I read this entire book in one weekend, for a class. I curled up in bed near the open window curtains with some tea and read voraciously – almost 300 pages, as it turns out. The book was Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
It’s a dystopian scifi novel, but not your typical dystopian scifi novel. What I mean is that it’s terrifyingly believable. The premise of the story aside, their world is just like ours, and the premise itself isn’t that unthinkable either.
So it’s an eerie and deeply emotional story, not just because the premise is extremely creepy but because you can see it happening. You also go along with the characters – you start out with them as children, and only discover their world as they do. You start out thinking it’s just another British boarding school story, and by the end you’re totally horrified.
I’m being somewhat mysterious on purpose, because the reveal is really well done and I can’t explain the premise without giving away the ending. Suffice it to say, there are some strong messages in there about ethical science.
I don’t really have anything to fault concerning this read. I absolutely loved it. I hated Ruth, but I’m pretty sure the reader was supposed to hate Ruth at least a little by the end? It wasn’t a sign of poor writing; it was a sign of good writing.
I’ve read only one other story by Ishiguro, his most famous one, Remains of the Day. It seems totally different on the surface – it’s a historical drama about a butler trying to adapt to post WWII Britain and deal with his feelings for a former love interest – but there are some similarities. Both books are deeply sorrowful and linger with you, though they come across as pretty innocuous at first. And both books are at least partly about missed opportunities for love.
There will be missed love in Never Let Me Go. Be warned, before you start into it. Ishiguro is great at writing terribly sad romance without making it stereotypical or dramatically tragic. There is no happy ending here.