Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Never Let Me Go - kazuo ishiguro

Hooray! A book on the 100 list that doesn't make me poke my eyes out!
Ishiguro's novel examines the question of cloning. What if it were incredibly simple? What if we could clone whomever we needed or wanted to? What if that meant curing cancer and AIDS and ridding ourselves of other various illness? What if the government mass produced these clones, so that when they were old enough, their organs could be harvested for humankind's benefit? In the world Ishiguro creates, all of these things are not only possible, but they're happening. Never Let Me Go is the story of three young people growing up in a "special" school called Hailsham. Our narrator is one of these clones, though as a "child" she is not made fully aware of her purpose. She understands the concept of family; that she does not and will not ever have one. But that her life is not her own; that is an issue she will not face until later in life..
What I found most interesting about this novel was the instituion of Hailsham. A school created as part of a movement that demanded more humane treatment of these child clones or "students". Its founders thought the students should have as close to a normal life as possible until their donation time came upon them. They focused on keeping the children creative, using art as a tool to prove that they had souls. And indeed, as Ishiguro writes them, these children do have souls. They have hurt feelings, crushes, embarrassment, etc., everything a normal child would have to deal with as well.
So, how far is too far? Could we really separate the idea of humanity and medicine when our saviors from disease look, act and feel just like us? Would we be able to live with that? Never Let Me Go does not answer any of these questions for its reader, but rather, dares to ask the questions. I found it to be incredibly well written, captivating, though provoking and an overall lovely novel. The genius of Ishiguro is that he reveals small parts of the truth behind the story little by little; I loved being slowly let in on the secret. He creates this world that is completely fascinating, even though you aren't quite sure what's happening most of the time. I found myself discussing this book with A. on a regular basis, and, not surprisingly, he had tons of questions for me, as I revealed more of the book's mystery to him. Naturally, these were questions that I had no answers for yet, but I found it exciting to continue reading, so that I could come back the following night and fill A in on what had happened/answer his questions. Never Let Me Go would make a really great pick for a book club.
Next Up: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like another one to add to my already growing reading list. I need to retire soon so I can read all these books and not have to worry about grading papers or anything else.
    You did a great job stimulatiing my curiosity in the premise of this book.