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Never Let Me Go
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on 17 March 2010
Showered with praise, this book carries over three pages worth of endorsements from such authoritative sources such as The Times, and with a Booker nomination, `Never Let me Go' is presented as literature of the highest merit. It is however, profoundly unconvincing and tedious to boot.

It should be noted that this is in every way Science Fiction. In recent years, SF books written by non-SF authors have emerged, and been enjoyed by readers who never go near the SF shelf in their local bookshops. Cormac McCarthy's `The Road' and Audrey Niffenegger's `The Time Traveller's Wife' are good examples of books which engender fans to say `Yes, but it's not really science fiction, its actually about humanity and emotions.' People who don't usually read SF should not be extolling on whether a particular book is or is not of the genre, labouring under the misapprehension that if it doesn't have bug-eyed aliens and laser guns, it doesn't count. All good SF is about humanity and then most of that is about emotions. Marketing needs engendered by the stigma still attached to SF means these books get labelled `literary' and snuck out on the shelves next to the historical fiction and modern satires. But in every case, one can ask; if the science or speculative element is removed, can the same story be told? If the answer is `no' then you undoubtedly have SF. If the answer is `yes' then you have a poorly conceived story with a dreadful gimmick.

This very question is somewhat moot, because `Never Let Me Go' has such a paucity of plot that its relationship to the speculative element is at best tenuous. That this speculative element is also so poorly realised, means it doesn't even count as a gimmick. Would the author have been better off excising it altogether? If his authorial intentions were any clearer, a definitive answer could be offered, but as any moralistic or philosophical message is so inexplicit, the novel takes on something of Rorschach-blot quality- it is so indistinct that one is obliged to project their own interpretations on to it. This means the book could be interpreted as a Frankenstein-like warning against science run amuck, or a terse meditation on the nature of friendship - the obscured nature of intention means ultimately it fails as either.

If we are to assume that this book is indeed about cloning then it is very much from the mind of not only an amateur, but a luddite. Although the science is avoided altogether, the story makes gross assumptions about society's use of it that it renders the argument a straw man. Even given the technology to create parentless clones, the idea that they would be raised to adulthood and then harvested for organs suggests a culture so ethically far from our own that the story ceases to be about our culture. Where after all are Amnesty international to champion the cause of the clones? Indeed, why are the guardians so complicit in what ultimately is mass murder? Admittedly, such atrocious attitudes to minorities have existed historically, and persist in other parts of the world - but not in modern secular democratic England where this book is set. The alternate reality conjured and specifically the behaviour of the guardians is so alien to the reality that currently exists, that the novel simply cannot be taken as a serious comment on society.

Late in the book a character bemoans the modern age as being more scientific, but yet more harsh and uncaring. Debate the truth of such a comment as applied to our world all you like, but the world presented here is not ours and the differences are huge. And if science is to be the target, then target it. Cloning in and of itself is not immoral but amoral. Morality comes when society applies a science. Cloning does not lead inevitably to mass murder - that takes a society. And when atrocities occur, blaming the science and the technology is indeed easy, but also larcenous. Such an attitude is not only profoundly luddite, but also rather poorly thought-out and wilfully ignorant of the facts. The author would have done well to read a few books about cloning - both factual and fiction - before writing this one, as he approaches the subject with such a lack of understanding as to make any observations redundant. The very existence of stem-cell science makes the novel's central premise painfully antiquated. At one point, the question of whether the clones have souls is raised - this is a philosophically juvenile proposition that is rendered impotent by the very existence of cloning in nature - nobody would ask a similar question of identical twins.

But if the society presented is indeed meant to be our own, then perhaps I am projecting too much humanity on the `students'. Are they perhaps regarded merely as cattle awaiting slaughter and reprocessing. If this is the case (and the lifeless quality of the characters involved does lend some credence to it) then with whom am I to sympathise? If they are not people, if they have no souls, then why should I care? If they are people and have souls, then why don't the guardians care more about their survival?

If the guardians are complicit in the murder, then so are the students and herein lies a plot hole so large that suspension of disbelief becomes simply too much work. Why don't they escape? That every single character is given ample opportunity and means to fly from their dreadful fate and not one of them attempts it suggests either a system of restraint that exists nowhere on the page, or a dimension of character that is also unrevealed. A character is described as clinging to life while on the final operating table - one wonders why none of the others cling to life when they have a chance. Although the opportunity to escape death exists, why the characters can't, or won't do so is left frustratingly unspoken to the point where the implausibility of the whole situation is rendered total. This complete lack of coherence beggars other questions about the nature of the clones - if they are human, then why don't they have rights? If they don't have rights, then do they have responsibility and culpability? If they do not have culpability for their actions, then who does? And why would they be allowed to roam freely without supervision, to drive cars? What would have happened if on their trip to Norfolk, they had been involved in a car crash and killed someone else? And already, I feel I have dragged the concept into far more interesting territory than the author even approached.

