Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
This story is set in an alternate Britain and is narrated by a carer named Kathy H, telling the story of her life and those of her best friends, Ruth and Tommy – from their early days at boarding school, to living independently, to starting her career. Except, as I said, this is an alternate Britain, and there’s rather more going on beneath the surface – but this is only revealed gradually through the course of the story, and I’m loath to spoil it.
First off, the first person narration is done authentically; for the most part, it does sound like someone telling a story off the top of their head. Kathy will often refer to some event and then explain what happened, and sometimes go off on a tangent and talk about something separate or what took place later on – however, while it sounds natural, this habit can be distracting sometimes. On a similar note, the story will often show something and leave it to the reader to figure out just what it meant – there’s a balance to be found between holding the reader’s hand and explaining everything, and leaving things so vague that the reader is left scratching their head, and this story does occasionally veer off into the latter. (The ending does manage to explain quite a lot, though.)
Kathy, unfortunately, is not really a very interesting narrator – Ruth and Tommy have more interesting complexities than she does.
Having seen some of the movie, I was already aware of most of the twists in this story when I started reading. But the morality of the whole thing didn’t really hit me until the ending; the final explanations manage to make the whole story more effective and sad, and leave us reflecting on the fact that even in the world we know, we’re all too happy just embracing the comfortable things we can see and not paying attention to the darker details behind the scenes.
Not the most cheerful story, then, but very compelling. Rating: 4/5.