Review – Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Published:  August 31st 2010 by Vintage (first published March 2005)
Genre: Fiction, dystopian, science fiction, speculative fiction
Pages: 304

“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”

As with my memory of this book, i don’t see fading, because – WOW!

Ishiguro has created a dark, quiet and melancholy world in England where we are made to examine the value of our lives and the time we have on this earth.

Warning – spoilers ahead!

The story is set in three acts that jump a little back and forth as it is narrated by Kathy. Kathy is what is referred to as a “carer” as the story begins in medias res. I was confused at first as I started reading and then I set it aside and watched the movie. Something I’ve never done before – watch the movie first and then read the book after. But it loosened something in the story for me and I found it much easier to follow the jumps that the book takes back and forth.

The story centers around Kathy, Tommy and Ruth as they grow up at what resembles a boarding school. You slowly get hints of things not being as they seem and by the end of the first third you find that they are created to be organ donors to “real people” out in the world. When they come of age they will begin donating organs until they die and become “complete”.

As I’ve said of Ishiguro’s books before, it has a slow and melancholy feel to it. It sets a mood that I find so frail and makes me want to cradle it carefully. And the movie did a remarkable job at recreating that atmosphere. I was impressed by both. Most of all I think Ishiguro’s books makes you think and feel. And for me it was summed up in this quote from the book that they used beautifully in the movie:

“What I’m not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”

The notion of not having enough time. I think a lot of people might feel that way, and that’s why stress is such a leading cause of disease and eventually death. And people glorify the fact that they are so “busy” which I think is getting out of hand. I hardly hear people valuing a simple life anymore. Which should be the ultimate goal really.

I don’t want to over analyze, but when the donors are complete they die and they seem ok with that. They’ve accepted their fate and they give their organs willingly. I felt that it has some symbolism to parenthood. Our children are made from us and we willingly make sacrifices for them and we die content in them living on. Without understanding what the other generations have lived before or will live after us, we are living pretty much the same…

I wept, through the movie and through the book, I wept.