Thursday, February 2, 2017

Review of "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro

This book has gotten good reviews so I had high expectations. The book is narrated by a young woman named Kathy. Kathy has a job as a "carer" (a sort of nurse) for special people called "donors."

Kathy is telling the story of her life beginning when she was a student at an exclusive British boarding school called the Hailsham School. Kathy and her friends - Ruth, Tommy, Grace and others - seem to exhibit the usual kid behaviors. They form cliques, join clubs, tease each other, have fights, and so on. The kids also go to classes taught by teachers called "guardians" and have their best artwork and poems collected by a periodic visitor called "Madame." In a lot of ways Hailsham seems more or less like a normal boarding school. It isn't however. The kids never seem to leave the school at all and we soon learn that they have no parents and are being groomed to be "donors" - which is just what you think it is. When the kids are grown they are expected to give away their body organs.

Though the premise of the book is intriguing the story moves along excruciatingly slowly. Moreover, it's hard to identify with the characters who are, for the most part, not particularly likable. I really hated Ruth, who was a bitch, a liar, a manipulator, and a thief. Even the "nicer" characters though, like Kathy and Tommy, don't inspire me to care about them very much.

As Kathy's story continues we see that the students finish their studies at the Hailsham School as teenagers and then move to "cottages" for a couple of years or so. By now the students are less sheltered and go out and about. They also engage in typical young adult behavior with a lot of hooking up and sex. After a couple of years or so in the cottages the students generally start their jobs as "carers," after being carers for a while they become "donors."

I kept expecting the author to explain more about what was going on in the story: These kids seem to be clones but where did they come from? Who got the organs (or were they for some kind of research)? Why did the kids go along with this program? Why were the students so casual about death and sex? I never got the answers though.

Though the author explores an interesting concept, the story just doesn't come together for me.

Rating: 3 stars


  1. I'm sorry you didn't like this one much. I really did enjoy it. I was definitely a slow burn. But I liked the vagueness about it. You find out about the world through these emotionally stunted kids. And it was super freaky. Did you ever see the movie? Great review!
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
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    1. Thank you Rebecca. I know a lot of people really loved the book but I need things explained better :)
      I haven't seen the movie...maybe I'll look for it.