“Never Let Me Go” – July book 1

I have a terrible habit of starting books and never finishing them, even though I enjoy them, and want to finish them. With all but a few books, if I put it down where it’s not obviously in my sight, I will forget about it. For months, years even. It’s dumb, because I’m only limiting my own fun by doing that. So I arbitrarily decided (my favorite kind of decisions) to read 4 books in the month of July. Four books I haven’t read before, because there’s another one of my little problems: always rereading old favorites when there’s a mountain of literature out there, just because I know the old favorites won’t let me down.

The first book of the month was Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, and honestly I really started it around June 29. Grace, people. I saw the movie several years ago on a plane, so I knew a little bit about it, but not much (somehow I never really remember the movies I watch on planes). All I remembered was 1. Depressing 2. The twist and 3. I hate Kiera Knightley’s character.

I chose to read it because a friend was writing a paper for grad school on it and asked me to read her paper. It piqued my interest in the book.

The book is not as depressing as I remember the movie to be. I think this is largely in part because of the protagonist’s narration. It’s as though she’s telling you a story, in a very winding, conversational, and casual tone. So very casual, given the premise of the book. The very casualness with which she, Kathy H, and her classmates regard their lot in life is disconcerting and agitating.

What is it? You ask. What is their lot in life?

Ha! I’m not going to tell you! Read the book! (Or watch the movie.)

I will tell you this: beginning at a school in the English countryside, Never Let Me Go is Kathy H’s recollections of her young life and her friendships with Ruth and Tommy. This little book is a myriad of philosophical and ethical questions, in an intimate, low-key package. It asks REALLY BIG questions in a really quiet way. You will enjoy learning Kathy H’s story, but you will also find yourself ruminating on little affectations, passing mentions, and character traits in order to understand the bigger picture behind her words.

Is this review vague enough for you? I’d love to go into some of my own ruminations on it, such as what Ishiguro might be commenting on with all the euphemistic language – donor, student, complete. But to do so would spoil the discovery for you, much like the movie spoiled the discovery for me. The book is still quite worth it, whether or not you’ve seen the movie. If you like philosophical books, you should read it. If you like to read books that are smart but you don’t have to slog through them, read it. If you want something poignant, read it. If you want to shut your brain off and be mindlessly entertained, watch TV.

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