Saturday, January 2, 2010

School Book: Never Let Me Go

I thought Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go sounded intriguing, so I decided to read it next (plus Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus wasn't here yet, so I needed something else to read). Unfortunately, Never Let Me Go just never lived up to my expectations. Also, spoiler alert - I talk a bit about the plot here.
The back of the book says that Kathy, Ruth and Tommy are special. They grow up as students at Hailsham. And it is only after they are grown up and near the end of their lives that they realize just how special they are. Like I said, it's intriguing. But in practice, Never Let Me Go read like bad sci-fi. It didn't take me long to realize that these kids weren't normal, with the talk of being a carer for those who are giving donations. And there was never any talk of seeing their parents, or of going home for the holidays.
It turns out that these kids are clones, created so they can donate their organs when they get older. This is a strange and ineffective system going on: the kids grow up, have to care for older clones who are donating, then start donating their own organs once they're finished. It doesn't matter that a lot of people are un-suited to being a carer, this is the way the system works. The book never explains why they needed clones, either; wouldn't it be more efficient just to grow new organs in a lab?
Anyway, Never Let Me Go is the story, told from Kathy's viewpoint, of her and her friends growing up, and how their friendship is first shattered, and then brought back together later in life. Unfortunately, through almost all of the book, I kept wondering why I should care. None of the characters really seemed to come to life for me, and I had a hard time caring about them until the end. I thought the end was pretty good, when it explained everything and gave me a bit of a reason to care about the characters. But it was too little too late. And right after the climax, when all the mysteries are revealed (including what makes the Hailsham students so special), the book seems to meander to a close, and again I found myself losing interest in the main characters. Overall, I was unimpressed with this book. And don't be fooled by the quote on the cover from Time; this book wasn't a page-turner.

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