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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro


Book: Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Vintage Books
Release Date: August 31st, 2010

 As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.

I'm not even sure where to begin with this book. The whole thing is narrated by our main character, Kathy, and I always got the feeling that we were sitting down side by side with a cup of tea, while she told me the story of her life. As she was speaking, she would suddenly remember a vital piece of information and go back and talk about it. It didn’t read like any book I’d ever read, and yet there was something very compelling about it.

This is a book recommended to read before you die, while you’re in your in twenties, etc. It tells the story of Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, who grew up in what appears to be a British boarding school, simply living their lives, never questioning why they never had parents or siblings and just lived in the school all year long. However, throughout the novel we come to realise that all the students at this school are actually cloned children, and they were created simply to become donors for ill people when they come of age. When the clones die after donating, they have completed their lives. No one ever truly rebels against this; it’s just the way it is. It’s their life, they don’t know any different.

But this book is also a love story, both in romance and in friendship. We see how our three main characters became so close, the experiences that bonded them; the fights they had; yet they always made up in the end. It’s also a coming of age story. While the idea of all the students in the school being clones is actually rather horrifying, that’s not the main issue of the story. Nobody ever asks why – they only discover what it means to be human and try and make their lives meaningful despite what they are. Just as you and I need to find meaning in our lives.

The students also talk about souls, and the guardians of the school always wonder whether the students have souls. But not in a sense of where do clones go after they die – it always comes back to whether you are human or clone. No matter who you are, you should still treat everybody as somebody, as no matter who or what you are, you are still going to die of something.

This is a story about three close friends, who discover what it means to live and love in a world that would never fully accept them as human.


  1. Great review! I read this book last year and really liked it. It is an unusual story.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!


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