Book Review: “Never Let Me Go,” by Kazuo Ishiguro


Photo via Google Images under Creative Commons License.

In his novel, “Never Let Me Go,” Kazuo Ishiguro offers an alternative historical timeline where the breakthrough of medical science has already occurred.

Science fiction novels sometimes miss the mark with capturing the attention of the general public due to their high-tech themes and scientific terminology, which can  make it a somewhat intimidating genre.

Ishiguro successfully breaks this genre barrier by making “the other” portray human emotions and actions.

The main character, Kathy H., spends her days looking back instead of forward. The time spent with her teenage friends Tommy and Ruth at the English boarding school-like Hailsham seem a distant memory, bittersweet and poignant.

All the students at Hailsham have been told, and not told, who they are and what their overall purpose is.

They are clones who exist only to provide organ donations when necessary. They, along with all the other clones, known as “students,” live at Hailsham, an institution where they focus on their health and are encouraged to create art.

All students first become Carers, who take care of those in the process of giving donations before they become Donors themselves. By the end of the novel, they discover that the purpose of their art is to prove whether or not they have souls, thus justifying their humanity and right to humane treatment.

After their Hailsham days, the trio lives at The Cottages until they receive their notice to begin their Carer training. It is rumored that students at Hailsham are special in that they might be able to receive a deferral if a couple can prove they are truly in love. If accepted, they would be granted a few years together before starting their Carer training.

Kathy, now a Carer, travels the English countryside from recovery center to recovery center before she is unexpectedly reacquainted with her childhood friends. Once the three reunite, old memories emerge, bringing smiles and sentimental reminiscing. However, not all memories are pleasant and soon an old feud with Tommy at the core arises and creates tension between Ruth and Kathy.

In the end though, the three realize what truly matters most, and learn the solemn truth that dictates their lives.

By presenting the ethical issue of cloning in narrative fiction, the novel allows the topic to become more relatable to an audience that might not be familiar with the scientific and medical jargon surrounding cloning. “Never Let Me Go” is a clone narrative that forces readers to confront the ethical and moral implications of human cloning, what it truly means to be human, and tests the power of true love as never before.