Ishiguro is more famous for writing The Remains of the Day which was met with mixed reviews just Never Let Me Go is. A feeling that life’s path is already set out for you and there’s nothing you can do but meekly follow what life expects is an uncomfortable issue for most people. Regardless of what we want to think, we are trapped by society, even the most free of us, we all need to work to live, we all get stuck in a terrible monotonous cycle of sustaining our existence. And this is why I believe some reviews are so negative, people see their own trapped acceptance of life in this book.
But what is it about? Well the story revolves around three main characters Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, all three are doomed to die young because they are clones existing purely to provide organs to keep non-clones healthy, at around 20 they become “donors” and continue to have their organs taken one by one in a very ghoulish manner until they “complete” which is what the clones call death, once clones have “completed” their remaining organs are harvested and given to ill non-clones. The reader follows Kathy’s narrative all through her life starting at the mysterious boarding school Hailsham (aptly named) which tries to fight for a better world for clones, better living conditions and treatment but most importantly trying to prove the clones had souls. We learn that this movement was very popular until a race of “super-children” was created which made the whole of society shove the clones back into the shadows in fear and disgust along with all other genetic engineering.
Kathy and Tommy make a weak attempt to avoid the fate waiting for them but ultimately they just sit back and accept that they are going to die. I find this acceptance to be the most powerful theme in book because I was practically screaming at the characters to run away, refuse to die or just do something. But they didn’t succeed, just as we never escape that cycle-like prison in life, their effort was small and now they accept death.
“This extraordinary and, in the end, rather frighteningly clever novel isn’t about cloning, or being a clone, at all. It’s about why we don’t explode, why we don’t wake up one day and go sobbing and crying down the street, kicking everything to pieces out of raw, infuriating, completely personal sense of our lives never having been what they could have been” ~ M.J. Harrison, The Guardian
So give it a read, chances are you’ll either hate it or find yourself touched by it.