Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: About the Book

Never Let Me Go written by Kazuo Ishiguro
243 pages
Stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightly, Andrew Garfield

Directed by Mark Romanek
Released 2010


About the Book
I tend to stay away from sci-fi but for me, this reads more like a contemporary novel about relationships. Which makes sense when you consider "dystopian" fiction is about relationships and power AND when you consider Ishiguro wrote The Remains of the Day. Except of course for the creepy facts of the character's lives, which he doles out little by little. The three main characters Cathy (it's written from her point of view), Ruth, and Tommy, live in a British boarding school for 'special' children who are being raised to donate their organs. Since this isn't a new book - it was published in 2005, and because it's such a unique premise, it was made into a film back in 2010. But I didn't read it and didn't see the film so it's all new to me. I'm not finished yet but I know that Carey Mulligan is Cathy, the nice one; Keira Knightly is Ruth, the rather manipulative and popular one; Andrew Garfield is Tommy, Cathy's 'friend' and Ruth's boyfriend. Yes it's a love triangle which takes place in a very unusual setting and in very unique circumstances. Right now I am loving Cathy - even if she is a bit naive - and hating Ruth. Tommy is just clueless. I love the way Ishiguro  - through Cathy's grown up eyes (she's 31 when she recites the tale) - lets the story unfold quietly. He's so good at understated revelations, enough so that even knowing things aren't quite what they seem, as well as describing the setting perfectly, one almost wishes one went to Hailsham too. Well almost! Can't wait to finish it and see where things end up.  In fact, I think I'll go do that now!

Since this is not my usual choice of reading matter it really took me on a journey I don't get to go on much. And I loved it. Having finished it I see my feelings about Ruth were understandable. She is the manipulator and Tommy still reads as quite clueless; as if he is always just waiting for someone else to take action. The romantic in me really hoped for a different ending but there were to be no surprises. The end of the book, like the ends of the character's lives were predicted, planned, written, and set into motion from the start. My niece said she didn't like the book; "Why didn't they just run? Most people would have."
My response was, that's all they knew. They were programmed in a way to lead these lives, like we are programmed to go to school, get a job, marry, have children, a home, die. It's all very pre-ordained if you think about it and very few of us have the courage to run, and change the basic wiring. Interesting stuff, it really has me thinking about expectations.

2 comments:

  1. I'm not a Sci-fi fan either, but this is something else. I'd call it internal drama, poignant, and relevant for us today, not some time in the distant future. And the film... just confirm my partiality for Carey Mulligan. I'd spotted her early on when she was a minor character in BBC's Dicken's Bleak House adaptation. If you're interested, here's an old post I wrote on Never Let Me Go book & film. Nice to be able to share this with someone.

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  2. Yes, I'm a fan of Carey Mulligan too. Thanks for sharing your well thought out post; I agree she was spectacular in the film. She blew me away in An Education; I need to see Shame!

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