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The Classics Companion

I have a (small) obsession with books and tv shows. Proud geek.

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro I'm not going to lie, this book confused the hell out of me. And I'm not sure what to think about it.

I expected it to be a typical Utopian novel, following a group of people through their growing up. Typically with Utopian/Dystopian fiction, you get a very clear sense of the society you're in, how it differs from the current day, and general feelings about it.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it. It was wonderfully written, had a touching narrative and was deceptively complex. It addressed some very philosophical issues at the end of the book. This is, for me, what made it enjoyable. The simple story on the outside, following three friends through their life, led to some big questions, ones which were addressed wonderfully in the closing chapters. Is cloning right? Do clones deserve the same rights? And more important, are they human?

One thing I can congratulate Ishiguro on is his creation of his characters, and their friendship. For that reason, it was a lovely book. Without having long character descriptions outlining key traits etc, you got a wonderful sense of their character just through the story of their childhood. Albeit, it was a different childhood, one shrouded in secrecy and constant references to things neither the characters or the reader understood. But it kept you reading, hoping to find out what it was all about, and how they grew up.

Yet this want to find out what happened made the book trouble me. It cleared it up to some extent: the donations, the characters' journey. But it didn't fully explain the society. There was little explanation of it's values, of it's politics or it's creation. Instead, it was vaguely answered, with only references to it's creation of 'students' to donate organs to stop cancer. Yes, this was relevant to the characters, but there was no sense of a wider picture. Hence, my overall disappointment in the book.

For me, any novel I read concerning a differing society to ours, I love to be detailed and complex, one where I understand the society inside and out like it was my own. This shows literature's power at making new worlds. On the contrary, with this book, it ended with half answered questions and lingering doubts in my mind. Why didn't the students rebel against their donations? Why didn't they at all question their position in society? Did they once think towards the part they played, and how they were cast as 'second class citizens'?

It was a beautiful story, and one very well written. But from the point of view of a Utopia/Dystopia reader, it was rather unsatisfying. It could have been so much better in my opinion. I would recommend you read it, but not if you want a deep, different society that is built wholeheartedly. If you want a tale of friendship and love, then I would completely recommend it.