“Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro

Well, I finished Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. There are a lot of factors that influenced my reading of this book, and I know it has affected my thoughts on the book. The background is that this was a chosen book for my reading group this month, so I didn’t have the luxury of choosing when to read it to a certain extent. I’d wanted to read the book soon anyway, but again this was also influenced by the film adaptation coming out shortly. Along side the timing issue, again due to the film, I had already associated characters with the actors portraying them and I had an idea of the theme of the book. Another issue I had was that I’d only read this author once before and had been distinctly underwhelmed by the short story collection I read last year, yet his early novels had been highly recommended, so I was intrigued to know how I would find this, one of his later novels.

So. Hmmm. While I was reading it, I thought the book was compelling. At the end of each session of reading, I was desperate to keep going to find out how the story would progress. But, here’s my problem. By the end, I didn’t feel that I knew the characters, I wasn’t convinced by the development of the plot, and the voice of the narrator seemed young and naive, while the character was actually reflecting back on life after the revelations of the story.

I’m still in two minds about the book, and I think I’ve realised why I found it so compelling, but ultimately so unsatisfying. I’m a story person, and what really grabs me is a great plot, but I knew before I started the book who the characters were, so I was waiting for the reveal rather than surprised by it.

My biggest disappointment though, was by the end, I wanted to see some sort of rebellion or outrage at the system from one of the characters instead of total acceptance. Even the moral stance of the guardians at Hailsham dwindled out, but what I was most disappointed by was the glossing over of the Morningdale scandal, which I felt was a key factor to how the story played out by the end and raises crucial issues in the debate, but was woefully underplayed.

Having said that, I think it will provoke a lively discussion at my reading group, so that’s something to look forward to!

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