Never Let Me Go
By Kazuo Ishiguro
Date Published: April 5, 2005
Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.
Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.
The past month my assignment in English class has been to read a Man Booker Prize winner or nominee. Since I had been meaning to get around to Never Let Me Go for the longest time, naturally I decided to choose it! (It was a nominee for the prize in 2005).
Through the eyes of Kathy, the narrator, we're bombarded with memories and brief moments in time. There are really quiet, lovely depictions of life and never-ending English countryside. The story is slow-paced at times, and not much action actually occurs, but the character interactions are magnetic.
Yet despite the nostalgic tone (which I loved) and sense of peacefulness, there is always something disconcerting lying behind Kathy's narration, as it was probably meant to be. Perhaps its the resigned way in which Kathy regards her future, when readers can only think: Why didn't any of them ever try to escape their fates? I don't want to give away a large aspect behind the mystery of the novel, but as the story progresses, this sense of a loss of innocence as the characters move away from their childhood ignorance increases and it's heartbreaking.
This novel isn't for everyone. The themes are a bit more mature, and will not please those who prefer plots where major events occur. I felt drained once I had finished it. I felt tired because I had invested so much into the lives of these characters only to reach the end and discover their fates. Though it was somewhat unsettling (for a reason), I loved the quiet poignancy that pervaded Ishiguro's writing. I appreciate that Never Let Me Go gave me a lot to think about and suspect that this book will keep haunting me even after I have written this review.