Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, Never Let Me Go dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.
Having read Klara and the Sun by the author, I was keen to read more of his books. I’m not quite sure what genre his books fall in as they seem to have a young adult, sci-fi elements to them yet they focus on feelings and emotions.
The story is told through Kathy, reminiscing of her past. Her time in a home/school with her friends and then leading up to the present. The pacing is gentle and gives the reader time to get to know Kathy and the bond with her friends Ruth and Tommy. Ruth and Kathy’s relationship is quite an awkward one at times as I wondered why Kathy was friends with her. Whilst Ruth could be nice, she could also be quite mean and it seemed to be one sided a lot of the time. Tommy on the other hand is a bit of an under dog and he stole a part of my heart.
Whilst we know that there is a purpose for the children that are in Hailsham School, the author never fully expands on it and whilst I could guess most of it, it would have been good for there to be more explanation as I was left with some questions. The story isn’t about the futuristic side of things though so this may be why.
Never Let Me Go has a melancholy feel to it. It’s an almost bitter sweet read as you get a sense at what is to come in the story. Whilst I didn’t love this one as much as Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro’s story telling is captivating and you can’t help but get caught up in Kathy, Ruth and Tommy’s lives and to know what the future holds for them. Overall an unassuming story where the characters get under your skin more than you realise and will leave you feeling quite bereft when it’s time to say goodbye.