I’m not really sure where to start with Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Not because it was terrible, don’t get me wrong. Because it certainly wasn’t terrible or bad or anything like that. I’m just not sure how well I can explain how good it is in a way that makes any sense whatsoever.
The thing is, Never Let Me Go is a fascinating text in the most subtle way that as I was reading it I didn’t even realise, at first, how fascinating it really is. This is the kind of book that makes it seem as though not much of importance is really happening for the majority of the pages, but in actual fact everything that is happening is extremely important. Not just for understanding the characters and the plot, but also for understanding some very complex and insightful things about humanity.
Ishiguro keeps you in the dark, or at least in the grey area, throughout most of the text. It’s kind of frustrating at first, to have a vague understanding of what’s going on, but not really knowing the full story. Like the characters of Kathy, Tommy and Ruth, we get glimpses of detail, but aren’t told everything until the end. When everything comes together in a way that was enthralling and actually gave me goosebumps. And I won’t hide this from you: it’s sad. The whole story is sad. Not in the same way as the film, which I watched years ago, but in a different way. A way I can’t even explain. It’s kind of a detached sadness. Because Kathy is quite simple in a way and she doesn’t really go into things on a complex level. I don’t know. There’s just this quiet acceptance of things that just haunted me in the end.
The novel is told from Kathy’s point of view as she goes back and forth in her memories of her life at Hailsham. The majority of the novel is full of her observations of her friends, particularly Tommy and Ruth, and the activities they got up to, such as creating art for the Gallery or eavesdropping on their guardians. It’s hard to explain it without giving away the “secrets” (which have a better impact if you don’t fully know everything until the end of the book), but all of Kathy’s memories brings up really interesting things about how humans act, how they love each other, how they manipulate and trick each other, how they think. The behaviour of the students like Kathy, Tommy and Ruth is immature most of the time – there’s deep naivety in their hearts, which is all a part of the bigger picture. Sure, there were times I had to put down the book because a particular memory Kathy was referring to seemed dull. But, I’d keep coming back for more and eventually realised the significance of all these moments, of Kathy and her friend’s entirely un-ordinary lives.
I think this is an important book. I’ve probably said the same of many others books before, but I really believe it with this one (which is also probably me just repeating myself). Whatever the case, this is definitely worth the read if you’re up to reading a tale that leaves you asking yourself many questions about such things as souls, humanness and how far humans will go to make a cure.