Let me start with this: “Never Let Me Go” is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Maybe this is why it was so difficult for me to write this review and find the right balance between showing my excitement and not spoiling your future reading experience. It’s funny now when I think that I bought this book without having a clue about it!

“The only other thing you need to know is that the book is a page turner and a heartbreaker, a tour de force of knotted tension and buried anguish.” (Lev Grossman, 2005)

never let me go kazuo ishiguro readers high tea

In a nutshell

The story takes place in an imaginary version of England and it is told from Kathy’s point of view. Now 31, Kathy recalls her childhood and teenage years spent at Hailsham School, a place similar to a boarding school. Her memories are beautifully interwoven with events happening in the present, making the episodic structure immersive and very easy to follow.

Themes of Never Let Me Go

The story illustrates complex themes such as the fate of human beings, the impact of childhood, and the complexities of friendships. The writer, Nobel-winner Kazuo Ishiguro, stated that “growing up in England in a Japanese household was crucial to his writing, enabling him to see things from a different perspective to many of his British peers” (BBC, 2017).

Key features that will keep you hooked on

From my point of view, there are 3 main features that make “Never Let Me Go” such an exciting and unputdownable read:

  • Important details of the story are revealed one by one as you read the book, casually mentioned when you expect the least. So you don’t know from the start exactly what’s going on in this dystopian world, but you slowly discover its intricacies
  • In the same time, you are fully dependent on what Kathy chooses to disclose or not (based on her feelings and what she thinks is appropriate to share). This situation gives birth to that mix of frustration and excitement that is so addictive when reading a very good book!
  • While the book has a closed end, there are still many issues left unexplained. So at the same time you have the false impression of understanding how that universe looked like, followed by a post-reading feeling of emptiness because of all unanswered questions … again, a sign that you read a very good book!

Wrap-up

“Never Let Me Go” is a moving story which will surely make you grow fond (at least) of the three main characters. Just so you know, you might shed a tear (or more) by the end of the book. It’s needless to say that I highly recommend reading this book, it’s a must-read for sure!

I’m curious – have you read any books written by Ishiguro? If yes, which one(s) do you recommend?

‘Till next time … happy reading!

Georgiana


PS: There’s also a movie based on Ishiguro’s book, but is it not nearly as good as the book. I highly recommend reading the book before watching the movie.

Images from FullStop.net

9 thoughts on “A dystopian story about fate and friendship: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (book review)

  1. Nice review! I’m planning on starting with The Remains of the Day when I shift to reading mostly fiction next month, but if I have time I might check this out as well after reading your thoughts.

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  2. I loved “Never let me go”. I also read “The remains of the day”, but it didn’t engage me in the same way. After finishing “My brilliant friend”, I’ve started reading “When we were orphans”. I recognize Kazuo’s Ishiguro style of revealing things that happened in the past that offer a better understanding of what’s happening in the present. I don’t yet have a fully formed opinion about this book, because I just finished reading the first chapter, but it’s promising.

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    1. Andreea, you have a lot of experience with Ishiguro’s novels! I also find this combination of past & present very engaging, and there was plenty of it in “Never Let Me Go”.
      Happy reading, and hope to hear from you after you finish the book 🙂

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  3. What a fantastic review – and I am so happy to find someone loving this book as much as I did. I absolutely loved it when I read it, and I expected nothing of it, nor did I know a lot about it when I first started reading it. gradually, it just took me away and that ending ahh. I loved it SO much! 😀

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