Never Let Me Go by Kazuo IshiguroDecember 8, 2009
The cover of this book is really something, isn’t it? Once you see it on the table in the bookstore, you’re unlikely to ever forget it. Unfortunately, if you were to pick up the book and read the back cover, you might quickly lose interest. The summary makes this novel sound like one of those typical flashback-heavy boarding school memoirs. Thankfully, Never Let Me Go is much more than that. Set in an England of an alternate history, (What if medical science advanced so quickly that people didn’t stop to make ethical decisions?) this novel tells the story of a group of three students who are part of a subset of people with special destinies.
I don’t want to reveal too much, as Ishiguro is so wonderfully talented at slowly and delicately revealing startling facts. However, I will say that the world in this book is a frightening one, and the characters we meet are so authentic and hearbreakingly realistic. Of course, since the main character of the book is speaking in the first person and telling a story of her childhood, the book is heavy with flashbacks. But her past isn’t one of the typical boarding school stories that we’ve all read so much. Her school, Hailsham, manages to seem utopian, creepy, and secretive all at once. I sped through this book, constantly wanting to understand why her life was this way and whether she could ever change it. When I got to the end, I was staggered with all of the emotion that was packed into these 300 pages. This is certainly a book that my mind will wander to again and again, much like it does with The Remains of the Day. Interestingly, these two books are set in such different worlds that it hardly seems like they could be written by the same person. But as I thought about it, I realized that both novels have one thing in common: the characters, though subtly written, convey more emotion than one could ever hope for in a novel.
There’s supposed to be a movie out next year, based on the book. I seriously hope that it does the book justice. I felt that the movie based on The Remains of the Day was very well done, and I hope this one follows suit!
In other news, I’m afraid that I’ve temporarily suspended my reading of The Brothers Karamazov. I have just had a difficult time keeping up with such a demanding read during the holiday season. Right now, I think that I may be turning to shorter works that require a shorter attention span as I am constantly busy this time of year. I do intend to pick it up again in January, though.