Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Quietly emotional, utterly depressing.

neverletmegoNever Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Genres: Fiction, Dystopia
Published: 31st August, 2010
Series: N/A
Rating: 3

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.
Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.
Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.

Oh, dear… Where do I begin with this one?

I love dystopia, and had my eye on this one for quite a while. It’s been out for almost ten years, but I think I was very efficient with avoiding spoilers. Or so I thought. A few months ago we had a new guy join our team, and he takes his lunch the same time I do, and we often end up discussing books. Last month we were talking about Kafka, and he said the dude wrote a super depressing book about so-and-so. To me it sounded an awful lot like Never Let Me Go, even though I’ve never read it, so we came to the conclusion that this was it. I immediately felt like I just had the whole book spoiled, but my colleague ensured me he only read the first chapter before tossing it under the bed where it still stays till this day, so surely there must be more to it. Some big reveal, or a plot twist.never_let_me_go_m

Well, there wasn’t… There really just wasn’t.

While I do appreciate the sentiment, and find the topic absolutely fascinating, the execution of the story left me exasperated. The story is told entirely by Kathy, and has this anecdotal feel to it that just got on my nerves really quickly. You see, she starts reminiscing about one thing, only to go off the track, and then circle back a few chapters later with an “as I said before”. I think I could have overlooked this if there was actually a lot happening, but to me it felt like we are just talking about nothing and running circles around something that is not the least interesting. Ya boring!

While seemingly there wasn’t much going on, it was emotionally draining. Kathy, Ruth and Tommy were so painfully passive, basically like human doormats. Of course, there was sort of the point of the story, but it didn’t make it any more enjoyable.

As a study on human nature it’s brilliant. Kazuo Ishiguro takes a sharp look at society and how people tend to treat others who are perceived inferior to them. It was heartbreaking, but entirely realistic and may I add truly scary. It’s so easy for morals to slip when humanity gets something that seemingly solves all their problems. Fuck consequences if they don’t affect you, right?



  1. Norrie this one keep popping up when I am looking at something like thriller or mystery or “readers who loved this loved that” which is insane as you said it’s been published ten years ago! Well what can I say? It must have been hyped but told in an anecdoyic way as you say I don’t think I would have liked it either!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, classic… those recommendations drive me nuts. This is neither a thriller, nor a mystery – quite early on they discuss what’s going on and then it’s just a lot of reminiscing after that… :/


  2. You made it further than your colleague  This sounds really heavy and heart wrenching. Glad to hear that it is a realistic read though and thought provoking. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved your review of this book! I also wanted to read Never Let Me Go for quite a while, and was excited when someone in my book club picked it out. Similar to your experience though, I was let down by the story. The premise is great, but the book as a whole, not so much. I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt this way!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I actually like this book a lot, but only on the 2nd reading (when I studied it at uni for a sci fi module) – first time I found it underwhelming. It is really sad though. I saw the film when it was first out and people were crying in the cinema.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I hear you. I just grabbed a couple of YA fantasy novels yesterday in order to get out of my reading slump. I think I might take an extended break from crime for a couple of weeks, or more. πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This book does get extra points for me for being the first adult book I’ve read with a protagonist named “Kathy” (with a K, not a C). πŸ˜› And I 1000% agree with you on it being a fantastic study of humanity (more so than an entertaining story). Probably why so many lit teachers and profs have it in their curriculum. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, that’s nice! I usually don’t come across books that have characters with my name πŸ˜€

      Man, teachers lately seem to be cooler than when i was in school! We never studied anything modern. The newest stuff was published in like 1960… :/


  6. shiiiiit, you did it, you read it! I feel like it’s one of those books that is on one of those- x amount of books to read before you die’ and obvs I have been meaning to meet the challenge that is Never Let Me Go… I will.. one day… maybe πŸ˜€


    1. I saw a girl (16ish) reading it on the train when we were going on holiday. I heard she’s going to the same place too and i thought “man, you picked the best book to dampen your mood”, but you are right. It can work for some πŸ˜€ I’m glad you liked it!


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