I have been dying to read a book by Ishiguro for AGES and so I decided to start backwards (this is starting to become a trend) and begin with his latest novel. Without doubt Never Let Me Go is probably one of the best books i’ve read this year.
One of my all time favorite books is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and I’m always on the search for dystopian literature so I was very pleased to find out that Never Let Me Go has elements of Brave New World and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale as well.
The world that Ishiguro has dreamed up of is one populated by cloned children reared to give their organs away (called donors) and those who help in reassuring the donors (called carers) there are other people in this hierarchical society but it’s the donors and carers who dominate the novel. This is because the main protagonist, Kathy, is a carer and is telling us readers about her past.
In the first part of Never Let Me Go Kathy recounts her schooldays at an institute called Hailsham, It is here she notices some strange happenings but her main preoccupation is working within the school’s system and her interactions with her friends Ruth and Tommy. Saying this all the events here affect the future of the book.
The second part deals with Kathy’s post Hailsham life and her training for the future. Again we get brief descriptions of the type of society Ishiguro has cooked up but it’s very subtle and there’s only bits and pieces. Like part one the emphasis is on Kathy’s ever mutating friendship with Ruth and Tommy. However Hailsham still is in the minds of these teenagers.
Part three is the denouement – everything that has confused the reader is exposed, explained and dissected. Kathy is now a fully fledged carer and her two closest friends are donors, in this part of the book Kathy undertakes a journey to uncover all those secrets that have built up over the years and, yes it all lies within Hailsham.
Despite all the horrors presented here, Never Let Me Go is an ultra strong tale of friendship and it is the relations between Kathy, Ruth and Tommy which are the real focus of the novel. True it is their situation and Hailsham life which affects this trio’s bond but it is love that shines through.
Ishiguro’s prose is simply beautiful and never ever descends into the vulgar, it’s like eating an After Eight , never harsh and totally satisfying with a surprising amount of depth. It’s well structured flows like a river and gives the reader a lot of joy within the pages. It’s also worth paying close attention to the novel’s title as it plays a crucial role in Kathy’s understanding of life.
It’s funny that there hasn’t been any Ishiguro’s in this reading project as yet cause never Let Me Go was published in 2005 and When We were Orphans was published in 2000. Now we’ll see if The Unconsoled will crop up at that was released in 1995. Now that I’ve read this author I definitely want to keep on investigating his works!