Title: Never Let Me Go
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Release Date: March 14th, 2006
As a child, Kathy—now thirty-one years old—lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.
And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed--even comforted--by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham's nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood—and about their lives now.
A brilliant tale that reflects on life, love and friendship, Never Let Me Go is a novel that stays with you for a long time.
A little bit of dystopian, science fiction and drama at the same time, it tells the story of Kathy. Raised in Hailsham, an isolated boarding school fueled by strict rules and strange secrets, she always knew she and her peers were different. In Hailsham, students are told they're special their whole lives, and because of that, they're sheltered from the outside world. Now thirty-one years old, Kathy reminisces her childhood in Hailsham, and revisits various memories through her life with two of her friends: the tough and tenacious Ruth, and the fiercely loyal and kindhearted Tommy.
Mystery plays a big part in the story, so I don't really want to say much because it will ruin the plot. But one thing I will say is this: reading Kathy's story is comparable to walking into a familiar room you haven't been to in a long time, but with a blindfold on. There's an eerie sense of familiarity and, over time, you begin to get a hang of navigating through it, but there's still an air of mystery evident to keep you hanging on until the very moment you can finally take the blindfold off. Pulling off this kind of writing is no easy task, but Ishiguro does so with mastery and precision. It's pure genius.
I'm not an exclusively-YA reader, though I'll admit that around eighty percent of what I read is YA. I only occasionally venture into reading other genres, and a couple of times, I was disappointed. Some novels couldn't strike a nerve or connect with me the way YA could. But Never Let Me Go is anything but that. From the very first page, I was drawn to Kathy's voice and her story. The emotions in her story, most especially during her encounters with Ruth and Tommy, are both surging and subdued at the same time, they creep up on you and you hardly realize they're there until they hit you all at once.
The characterization is also spot-on. I admit there are times in the novel when it's so tempting to strangle a character or two because they're being dense or unreasonable, everyone is who they need to be at exactly the right time. It would be hard to come up with one-word descriptions for each character, because they all show moments of anger and tenderness throughout the novel. Each one has a repertoire of different feelings and characteristics, a deep pit of surprises. It's absolute perfection.
A tragically beautiful story, Never Let Me Go is a shining novel that's on a league of its own. Some would consider it to be emotionally exhausting, but let me tell you, it's worth it. I was enraptured by the story. It brings something different to the table and is an entirely different reading experience, it deserves every single word of praise it's gotten. Positively haunting and amazing to say the least, this is a book I will be thinking about for a long time.