Book Club: Never Let Me Go
Readers will recognise the title of Kazou Ishiguro’s sixth novel from the recent blockbuster staring rising starlet Carey Mulligan and the ever-pouty Keira Knightley.
Though performances have been highly commended, the success of the film can be largely attributed to the inspiration found in Ishiguro’s poignant prose.
The novel is framed by Kathy H., our narrator, who reminisces about her time spent at leafy Sussex boarding school Hailsham. Ishiguro paints a picture of the ideal, where Kathy and friend Tommy and Ruth live out their youth in a state of heightened emotion.
As Kathy H., recounts her time at Hailsham, sinister elements begin to emerge within the memories of her adolescent utopia. Her narrative becomes littered with unanswered questions and absences of normality- teachers are referred to as ‘guardians’, there are enforced weekly medical check-ups, and parents are never mentioned. While prolonged build-up may test readers’ patience, the revelations come in thick and fast at the end of the novel providing a harrowing climax.
Never Let Me Go has been acclaimed as a work of popular science fiction. For those readers expecting an up-to-date Brave New World or 1984, there is a distinct lack of science in Ishiguro’s fiction. Yet this is its brilliance. Rather than becoming preoccupied with the conventions of the genre, the writer focuses on human emotion captivating not only readers’ curiosity but also their sensibilities.
Do not be put off by the big questions in this novel. Rather, settle into Ishiguro’s accessible and conversational prose, enjoy the anecdotes and be patient.