February 20, 2011

Never Let Me Go, By Kazuo Ishiguro

I'd heard about Never Let Me Go, if you count the fact that I'd heard about the movie version that came out in 2010. But, I didn't really know what it was about, so when my book club decided on the novel as our latest pick, I was excited to dive in.

Now that I've finished, I'm left feeling rather unsure about the book. I can't quite decide if I liked it or if I didn't. What I can tell you is that I struggled throughout the entire book to stay interested and even remember where I'd left off in the plot.

Plot: The story is told from Kathy's voice, who was a student at a prestigious boarding school along with two other characters, Ruth and Tommy. Kathy, now an adult, is reliving the memories of that school and her old friends as she comes to terms with just what the school was preparing them for later in life.

It sounds intriguing, but for me, it moved too slow. This is considered a sci-fi novel, but it's set in the 1990s and the "sci" part of sci-fi is buried in narration. You know it's there, but you don't really get the ins and outs of it until the last 50 pages. The backstory is never fully revealed, which was a problem for me. I really don't want to give too much away, so that's the only way I can describe it. With any good sci-fi novel, you know why things are the way they are. In fact, I've read other sci-fi novels with a similar theme as Never Let Me Go, and I've enjoyed them so much more because the author as given distinct and clear reasoning for why the novel's world is the way it is. Here, you really have to dig deep and don't get a full picture until the very end.

Characters: The three main characters were certainly intriguing, but because of Ishiguro's writing style, they seem passive, almost like figments. In fact, the entire story felt very surreal, as if the characters were trapped in a foggy dream instead of actively living the lives set before them. And again, the lack of a back story contributed to this feeling. The characters are dealing with a very difficult reality, yet the reader doesn't understand the full implications of this reality. For me, that made it difficult to understand and get behind the characters.

Structure: As I mentioned, the writing style made the book feel more like a break from reality than an actual sci-fi reality. I feel like with a bit more explanation and a bit less musing by the main character, it could have been a very different book.

I will say that I was glad I finished the book, and will definitely watch the movie (if only to see Andrew Garfield), but this wasn't a favorite of mine. 3 stars.

1 comment:

  1. I was so looking forward to reading this, but when I did, I was less than impressed. Interesting story, but didn't like the flow at all.

    Just watched the movie this weekend (my book club is reading it right now, so I thought that'd be a great way to catch up!), and it makes for a much better movie than book. You'll enjoy Andrew Garfield in it!


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