Monday, May 28, 2012
Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Kathy reflects on growing up in Hailsham alongside her friends Ruth and Tommy.
NEVER LET ME GO is like a—for lack of a better way to put it—grown-up version of a YA novel. The elements of a YA are all there: the occasionally angsty musings of an adolescent girl; the complex and manipulative best friend; a boarding school with a dystopian feel (two in one!). As Kathy narrates the story, the writing is fitting for the voice of a woman—not overly smart but not dumb either—reflecting on her adolescent years.
But it is the way that NEVER LETS ME GO treats its premise that marks it as not YA. If this were a YA novel (which it very well easily could’ve been, had Kazuo Ishiguro chosen to go that route), there would most likely have been a dramatic ending in which good triumphs over the Ambiguously Bad and they all live happily ever after. I kind of like that this book didn’t do that. Instead, it follows the gradual but inevitable path of characters whose destinies were laid out for them since before they were born.
Ishiguro uses a strategy that I will call “suspenseful foreshadowing” quite liberally, stringing anecdotes along one after another so that you will feel like you can barely stop for breath, something is always about to happen, about to happen. Not a bad strategy, and I like that it seems to reflect more on Kathy’s writing abilities than Ishiguro’s (and it’s a talented writer who can do that).
NEVER LET ME GO is a subtly brilliant and disturbing novel that would be greatly appreciated by readers who like their books a little more thought-provoking, a little less rose-colored or deus ex machina-ridden.
Vintage / March 14, 2006 / Paperback (reprint) / 288pp. / $15.00