Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, is a novel with a unique subject matter…which took me about fifty pages to understand. The book is a story line with disturbing ramifications imposed upon individuals.
The main character and narrator is a person named Kathleen, and the reader is given insight into her background, little by little. She grew up in a school, known as Hailsham, in the English countryside, along with her two close friends Tom and Ruth. Kathleen, who is a “carer”, is a quiet, observant and listens to, and watches, the subtleties that are told to them by their school guardians.
The guardians have a strict command over the children, and often treat them as if they were less than human. Once I understood the concept of the book, that issue infuriated me. We all have heard of orphanages and boarding schools that treat their students as if they were nonexistent, or treat them in an emotionally devoid manner. And, the resultant behavior of the adults forces a lifetime of emotional consequences on the children involved. Hailsham is just such a place. Its disciplinary and educational methods verge on the unethical.
That is the overtone of Never Let Me Go, the fact that humans are extremely inhumane to others. The human condition is examined in depth, without Ishiguro actually mentioning it outright. The children are treated as less than human, less than animals. The signs are there, everywhere the children are, and each time they attempt to learn about their backgrounds. Ethics, science, humanity and conditioning are explored in depth through Kathleen’s observance and quietude.
I am not divulging any of the story line, because to do so would definitely spoil it for the you, the reader/s of this review. You would know immediately what the story involves, and it is best that you don’t know. I will say that it is a disturbing book on so many levels, mainly beginning with humanity and the human condition. Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, had me questioning many things, and the whys and wherefores always came back to ethics. Science and ethics do not blend well within the pages, and I believe that is what Kazuo Ishiguro intended, as a whole, within the story. He wants the reader to ponder and question, to think about scientific advances and their merits and their flaws. Are they really advances, in the true sense. Are they really ethical? Do they really enhance life, or do they foster an attitude of disinterest in the outcomes in order to gain information?
So many disturbing scenes were depicted, and lack of emotion for the children was illuminated within the pages. It was not a happy read, not a positive read, but one that was not only sad, but extremely tragic.
Read Never Let Me Go, and let me know your thoughts.