Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I don’t remember what DVD I was watching, but it had a trailer for “Never Let Me Go” the movie, which reminded me I needed to read the book. I was also waiting for some other books to be available from the library (story of my life), and it was available. Win-win!

Never-Let-Me-Go-2010Never Let Me Go is set in an exclusive boarding school in England, and is told through a series of reminisces by Kathy, our main character and POV throughout the novel. There are many many hints and allusions to the sci-fi nature of this book – “donations” and “guardians” and a mysterious Madame who collects student’s artwork periodically without explanation… Maybe I’m spoiled by more intense sci-fi that spends a lot of time universe building, but I just never felt like I got enough detail out of Never Let Me Go. It was too subtle to hold my interest for very long, and I found myself only reading a chapter or 2 every night… I never caught the bug and felt like I HAD to know what was going to happen next.


As Kathy, our protagonist, describes more and more about her life at Halisham, we learn about her complicated friendships with Tommy and Ruth, who eventually become a couple as teenagers. But yet, Kathy and Tommy have a certain connection that can’t be denied. As the trio ages and leaves Halisham, their 3-way relationship gets more and more angsty. Eventually, the friendships disintegrate and they aren’t reunited until Ruth and Tommy have completed their first “donations” and are in ill health. On Ruth’s deathbed, some secrets are revealed, and Kathy and Tommy are finally able to be together…

If you’ve seen the trailer, it’s pretty angsty and dramatic. They must have really amped up the little bits of drama there are in the novel to create enough oomph to make a whole movie out of this. The novel is VERY VERY subtle. It was an interesting premise, but one that didn’t engage me enough, and the small bright spots of action were too few and far between.

I feel bad saying this was too subtle – I like subtlety! I can appreciate it! But just not this one. Maybe I’ll rent the movie on one of my days off, just to compare and contrast.