Saturday 20 November 2010

NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro

In one of the most acclaimed and strange novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewered version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now 31, Never Let Me Go hauntingly 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.

I've heard some really good things about this book, so when I found it at the library I borrowed it. And I'm really glad that I did. This was one of those books that seems so simple and straightforward when you first read the blurb and get started. Almost as if the narrator's voice gets so into your head that everything instantly clicks together.

Well, almost everything.

See, it starts out with a woman called Kathy H. She's a carer, and is 31 years old. She throws you into the middle of her seemingly normal world by mentioning things like 'carer', 'donors', and 'donations'. Then she starts talking about Hailsham (where she went to school) and before too long throws you back into her childhood, teens, and later life. She recounts all the special and meaningful times in her life--most of which include her close friends Ruth and Tommy. These three had very complicated friendships that twisted them together.

I know it sounds like the memoir of a woman who's getting ready to end her career, but it's much more than that. The flashbacks are her way of making the reader understand not only how strange and hard her life was growing up, filled with mystery and assumptions, but also to make us see that there's something much deeper going on. Something no one expects.

I don't want to ruin the surprise, because really, it's quite shocking. Not so much what the kids from Hailsham were because I kinda figured that out along the way, there were certainly enough clues peppered into the story... but because it's just so darn sad.

This is a heartbreaking tale of strong friendship, love, betrayals, growing up in an uncertain world of speculation, and finally realising that there's only one function in this world for Hailsham students. :(

I really enjoyed this story. I think it's one that'll keep coming back into my head, and will make me realise another piece of the puzzle long after reading it. This is certainly a story that'll make you think.

Here's the movie trailer, btw. Though, you might not want to watch it if you intend to read the book first:

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