These kind of questions only reinforce a level of interaction with the external world that not only the characters, but the story as a whole completely avoids. The characters and the writing is so insular that they appear to exist in a vacuum. While at school, there is no sense of a world outside their environment which feels utterly false. Boarding schools can indeed be isolated places, but the students therein are still alive to the community that surrounds them, the culture that penetrates them. This is more apparent as they grow up, and even when surrounded by other people in the real world, not only the characters but the books refusal to interact with the wider world is at the core of its failing.

In lieu of serious sociological reflection, one may be tempted to search for allegory. Is this novel in fact a screed against farming, or stem-cell research? If so, it comes without structure of argument, acknowledgement of counter argument and indeed any original thought beyond `it's wrong to kill animals' or `embryos are human beings too'. The fact that one can play `pick an allegory' means that if this is the intention, then it fails completely.

A final reading could be to ignore the science altogether and regard the novel as merely an evocation of childhood and friendship. If this were the case, then the very presence of the cloning is pointless. Could not the novel be set in a regular boarding school - could the later scenes be set in a hospice? In a way, yes, but that only goes to illustrate the ineffectiveness of the SF element of the story. And even then, the awkward love-triangle, the petty squabbles, lack of character development and anything truly regarded as incident means this is a vapid exercise in unwarranted nostalgia. Has a childhood of such banality ever been regarded with such fondness?

Given the unavoidable plot holes, incompetent moralising, and undeveloped science, one might hope for at least some incidental pleasures.

None exist in the plot which lacks anything close to events that have impact on the characters or engender any amount of excitement. Not only does nothing much happen, but it all happens in such a lethargic fashion that one can perhaps empathise with the character's willingness to submit to their murders, just to be done with it all. And the characters are all so dreary - we see them from childhood, through adolescence and to young adulthood, and very little distinguishes them from each other, bar a few mood-swings. Adolescence should be amongst the most dramatic periods of a person's life - not so this lot, who pass from one petty obsession to the next (a missing cassette tape stands as one of the key incidents) without any real emotion.

The writing itself, frequently described as beautiful, is nothing of the sort. Mostly flat and frequently full of tautologies - there is not one exciting sentence in the whole book. There is almost no physical description of the characters which renders them blanks (and incidentally at odds with real teenagers who obsess and agonise over their looks). Idioms are used as crutches to pad out the grey prose. That this is a first-person narrative means that a certain conversational style should be expected, but I certainly wouldn't enjoy a conversation with someone who has the vocabulary and diction of a `my true story' piece for a cheap woman's weekly. If again this is meant to reflect the emotional vacuity of the character - then why should I care about them?

