Created on Friday, 02 September 2011 00:27
Written by Natalie Wong
What makes a good book? An exciting plot? Intriguing characters? That was what I used to think. Interestingly, Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go defies my checklist yet remains one of my favorite reads so far.
Kathy, Tommy and Ruth appears to be living and studying in a board school named Hailsham, or so it seems. The teachers are called guardians instead and the students are strongly encouraged to produce art and poetry, of which value could be likened to money as they get to buy or exchange for material stuff including the artwork of the other students. Or, if their artwork were that good, it would be selected by the mysterious Madame, who keeps them in a secret gallery.
Unlike the movie, the book reveals the oddities of the haven much more slowly and sparingly than the movie. Readers, at least those who are observant, patient or curious enough, would notice bit by bit strange occurrences in this "school". It seems that the students are there for a purpose – a purpose that they are unable to grasp as young children but one that is important perhaps for themselves or the founders of the school. Nonetheless, it is without doubt that these students are privileged by being in Hailsham, where they get to love and live freely. And so does the trio. For more details, you will have to read the book; I wouldn't want to spoil it for you by saying more here.
Never Let Me Go eludes an extremely real feeling with the story narrated from the point of view of a 31-year-old Kathy, who is now officially a "carer". And even when the sad realities of their lives and purposes are revealed, I felt myself drawn deeper in, to understand and explore this concept. While it may seem that Ishiguro was simply relating the sad story of the three individuals and their predetermined fates, he actually touches on the contentious idea of creating clones for the sake of extending our mortality – what would commonly also be known as playing God – as selfish and even cruel more deeply than it superficially seems.
Even as I put the book down, I found myself thinking about their circumstances and even wondering philosophically if our fates have been predetermined as well? Anyway, I digress. Never Let Me Go is yet another impressive book by famed author Ishiguro, one worth reading even if you know the ending and one which would be leaving you with some food for thought.
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