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In one of the most memorable novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewered version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now 31, Never Let Me Go hauntingly dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School, and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.
I read Never let me go because it’s the book that Big is reading for her English lit iGCSE (please don’t ask me why her school is doing iGCSEs, I don’t know). I was actually quite optimistic about it, as when I instagrammed the cover, a few people made encouraging noises, and it references the Chrysalids inside, which is one of my all time favourite books. (It also references the Handmaid’s tale, which is one of my least favourite books. Hm.)
As ever, no spoilers. But then again, I think you’d be hard pushed to have spoilers for a book in which nothing really seems to happen. I’m sorry, I just didn’t like it. And I really wanted to – Big hasn’t finished it yet, because they’re reading it together in class, but she’d raved about it.
I can sort of see what you might rave about. It is well put together. It’s very obvious this is an experienced author, and there’s a deft touch to the writing. Maybe it’s because I’ve read so many other dystopian books that this one just didn’t really stand out – there’s no action, no tension, it’s all a bit slow. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker I believe, and I can see why people would rate it highly, but it’s not one for me.
If you enjoy contemplative fiction that could well be said to be thought provoking, it’s probably worth a look. As it’s set in a reality not so far removed from ours, it will probably appeal to people who find other dystopians too science fiction or unrealistic. And I did enjoy when it was set in areas of England that I know (quick trip to Norfolk anyone?) but overall, I wasn’t impressed.
Still, at least I’ve broken my reading slump and actually finished a book!