Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro

Summary from Amazon:
Narrated by Kathy, now 31, Never Let Me Go hauntingly dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School, and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.


Never Let Me Go is one of those books you really shouldn't know anything about when you start reading. Of course, no one should tell you *the* spoiler, but you also shouldn't hear much about the story: when talking to other people about this book, I realised that we had reacted very differently to the various characters and situations and I wonder if knowing someone's opinion of the book might ruin the experience for you, so I will keep this review to a bare minimum!

Kathy narrates the story of when she was a young student at Hailsham in the 1970s England. She explains her life there from her very early years, how the school was functioning and her friendships there, with Tommy and Ruth in particular. From an early point on, you realise there is something peculiar going on at Hailsham, but you can't exactly put your finger on what.

Kathy is kind hearted and becomes friend with bullied Tommy who has some anger issues and is constantly teased by his school mates. Kathy is also friend with Ruth, whom Kathy learns is often lying and manipulating people. Kathy makes it clear to Ruth that she doesn't always fall in her tricks but that she will remain her friend. Kathy and Ruth's relationship and how it evolves is cleverly woven and definitely has an influence on both girls' personalities.

There is something quite detached and haunting about Kathy's way of telling her story. Her voice is very clear and we read her as if she was telling her true life story herself. There are no embellishments or mature reasoning in how she recounts her life and her relationships with both Ruth and Tommy and from how she presents things, you realise things Kathy herself has no idea about yet.
I need to read more books by Kazuo Ishiguro to see exactly how much of the story-telling is his and how much is Kathy's, but I really loved the contrast between it being a dystopian story and how Kathy's voice is so matter-of-factly and at times emotionally detached.
There are some truly heart-breaking moments in the book and they really are fascinatingly told by Kathy's voice. I really loved hearing this story from her.

I don't want to say more for fear of giving away the plot. The book is a dystopian novel set in the past, and I found this aspect incredibly fascinating. The idea was to see how the world would have been had the scientific energy been diverted towards something other than nuclear energy. I found the atmosphere of the story and the context very believable and I thought Ishiguro put himself brilliantly in the head of his characters. I really want to read more of him, especially his novels containing references to his Japanese heritage.

I went to a screening of the film (which is really wonderful with a fantasting casting and acting) with a Q&A session with Kazuo Ishiguro so I will discuss the more spoilery themes then!

I think that anyone interested in Dystopia, novels about science, great writing and fantastic characters would love reading this book.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro | Faber and Faber | Read on my kindle!


  1. I appreciate your review -- I too agree that some books really do need to be read without knowing anything about them. This is probably one of them -- it's been on my TBR for forever -- I ought to bump it up now!

  2. Aargh! I lent my copy out without reading it first. Must get it back.

  3. It's on my TBR, not sure when I 'll get round to reading it though. Good to see your review.

  4. This is one of my favorite books. I'm so jealous that you got to go to a screening of the movie with a Q&A session with Kazuo!

  5. This is one of my all time favourite books too. I cried at the end of it. I love it! I loved the movie too, although not as much as I loved the book! :)

  6. Intriguing review.
    I've just started reading The Remains of the Day.

  7. Brilliant review I am now very curious about it :D