Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
September 13, 2010 § 8 Comments
My last Ishiguro was When We Were Orphans. Comparing that book with a couple of previous ones I’ve read (Nocturnes and A Pale View of Hills), I was left a little disappointed. Which probably explains why I’ve stayed away from reading him for so long, despite hearing so many good things about him. Never Let Me Go however, has put Ishiguro back into the list of authors whose books I plan to finish reading.
I admit that I finally decided to pick up this book because I found out somewhere (maybe I saw the trailer. Or something. I don’t remember) that the movie version is set to be released soon. And for some odd reason, I always want to read the book whenever I hear that it is going to be made into a movie. (And oddly also, though I say it’s because I want to watch the movie, more often than not, I end up only reading the book, loving it, and not daring to watch the movie for fear that it doesn’t live up)
Anyway, back to the book. I thought it to be beautifully written; simplistic but very deep. The story is told from Kath’s point of view, as she recalls some of her memories with fellow “students” back during her Hailsham days. As she continues to care for Ruth and Tommy, both of whom came from Hailsham, just like herself, she finds herself discovering things that she never thought of before, back when things were happening.
The book takes a look, or rather, is written in such a way that it forces you, the reader, to take a deep look inside of yourself, and ask difficult questions. To what extent would we go to find cures to today’s illnesses? What is it that makes us human? Who are we to determine how others should live their lives? How responsible are we for the troubles and complications that arise from things that we created?
This, I believe, is a dystopian novel. But in a way, it doesn’t read like one. Unlike books like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go doesn’t throw you into depression or into this well of sadness and darkness. Nor is it like Orwell’s 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World, where the writing is somewhat satirical. Ishiguro’s book is not at either side of the extreme, but it feels like he’s gently pushing you to go where we’ve always not wanted to go, but without the kind of force that suffocates people. The world he created in this book feels just like as if nothing has changed, nothing has happened, there is no big difference. But that’s where the beauty of this book is. It’s like there is no difference, but that is only because we refuse to see it. That’s what he tries to tell us.
Having read four books by Ishiguro now, I get the feeling that he’s a little different in each book. I’m tempted to think that we are all like that; we leave a little bit of us behind at some points, while we pick up something new.