Book Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
I bought this book for a cheap P 315.00. It’s a quick read (about 290 pages) and I figured the price was just enough. After finishing it, however, I thought to myself on how lucky I was to have bought this for such a low price.
When I finally reached the final chapter, I slowly read every sentence as if I wanted to immerse myself in this book until the very last word. It’s the kind of book you wouldn’t want to end but you also want to see how it ends.
I’ll try to make this review as spoiler free as possible. If there would be, I’d warn you before hand. I seriously recommend NOT reading any reviews or articles (like wikis) that you know may spoil you.
This is the most beautiful tragedy I’ve ever read. This will never let me go.
The plot is as fresh as it is timeless. I’ve never read anything like this. The story starts out fine, making the reader imagine a utopia wherein the characters live in a world away from the evils of society and corrupted minds. The reader is immersed in a world of idealization, perfection even.
The main characters name (the narrator of the story) is Kathy H. Yes, you read that right. The author named his (main) characters until the first letter of the surname only. Perhaps to avoid similarities or any coincidences with real people’s conditions (which if you read the book, you’ll understand why). She’s been reminiscing about the past for the past year as she acknowledges the fact that her life, together with her friends, will slowly come to an end. She travels alone to places she would always be reminded of her past; her previous life; and her dreams.
The story, as earlier described, starts out in a utopia; a world far away from everything. Everything starts out beautifully until the reader is slowly, but surely, made to realize that their world is a utopia only within it’s boundaries. The reader would soon realize that the utopia, and everything describing it as heaven on Earth, is but a mere facade to the reality the characters would soon, rather, were meant to face. Yes, meant to face. The characters were practically made to do a certain purpose, removing any possibility of living their lives to the fullest, taking away their hopes and dreams. The truth about the characters and the gravity of their responsibilities were never written as if they were tragic. They were written in such a way that it was treated as a normal thing to think about. In fact, it’s so normal it’s scary. To actually have something like that be accepted by the whole of society is just too much.
The unethical aspects of this book is treated so lightly because the world the characters live in let it be treated lightly. The characters, though they know what faces them, would only live their lives as if everything would be fine in the end. And it is how they play their roles as human beings, rather than as mere living things, that embodies the story of this book. It teaches the reader to consider human life as a very precious energy, no matter what form it takes.
The characters themselves are quite colorful as the way the author made them to be. There’s never a dull moment with them. It’s like slicing a piece of someone’s life and putting it in this book. It’s very realistic that way. There are no “perfect man for every woman” or that “smart, sexy, and ass-kicking chick next door” type of characters. Just real people with real problems, real hopes and dreams.
The book covers how they cope with being human and how they experience the same pleasures and hardships everybody else experiences though they weren’t meant to. The characters are treated with so much care but it also shows how different they are to the rest of society.
I don’t remember getting tired of reading this book. I often had to remind myself to stop reading after a certain chapter so I could do my job or attend that meeting I scheduled. The story is a mix of emotion but it somehow keeps everything in moderation; not too happy and not too sad. This kind of writing keeps the reader’s eyes glued to the book. And as I mentioned earlier, it’s quite realistic. You can’t help but imagine living in a world they live in.
The book also mainly discusses how something as simple and trivial such as love could mean the world to these people. Love, something taken so lightly by so many was the key to their emancipation; their fulfilment; their happiness. In more ways tha one, love is explored in such an innocent yet bold manner. The way love is emphasized and given importance in this book is something to behold altogether and something the author has successfully defined all throughout the pages even if they were so subtle and often read between the lines.
This book is a story of different people leading similar lives towards a future that is already set out for them. The journey they take as they course from childhood to adulthood is similar to a story everyone is familiar with: Your own. The ending wasn’t the real sad part. The fact that you know you’ll miss the characters in this book, as if the characters, specially Kathy H., grew on you and now you treated them as real people, friends even, that you didn’t want the story to end even though you knew it had to, the fact that you related so well with them and now you’ll lose the people you identified with, that is the real sad part.
OVER ALL: 10/10
I caught a glimpse of his face in the moonlight, caked in mud and distorted with fury, then I reached for his flailing arms and held on tight. He tried to shake me off, but I kept holding on, until he stopped shouting and I felt the fight go out of him. Then I realised he too had his arms around me. And so we stood together like that, at the top of that field, for what seemed like ages, not saying anything, just holding each other, while the wind kept blowing and blowing at us, tugging our clothes, and for a moment, it seemed like we were holding onto each other because that was the only way to stop us being swept away into the night.
I was thinking about the rubbish, the flapping plastic in the branches, the shore-line of odd stuff caught along the fencing, and I half-closed my eyes and imagined this was the spot where everything I’d ever lost since my childhood had washed up, and I was now standing here in front of it, and if I waited long enough, a tiny figure would appear on the horizon across the field, and gradually get larger until I’d see it was Tommy, and he’d wave, maybe even call. The fantasy never got beyond that –I didn’t let it– and though the tears rolled down my face, I wasn’t sobbing or out of control. I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be.