Book reviews by Mobilism's Book Review team
Apr 30th, 2020, 1:57 pm

TITLE: Never Let Me Go
AUTHOR: Kazuo Ishiguro
GENRE: Fiction
RATING: ★★★★☆


Description: Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were pupils at Hailsham - an idyllic establishment situated deep in the English countryside. The children there were tenderly sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe they were special, and that their personal welfare was crucial. But for what reason were they really there? It is only years later that Kathy, now aged 31, finally allows herself to yield to the pull of memory. What unfolds is the haunting story of how Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy, slowly come to face the truth about their seemingly happy childhoods - and about their futures. Never Let Me Go is a uniquely moving novel, charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of our lives.

Review: Secrets, lots of them but at the same time it is not like these secrets were completely hidden from those who were special. Hailsham students. How special? Very much so but you will have to enter this world to discover it for yourself.

Never Let Me Go might give you the impression of a random title for a romantic novel, but this book goes way beyond that powerful theme. You will find a love story for sure, a love triangle actually, but a triangle not only complicated but again… special. If you are the type of reader who judges a book solely by reading its first chapter, I must warn you that you will need to go beyond those few pages with this novel.

The novel is set in England, late 1990s. We have Kathy, a young carer who even though she works in a pretty consuming job; she likes it very much. Pretty normal and perhaps a boring plot so far. She then talks about patients and donations and from that point on she goes back and forth remembering her year as a student at Hailsham, the school where she met her friends Tommy and Ruth. And that is the point where it all really starts to unfold. In chapter two you see that students get medicals almost every week. Creepy but… what for? Well, you find then that this book is not what it seems to be.

It kind of reminded me a bit of Harry Potter because of the guardians (teachers), the different years, the talk at the dorms… Hailsham is a place for special people just like Hogwarts. They even have a secret guard of students who protect their favourite teacher, Miss Geraldine. However, as in Harry Potter, not everything is just fun and games in this privileged environment. Relatable topics like the perks of growing up, difficult friendships, or bullying (in this case, more psychological than physical; also interesting) are a key downside in this otherwise utopia. I am particularly surprised about how Kathy and Ruth deal with their friendship. It is amazing what some friendships endure.

You might find yourself asking aloud with frustration: why don’t they just do this or that? And the thing is, I did find an answer for all those moments. I credit the author for fulfilling those dilemmas without lecturing the reader or selling any specific bias. It is the reader who just sees how things develop in that way and why.

The author also does a great job by giving the characters a language according to their age. Teenagers speak like teenagers tend to speak. For example:
“Tommy, who was in the stream coming down, had stopped dead on the stairs with a big open smile that immediately irritated me. A few years earlier maybe, if we ran into someone we were pleased to see, we’d put on that sort of look. But we were thirteen by then, and this was a boy running into a girl in a really public situation. I felt like saying: “Tommy, why don’t you grow up?” But I stopped myself, and said instead: “Tommy, you’re holding everyone up. And so am I”.

Get ready for some time-jumps though. You will often see phrases such as: “I’ll have to go back a little bit” and there is also a recurrent repetition of her daily rides and the views of the fields. It is like the author would give you a break from time to time to scape all the frustration you might find.

There is a quote that I found particularly interesting because it reminded me of some of the education we get as kids:
“But of course we’d take it in at some level, so that before long all this stuff was there in our heads without us ever having examined it properly”.

And also:
“But you can’t blame us,” I said. “We’d been taught to think about each other, but never about the guardians”.

I am not sure up to what point we are thought about empathising with others and taking care of each other and not so much competition. There are many more great quotes to mention but I wouldn’t like to spoil any of this wonderful story.

Reading Never Let Me Go is a roller-coaster of emotions but at the same time, when you are reading it the author makes you feel as if you were in an absolutely normal reality which it may well be in the book but after reading the very last page you start thinking about many different issues such as fairness, ethics, science, love, sex… life as a whole and how we shape this world. I must admit I am giving it a second read once I know all the secrets behind this story and perhaps you may see the book from a new perspective. I think I would. You will definitely wonder what position you would take towards this new world.

The subtlety of this Nobel prize winner is worth your time. I definitely recommend Never Let Me Go to those readers who care enough about being a part of this world in general and to be more precise to those who appreciate friendships, science, love, and a better future for us all. Now if you excuse me, I must read again this masterpiece.
Apr 30th, 2020, 1:57 pm
May 27th, 2020, 2:23 am
Thank you for this beautiful review!
May 27th, 2020, 2:23 am

My Favourite/Recommended Book series:
The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin, The Culture Series by Iain M. Banks, The Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe