Never Let Me Go is about life, death, love, acceptance of one’s circumstances, and all of those emotional aspects of the world around us. There are a million different ways to tell a story about these things, right?
The problem I had with Never Let Me Go, is that Ishiguro uses a sci-fi premise to tell his story. In fact, it’s a great premise. But, and here’s the downfall, this is NOT a sci-fi book. If it were, Ishiguro would do more explaining of the mechanics of his premise – how things came to be, how they work, and what exactly happens. But he’s not really concerned with that. And that’s where I’m left frustrated.
Never Let Me Go is the story of three individuals who grew up together at Hailsham, a boarding school they attended in England. All the students at Hailsham are special, set apart from society for a specific purpose, which is slowly revealed throughout the book. Kathy, our narrator, takes us through her life at Hailsham and beyond.
The tone of the book is introspective, like we’re inside Kathy’s thoughts. She remembers events in the past and wonders how they have affected her present. As Kathy examines her past, we relive events in her life. We learn snippets of what makes her “special” as she does. But, and here’s where I’m different from Kathy, I question things she doesn’t. Kathy has accepted her lot, I haven’t. But this is HER story, not mine. For her, life is as it is. She doesn’t question her circumstances but tries to understand the relationships around her. Just like anyone would. And I guess that’s the point. Even if you are “special,” like Kathy, you still have to deal with love and longing just like the rest of us.
And I understood this as I read, but I couldn’t help wondering more about each nugget Ishiguro would provide. “The students just learned they were meant to do WHAT?” “But why don’t they ask more about THAT?” I’d think. Kathy would move forward in her story but I was still struggling what had just transpired, not ready yet to just forget about that and move on. But perhaps by creating this conflict, Ishiguro better makes his point. That regardless of your circumstances, some things in life are inevitable. The question is, how do you deal with them, and do you accept them willingly or not?