Monday, November 18, 2013

Review of Never Let Me Go

As a child, Kathy – now thirty-one years old – lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed – even comforted – by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.

A tale of deceptive simplicity, Never Let Me Go slowly reveals an extraordinary emotional depth and resonance – and takes its place among Kazuo Ishiguro’s finest work. (Goodreads)

Yet again I'm going to try to describe what this novel did to me. I read quite a lot lately, maybe it has to do with the weather changing and being outside isn't that appealing at the moment. I'm also job hunting so I've got a little more time on my hands than usual. Some of the books that pass through my hands are like soda cans, you open them, they satisfy your thirst but you quickly forget you ever had them. Other novels seem more like a terrific bottle of wine, one you savour for a time and you keep looking for the same vintage preferably of the same year.
This specific novel is like a fantastic bottle of red wine. I've read this mainly just before I went to bed, I find it easier to read on my e-reader while most of me is tucked under my flanel duvet and I only have to let one finger appear to flick the page. This story even made me kind of a temporary poet, it's written in a beautiful style telling a story you'll find comforting yet sad.
It's being depicted as a dystopia but I've read other reviews who contradict that. As I'm inclined to read dystopian literature, I have to agree with it not being dystopian. Yes, the tender subject of the book which is never fully explored is of a sad and inhuman nature, but the way it is handled by its victims is so delicately uplifting.
The entire novel is being narrated by Kathy, a former student of Hailsham and someone now looking forward to give donations of herself after a long stretch of taking care of those who already given parts of themselves. She starts out with telling of their time at this fantastic school where others like her were being reared and educated. Quickly you become aware that somehow they aren't being prepped for a normal life after school but for something quite different. As soon as she begins to talk about her work now and the way the people she knew all her life quickly pass away, you begin to realise what kind of thing has been happening. Yet she never touches the subject head on, she keeps soothing your senses by using metaphores and euphemisms.

I'm not going to give more away. It's been voted onto the list of 1001 books you must read, and I agree. This is a definite must-read.

Personal score: 5 stars