Never Let Me Go asks disbelief to be suspended on too many levels, that ultimately empathy and excitement get suspended too, leaving us with not very much indeed.
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on 3 July 2006
I can't tell you how disappointed I was with this book. I chose this title for my book group to read and, having read a few reviews of it before I started, went into it with my eyes wide open. I had not read any of Ishiguru's books before, but knew his reputation and clearly, having been nominated for the Booker Prize, this book also had its fans. But, I am astounded that this book got anywhere near a nomination, although, having also read John Banville's The Sea which won the prize this year, am beginning to wonder about the mental health of the Booker Prize judges anyway. To use Kathy H's character as the narrator of this story was a major problem I had - a dull, two-dimensional character that I really couldn't have cared less about, whatever her ultimate fate. The author's reputation led me to believe him to write breathtaking prose and depth of character beyond parallel. But, this was clumsy, repetitive, annoying and bland. More like Famous Five characterisation than Booker Prize. And why were they so accepting of their fate? None of them showed any desire to run away, change identity, escape, in Ishiguro's unsophisticated world where this would have easily been possible or believable. They had not been brainwashed or impounded behind walls and barbed wire. They were free, seemingly, to travel, but somehow magnetically drawn towards inevitability despite other overwhelming human urges (I won't go into detail). This didn't add up for me. But the most fundamental problem I had with this book was the premise that these characters, as "donors", could happily donate vital organs once, twice or perhaps three times. The definition of a vital organ is one that is essential for life - how could donors survive beyond even one "donation", unless it was just a kidney! I may be taking it all too literally, but this novel did not do enough to suspend my belief and create a world where I could imagine this was possible, unlike something like 1984 or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (aka Bladerunner). Yes, the subject of cloning and the "abuse" of scientific knowledge is a scary one, but when the actual threats we face on this front in the real world are far more immediate and sinister than fiction, Ishiguro's angle seems very tame and diluted by comparison. I think Philip K Dick had a much better take on this subject, and what a fantastic film it made too! My suggestion is to read something, anything, else instead.
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on 7 April 2017
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'? They all know where they 'come from', but their origins never seem to them to be anything out of the ordinary, the fact they are 'different to others' never considered a real issue, and treated as matter-of-factly as the knowledge of their certain future - and even that future itself, when it comes.
Many critics have slammed this book for leaving so many questions: Why do the characters accept their fate? Why don't they rebel? Why don't they choose their own paths in life once they finish school and 'The Cottages' (a type of 'sixth form' for these 'unusual' children). Why hasn't Ishiguro given logical explanations for how this could be allowed to happen, and how indeed it DOES happen?
But one can ask all this of any culture or society different from our own, which appears more restrictive, more collectivist.
And this is all part of the mastery that makes the novel what it is: it's a beach read. It's actually a FEEL-GOOD read. You want to go back in time to when you were a schoolgirl or boy and be among the Hailsham teens; you want to meet and hang out with Kathy, Ruth and Tommy as young adults - cultured, educated, sociable, professional and apparently charmingly naïve, belying their unconditional acceptance and extensive knowledge of what lies beneath. You want to live their lives with them. You care about them and want them to be your friends. You even recognise them and feel you must have met them.
Yet it's dark, tragic and dystopian; it questions the very essence of humanity and 'greater good', it's a psychological study in less than 300 pages. It's a grim subject matter which manages to be uplifting when it should be depressing.
And this is what makes Never Let Me Go so utterly mind-blowing: How can such a devastating story be such a fun, relaxing read? How can you feel so entertained, so cheered up by what is essentially a horror story?
This is modern literature at its most creative, ever.
Never Let Me Go is the first experience I've had of Kazuo Ishiguro. And if the rest of his novels are as compulsive, addictive and powerful, if the rest of his novels stay so entrenched in me for so long after the last page, if the rest of his novels are so goose-bump-inducing, then I'm off right now to chuck every single one he's ever written in my Amazon basket. Because he's clearly a literary genius.
You really don't want to miss this. And, if you don't enjoy it, it's only going to be a day or two of your life wasted, because the pages literally turn themselves.
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on 16 March 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.
Although the book has much to say, occasionally - even for this Ishiguro-lover - the saying was a little too restrained, and I was left feeling I had missed something important - why were Tommy's temper tantrums relevant? What about this, or that, or the other, interminable description of a tiny unimportant incident? For that reason I would suggest that Never Let Me Go is not ideal for newcomers to Ishiguro's work, who should begin with The Remains of the Day. Nonetheless, here Ishiguro has delivered another reliably fine confection, perhaps without the pixel-perfect wondrousness of The Remains of the Day, or the mad beauty of The Unconsoled, but with more accessibility than any of his other books and, despite the unruffled surface, a cast iron certainty to perform open heart surgery on any reader who's got one to give.
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on 27 September 2009
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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on 26 May 2014
Oh, first of all, some spoilers here folks. But really, the biggest spoiler is devoting the time to actually completing what became a total yawn fest but hey, it's your call....

I couldn't decide whether to call this review 'Style over substance' or just 'OMG let it end...' - so I combined the two. I hope you like that. This book was recommended to me because I have been known to enjoy the odd, well thought out, character driven science fiction psychological thriller and when I first started it, I was encouraged and excited. It drew me in with the odd subtle promise of dark and thrilling things. The relaxed prose, full of random and well-observed detail made me think that when the reveals came and the plot takes off, I'd easily be able to allow myself to be carried along with it. So I committed to the book, and I can't tell you the exact point at which it started to really annoy me - but it was no later than the half way point. Probably quite a bit before.

Lots of problems:

1) A certain self conscious pretentiousness? Look at me everyone, not only am I writing as a woman in the first person but look how I'm describing these little details in a beautiful way.....to which one must say, yes, you are, but please, get over it? Stop spending entire paragraphs talking about what sort of particular fence was stopping you from entering a field and how your friend sometimes chose not to endorse you on some trivial matter that only the previous day you'd been bonding over - like a piece of rubbish you saw in a puddle. (And no, I didn't make that one up...)

2) Huge issues simply ignored. These clones are very intelligent, self aware. They're indistinguishable from non-clones and yet they just accept their fates? No one decides 'f*** this' I'm outta here?' OK I know my language is flippant but it really is the basis of my frustration and it's not just that there was some great thriller waiting to leap out from this book (which obviously wasn't the writer's aim) - it's just that these are questions these clones WOULD HAVE ASKED. Instead they just bumble around accepting their fates? Also, if not them, then some normal humans would have questioned the whole issue of donations, in the same way that we have strong animal rights movements.

3) There are other problems but I just can't be bothered. I feel like I've subjected myself to some angsty teenage girl's diary that had a 0.1% content element of something else. To say I feel soiled or violated by that would be an exaggeration but I may have to go and over compensate by reading a Dan Brown or something, instead of the Faulks I was looking forward to....
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on 5 September 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. (There's no "Ethics of Cloning" debate here - it's surely an open and shut case - and Ishiguro deliberately leaves the science of what is going on very sketchy.)

Many aspects of Kathy's tale are true for all of us. Like her contemporaries at Hailsham, we all know that we will inevitably die one day, and nothing - not True Love, High Art or whatever - will make one blind bit of difference. What, then, is the point of it all? Ishiguro's answer is initially a surprising one: "the little things" - the small change of human friendships and kindnesses; a favourite T-shirt; a "special" song off a second-hand cassette. This is what ultimately makes Kathy's tale so heartbreaking, and what makes the book ring so true emotionally.

At a key point in her childhood, Kathy describes a chilling realisation about one of the teachers or "guardians" as being like "seeing something strange and unexpected in the corner of a mirror you walk past every day" (I don't have the book to hand at present, so apologies if this isn't quite word-for-word.) This could well stand as a superscription to all of Ishiguro's fiction from "A Pale View of Hills" onwards, but is particularly appropriate as regards this unique and extremely unsettling book.
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on 8 February 2014
A poor story with no believability (spoilers). The idea that a British society not too dissimilar from the current one would allow for clones to be reared in boarding schools, so that they can die and be harvested for organs is nonsense.

Yes societies have done horrible and vile things but they are rationalised away with faulty logic for the stupid, or hidden away where few know about them with the help of oppression and fear. The Nazi's were able to have concentration camps because not everyone knew about them and because anyone who opposed their terrible system was killed. Similar things unfortunately happen in many countries. Current atrocities such as the mass killing of unwanted babies through abortion is rationalized by dubious arguments, faulty logic, and can occur because the killing is done in closed environments that most people ignore.

But a whole industry where murder is the norm and humans are farmed in broad daylight...? It's absolute nonsense. You'd need a vast oppressive state and complete control of media for such a situation to have a chance of occurring. Humans simply don't stand by while such blatant killing goes on in a relatively free society.

Ishiguro has written an utterly unrealistic novel, which therefore carries little weight. A bad idea and therefore a bad novel.
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on 22 July 2007
I came to this book expecting a well-written, dark and disturbing tale of modern dystopia. I left feeling, frankly, cheated. What some regard as Ishiguro's understated, deceptively-simple writing style, felt to me like rank bad writing.
The plot is shot full of holes, the sense of foreboding or darkness is totally missing. The characters are vague, personally annoying, and apathetic. The denoument, when it finally arrives, is clumsy and poorly-worded.
If you want to read what this book should have felt like, try The Handmaid's Tale or Brave New World. Ishiguro has an interesting idea, but lacks the talent, application, sense of mood, or bravery, to make it work.
In short - overrated.
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on 11 March 2015
"Now that I am here, what thou will do with me/ None of my books will show"
So George Herbert lamented of his creator. When Frankenstein's creature met his creator on an icy glacier his response to the dilemma of his life was more robust.After cursing him he declared that although mankind reviled him he had learnt that if he couldn't be loved ,at least he could be feared. Whenever my dad watched the film he used to say- "Poor old Monster. You have to feel sorry for him." And we children knew what he meant because even then we understood that every living thing, no matter how small or imperfect. had a desire to live. love and be loved. A hungry
baby cries the house down and even the smallest spider will run for its life or bite you. Which brings us to Kath, the narrator of this story. Kath talked a lot about spiders .However, harsh and surprising it may seem by the end of this book I had a lot more respect for spiders than I did for Kath.
The overwhelming consensus in these reviews is that Kath was a hapless, helpless victim of a soulless society.My response to Kath was quite
different. Half way through the book I began to loathe her and started to find her memoir deeply suspicious.I did not expect to have this reaction.
But for me nothing is straightforward about Kath or her memoir.
If you don't want to know the end then read no further. Though the book is no thriller. Rather it's an exploration of what it means to be human. Nature or Nurture? Who we are or what we do? And how all these things can be so ambiguous that it almost becomes impossible to judge. If as
others have said the book will haunt you, then its not the plot, but questions about Kath's response to all that happen's to her.

