Friday, January 4, 2013

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This novel is a beautifully written story that contains a heartbreaking meditation on human mortality. Written in a straightforward yet utterly engaging style, this is a brilliant science fiction book that masquerades as a traditional fiction novel. For those who are not familiar with the plot, (and if you are not, I highly encourage that you not find out before reading this story in order to let the book fully work its magic), the tale begins like a classic literary novel. If you didn't know better, you could be mistaken for thinking this was a classic book of English literature set in contemporary times. As the story evolves, however, the brilliant plot and themes begin to reveal themselves,  leaving the reader mesmerized.

The book's narrator is a woman named Kathy H., who recalls her time as a student in a peculiar boarding school in the English countryside called Hailsham. Remembering her experience growing up with her friends Ruth and Tommy, Kathy begins to reveal the mystery of the school, and more importantly the tragic destinies of the school's students. When the reader finally discovers what the students are, and then near the end of the book what the teachers were trying to accomplish with the school, the reader can't help but be overwhelmed with emotion and thoughts on justice, ethics and ultimately mortality.

Never Let Me Go was shortlisted for the 2005 Man Booker Prize but lost out to John Banville's The Sea. In my opinion, the jury awarded the prize to the wrong author, as Kazuo Ishiguro's novel is, in my view, vastly superior to Banville's book. While The Sea is a well-written book, it did not capture my imagination, nor was the plot that captivating. (See my review here). By contrast, I found Never Let Me Go to be a fantastic novel with a highly original plot and wonderful writing.

5 out of 5 stars