Book Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
As a dystopian novel, not like any other dystopian novel, Never Let Me Go is set in England, but with a mysterious twist. The narrator, Kathy, tells about her time at the boarding school Hailsham and her life after leaving it. While I did not have a lot of experience reading dystopian novels, this story intrigued and baffled me. Ishiguro added an unsettling quality to something that at first sight seems so normal; a girl with friends at a boarding school. Slowly, however, as different pieces of the puzzle fall into place, the reader finds out what is going on in England.
What’s intriguing about this novel is that it is set in England as we know it. The story takes place in England in the 1990s, to which Ishiguro only adds elements. England is relatively normal, almost making this novel unrecognizable as a dystopian novel.
While this novel sets you thinking about the future and the role of technology, the novel also functions as a romantic and coming-of-age story. The characters start at Hailsham, and Kathy follows their dynamic. This includes memories about Ruth, Kathy’s best friend who can be quite trying, and Tommy, who Kathy has a crush on. These characters are the focus of the novel, which I found an interesting approach to a dystopian novel.
“You have to accept that sometimes that’s how things happen in this world. People’s opinions, their feelings, they go one way, then the other. It just so happens you grew up at a certain point in this process.”
― Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
In addition to the characters and their dynamic, Ishiguro carefully constructed the novel to reveal details about the dystopian plot element. Kathy as a narrator slowly introduces the dystopian plot throughout the novel and does so in a very subtle way. This, while you might suspect what’s going on, still gives a plot twist.
I do not want to go into specific plot details, but the ending of the novel is intriguing. Ishiguro’s goal is not to inform you of what he thinks, nor is it to let you know the details of his version of England. The goal of this novel is to set you thinking and, in my opinion, that is exactly what it does.
With Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro has created an innovative dystopian novel that will be on your mind for a while after reading it. Personally, I fell in love with the characters and their story. This novel also ends in a subtle way. Don’t expect a nice conclusion because this novel will not give it to you. The beauty of this novel is that it sets you thinking.
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