Book Reviews

Book Review – Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro


I hadn’t heard of Kazuo Ishiguro till he got the Nobel prize earlier this year. Its sad that I missed reading him all this while. The minute I heard his name, I immediately looked up his books on Kindle and found this title “Never let me go” which was very intriguing, so I bought it.

When I started reading the book, it caught my attention but wasn’t riveting like a spy novel or a classic that you never want to put down till you complete reading it. It never got that way, but Kathy, Tommy and Ruth stuck with me. I understood the mean things they said to each other, how Kathy misunderstood the lyrics of a romantic song to be for a mother and her baby, the need for Ruth to be the centre of attraction, Tommy’s sloppy ways and his uncontrollable rage…. their secrets, their collection box (well, I still have mine with stuff that means nothing to anyone else except me), the artwork and the role of the guardians.

I couldn’t understand what a donor was till a few pages into the novel. I realised that Hailsham was a place where children were being reared to be organ donors. I didn’t realise there was something about cloning till much later when Chrissie and Rodney take this trio of Kathy, Tommy and Ruth, looking for Ruth’s “possible”. Even as I didn’t catch the cloning, I was depressed to think about the possibility that children can be reared just for the sake of donating organs to other human beings. Well, organ donation has been a source of money for the poor in India and like everything else we have some “smart” people acting as the brokers making a killing in this business, pun and shun intended. So I am no stranger to the money-out-of-misery industry, but still, some vestigial feelings welled up when I thought of a bunch of orphans  being reared like animals ONLY to act as donors.

The book is in Kathy’s voice and we see Hailsham and the world through her eyes… and its tough to see through the tears that accidentally well up in your eyes as you see her closest friends Ruth and Tommy “complete” – basically, donate their organs and die with some more organs being harvested.

There are several sub-stories here … but for me the story that stands out is – taking every opportunity to live fully and when you find that soulmate, don’t let go. Tommy and Kathy were obviously soulmates who stayed apart for pretty much their whole lives with Ruth inserting herself between them. Isn’t that the story we see every day? There is that one or two or three people with whom you feel complete and everything is just right – they could be your friends or a parent or the best is when they are your spouse, but we make every effort to find some Ruth to come between us. This novel beautifully shows why thats such a waste of the opportunity to live a complete life.

Am a fan now – so expect to see my reviews for all of Kazuo Ishiguro’s books soon. Never letting go …. of life.

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3 replies »

    • Katharine – I find that thought offending too, but it’s a possibility in this warped world. Nothing is sacred, everything is centered on one’s life being good…. at any cost. But this book is not about cloning and raising organ donors – that’s the backdrop, but the book itself is more about living fully, loving deeply and making the most of every opportunity we get. That’s why I was able to read it – and even then much slower than I normally read.

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