Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

About the Book

Title: Never Let Me Go
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro 
Publication: Faber and Faber, 2005
Summary: In one of the most acclaimed and original novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, 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. (Faber & Faber)

What I Think

"My name is Kathy H." (Never Let Me Go, pg. 3) In Ishiguro's first short sentence he sets up Never Let Me Go to be an unusual book. In fact, when discussing with friends which category this novel falls into, none of us were sure. We opted for cross-genre as it has elements of many different types of books. Unusual is something we could all agree on. This sentence is clever as it gives so much away, which you don't realise until later. Of course you know the name of the main character, but it's not until later that you discover why she is referred to as Kathy H. (not a full surname, or in fact just Kathy). 

Kathy H. continues, as if talking directly to her readers. "I'm thirty-one years old now, and have been a carer for over eleven years." (Never Let Me Go, pg. 3) Again this raises all manner of questions and I found the story of Kathy H., Ruth and Tommy to be utterly compelling. We're fed snippets of information about their world, much in the same way the students are fed information slowly, as if on a drip, by their superiors. Cleverly, as readers, it's like we always knew what was coming, just as the students did too without ever being told directly.  

I watched the film version of Never Let Me Go (2010) starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield before I read the book and I wish I hadn't. Always read the book first. Having said that, the screenplay by Alex Garland (The Beach) is fantastic and very true to the book and the actors do the characters justice. I would have liked to have experienced the book without any prior knowledge. 

Kazuo Ishiguro is a wonderful storyteller of dark undertones and beautiful descriptions. Highly recommended. 

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. (amazon)


  1. I was talking about this novel just yesterday with my reading group. We read it and discussed it some time back and yesterday the group agreed it had been amongst our top ten reads. It certainly came highest in our vote for its structure and overall story.

    I read the book before seeing the film, which I thought was good but it lacked the depth of the book, as is so often the case with films, being such a different genre.

    1. I would certainly put it into my top list of books! :)

  2. Great review Laura, I also really enjoyed the book. I thought the film was well done, but I agree to read the book before watching it.

    1. I'm normally diligent about reading the book first and should stick to my own rules! ;)

  3. Another one for my list. It'll go on the Kindle for some time in the future.

  4. Cool review :) Here's mine if you don't mind:

    Thanks and have a nice day!

  5. In the quiet, striving voice of Kathy H., Ishiguro has shown us our own humanity and the children which live our entire lives within us.


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