There are three ways of reading Kath. The first is as a straightforward victim. Kath is a Carer, both by inclination and vocation. Part one we learn
of all the small ways she cares for her fellow students at Hailsham, the secluded school where they are all raised till the age of 16. She is especially close to Ruth and Tommy, about whom we learn quite a lot. Indeed the memoir is a book of remembrance for these two closest of her friends. However, by the end of the book we have also learnt exactly what this vocation of Carer actually entails. In a book full of euphemisms the title Carer must stand as the biggest of them all. Kath is proud of her caring skills. She has stayed in the job longer than most. She even opts
oversee the care of Ruth and Tommy, the two people who more to her than anyone else in the world. This of course is all very admirable, very caring, until you factor in one very significant fact.
In Kath's world caring means nursing donors through the process of donation in which their body parts or fluids are harvested. We also learn that most donors don't survive beyond four rounds of donations. We also know that Kath, Ruth Tommy and all Hailsham students are locked in this dance macabre because they are clones bred specifically for this purpose. Kath's job is to keep donors in good health in preparation for the next donation. And Carer she remains until such time as she chooses to become a donor herself. And Kath appears to be in no hurry to become a donor She admits she has stayed in the job much longer than most.

So Kath then is a woman who has not just witnessed the slow demise of those she loves, but has actively facilitated the smooth operation of the process.In short, she ensures the health and vitality of the crop, thereby maximising its bodily returns on each donor.
Why, we must ask, if she loved Ruth and Tommy, or even if she only quite liked them, did she not tell them to run, or hide or stand and fight to a bitter end of their own making, and not the medical professions. No guns are held to any heads. There is no system of state coercion or
surveillance. In fact since the age of 16 the Hailsham students appear free to live as they please, in and among wider society
Kath recollects in loving detail her relationships with Ruth and Tommy, yet she never questions their fate or her role in it. Does her memoir, her accumulation of all the tiny details of their lives together exonerate this deathly passivity? Does an act of remembrance make up for the part she played in their long creeping deaths?
For me it does not. The argument that she has been brainwashed into such passivity does not stand up. She is not a child straight out the cloistered walls of Hailsham; she is 31 year old woman. And since when has 'simply obeying orders' or 'not knowing any better' been a justification
for aiding systematic extermination? We do not accept that excuse in the real world, so why should we accept it here. In claiming to love, not hate,those she has seen through the process of donation Kath is worse than the angels of death who assisted in the gas chambers.She is not a victim but a collaborator.
So Kath can be read as monster. Someone who plays the system in order to prolong her own survival while justifying it with a pious layer of false remembrance.This explains Ruth's suspicion of her and why Tommy, ultimately, rejects her as his carer, preferring the company of other donors.The memoir becomes a hypocritical act of self-justification. Monstrous though she is , she is still very much human. Just as human as those who designed and used the hideous eugenic policy in the first place. Yet this, of course, does not explain her fathomless passivity as she prepares to offer herself for donations. Which brings me to my preferred reading of Kath. She is not human at all. In fact she is neither fresh fish or fowl but to all intents some kind of biological robot- a living simulacrum. Because in there appears to be something, something absolutely fundamental but elusive, which is missing.Frankenstein's creature had it.When he uses every scrap of his wit and guile, fighting tooth and nail for the right to live and love he proved himself all too human. Which is why we feel sorry for him. He is a living feeling human being trapped in a monstrous form. Despite being manufactured from discarded dead bodies he still possesses that vital spark, that 'unconquerable self' which propels him along, for better or worse.
Schiller said that love and hunger drove the world. Something must, because being alive is not a passive event.The impulse to live has to be overwhelmingly or else it wouldn't happen.Of course it is not unknown for humans to sacrifice their lives in the cause of a greater good or for those they love, or for some 'divine' idea. But Kath has offered up those she loves and then herself for the efficient workings of a rationalising state which even refuses to grant them human status.There is no greater good at stake here nor any divine idea; just expediency.And she is not even suicidal; she appears to lack even the will to conjure up a positive wish to die. Rather all of them find it easier to just keep on obeying orders, even if that means oblivion, than to struggle for life. So the memories flit around the edge of her conciousness.But that's it- not rage, or grief or despair just quiet heart warming memories. That is inhuman- not human. It's as if she had no real self, no real self-consciousness at all. She is hollow, absent. The lights appear to be on but nobodies at home. Perhaps this is the fatal flaw of cloning. It reproduces the body but not the animus, the spirit , the soul.
So the book ends. For me a study of absence- Bodies without desire, love, hate, hope, hurt,anger, faith, not even appetite or any real thought.

But of course every reader must make up their own mind.
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