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Never Let Me Go Paperback – 25 Feb 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 810 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (25 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571258093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571258093
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (810 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"'A clear frontrunner to be the year's most extraordinary novel.' Peter Kemp, Sunday Times" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Never Let Me Go is the acclaimed bestseller by Kazuo Ishiguro, author of the Booker Prize-winning novel, The Remains of the Day and The Buried Giant. Now a major film adaptation starring Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan.

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This reads like chick-lit. The character narrating the story, 31-year-old Kathy H., could just as easily have sprung out of a Sophie Kinsella or Marian Keyes novel (which is a remarkable achievement alone by the writer, a male, to recreate such a feminine voice). Her description of her school days, from roughly age 10 to 18, reads like a modern-day Mallory Towers: the petty squabbles, practical jokes, conspiracy theories and ruthless teasing; the in-groups, out-groups and trying to fit in; the school art fayres, the midnight dormitory chats, are all reminiscent of an idyllic school career and the characters highly believeable; in fact, it may remind you of chunks of your own school days, the forgotten good bits. It's a light, easy-flowing read, and this is where it is so deceptive: the dark and limited future that awaits the children, which they are aware of from a young age, have no apparent fear for even as young adults facing the imminence of it, and even become competitive about: 'carers' and 'donors' form their own in-groups, congratulating each other on their 'achievements'.
Ishiguro offers no explanation for why or how, and no scientific clarification - the children, as adults, set off on their own quest for answers, which mostly centre on the mysterious 'Madame' and her 'gallery': Why does she want to collect their best artwork, and why is it so important that they apply themselves to their art and writing, that they be creative? (Indeed, other than sports, it appears nothing besides art and English are taught at the élite Hailsham boarding school). Why is Tommy berated for his lack of artistic skills? Why does Madame appear 'afraid' of them, 'the way people are scared of spiders'?
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Never let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

The two novels by Ishiguro that I have so far read, The Remains of the Day, and this one, present the theme of emotional blindness and/or repression. Stevens, the butler in The Remains of the Day, is unable to express his true but deeply repressed feelings of love for Miss Kenton owing to the overbearing demands he has developed for himself. He believes that he must never act in a way that would undermine his manner as an ever dignified butler. This falsely-based notion brings about his (and Miss Kenton’s) tragedy, that of a man incomplete as a human being in not being able to express love and affection in a natural way, including sexual relations.

In Never Let Me Go all the characters have, in Miss Lucy’s words, ‘been told but not told’ about the dreadful fate that awaits them. In other words their education and upbringing and the fact that they have all been cloned, have removed a large proportion of their ability to respond emotionally to this destiny. In this there is an obvious parallel with Stevens in The Remains of the Day in respect of the children's deep repression of emotions. They have been created purely as a sort of living stockpile of organs for transplanting into diseased patients. They all know this, yet they ‘not know it’ because, it seems, they have been hypnotised to ignore or repress the truth.

Thus in this novel we are presented with a nightmarish dystopian scenario. The way the characters are presented gives us, as readers, feelings of empathy and even affection for them. But they themselves are unable to react to their situation. They are passive, almost like zombies in their lack of emotional response.
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This is my first Ishiguro novel. I read it, having had my curiosity raised when I saw the film. Though it is invidious to compare the two quite different formats, I have to say I got a lot more from the book, though admittedly it must have been devilishly difficult to convert into a screenplay.

The book has over 300 Amazon reviews, so I guess I cannot add very much by way of yet another, but I was so challenged by it that I thought I might offer a few words. This is a book the reader has to work hard with. What I found so engaging about it is the contrast between its very simple literary style (almost Blyton-esque) and its very profound subject matter. It can be read on at least 3 levels, and as the pages progressed, I kept switching from one to another.

On one level it is a tale of young people, who are not young people. They are clones, manufactured by man with a sole purpose - to provide spare parts to revitalise the ill and infirm. But they have many of the normal characteristics of young people - and the author forces you to empathise with them by giving one of them the task of telling the story - you see things from her perspective. They come across, not as any sub-human beings, but as real people with real feelings, yet sentenced to an awful inevitable predestination. Relationships between the young people are beautifully drawn with repeatedly poignant understatement, and given their destiny, ones heart goes out to them. And one is never certain what human characteristics they been allowed to retain, and what they are deprived of. So, for instance, they can almost certainly love one another but appear not to be able to experience grief. I found this uncertainty puzzling, but it certainly added to the intrigue.
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