Never Let Me Go has been on my TBR list for a while despite not really knowing what it was about. This story follows Kathy, a carer in a dystopian reality who is reminiscing on her younger years at Hailsham School, navigating growing up, friendships and several mysteries that plague her over her years at Hailsham. Slowly the reader learns more about life in this alternate world and the darker purposes that rule Kathy’s life.
This was a fairly short read that I found easy to get into. The perspective of Kathy and the writing style employed by Ishiguro were enjoyable and easy to follow. In fact I finished this book in less than 24 hours. On the other hand there was no real pace to the story. At no point did I feel I like I just couldn’t put it down or felt myself racing to find out what happened next. I have no complaints about the characters or plot line but something in it just fell a little flat for me. Put this book next to other dystopian type novels and I feel it falls behind. Novels such as The Handmaid’s Tale or The Heart Goes Last both by Margaret Atwood or even The Natural Way of Things left me with such stronger reactions. I feel this is in part due to the fact that this story doesn’t fully develop the dystopian society that the novel is set in and the mysteries in this story don’t feel like the big reveal that they are intended to be. I feel this book was more focused on the relationships between the characters.
The interactions between Kathy and two of her Hailsham classmates was the strongest part of the novel. Tommy and Ruth were important people in her youth that she crosses paths with in her present work as a carer. The story slowly reveals how intricate their relationships become over their school years. Again, I have no complaints about the characters, they play their roles well, however I found myself feeling a little frustrate at Kathy. Ruth is clearly a manipulative frenemy playing the role of queen bee. The strength of the relationship between Kathy and Tommy is apparent from early on, yet neither of them commit to it. Even the emotions of the characters were underwhelming and felt a little detached, resulting in me also feeling disengaged from the story line.
This book has some amazing reviews and I’m sure there are many out there who love it. I would recommend giving this book a go, it was an easy and enjoyable read as much as my descriptions are ambivalent. I think I have just read a few too many other books this year that fit into a similar category that I enjoyed more (and also recommend, just follow the links above). I give Never Let Me Go three headphones playing Kathy’s cassette that she cherished so much.