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KatSings’ CBR III Review #20 – Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro


Sad to say, was left cold by this.  Not a bad book, but definitely not a memorable one either.


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genericwhitegirl’s CBR III Book 19: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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?

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Krista’s CRB-III Review #27 – Never Let Me Go, Kauzo Ishiguro

Several blogs I read have reviewed and recommended Never Let Me Goso when I got a nook, I bought it to read. I thought the plot sounded super interesting. Kath recounts her time at Hailsham after she sees her childhood friend Ruth while she (Kath) is working. Together they talk about their school days and visit their friend Tommy. These three are close friends and we find out about their school and life post-school as the novel progresses.

It’s really hard to talk about the plot without giving away certain parts of it. That said, this is a really interesting look at bioethics and the future of medical technology.

I thought this was an excellent book and I would highly recommend it to a variety of people (and I already have!). Plus a little more.

— Krista

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Tits McGee’s CBR III Review # 1- Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go Book Cover

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Like many other canon ball readers, I picked Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro for my inaugural read in January. This decision meant that I found myself on an airplane flying somewhere between Vancouver and Costa Rica curled over wet pages, crying as quietly as I could manage. For me, this novel was powerful without being triumphant or depressing, and I was floored.

Never Let Me Go follows the story of 3 students at Hailsham, a secluded boarding school in England. The school, at first, seems like any other boarding schools. However, Ishiguro deftly reveals the differences between Hailsham and the rest of the world and the reader learns what makes Hailsham special slowly, at the same pace as the students.

As the story progressed, I found myself in awe of the precision and intent of the author. His world mirrors so closely the bittersweet memories of adolescence, and I found it easy to identify some aspect of each of the characters in my own adolescence. Every small betrayal, every whispered secret and stifled giggle, seemed rooted in a very real, very possible world. Even the larger plot around who and what the students are seemed possible. In fact, considering how good we all are at justifying and closing our eyes to injustices that are carefully and quietly occurring to someone else, it seems possible, even probable that schools like this could exist.

One of the things that makes this book so special is that the characters never make a decision that they wouldn’t naturally make. The characters don’t follow the plot, the plot follows the characters and this is something that is becoming too rare in a world where books are written with the intent of being made into a blockbuster. I believed that Ruth would betray Kath and that Kath, unasked, would forgive her, even help her. That Ruth would eventually make things right and that Tommy would make the wrong decisions, then the right one, and then ones that I wasn’t so sure about. I believed that the teachers would try and then fail, but still make things somewhat palatable. I believed that the other character, the outside world, would stiffen at the sight of these children. That it would turn it’s back and shut its eyes.

There is no room for heroics, or easy answers in Ishiguro’s world. While I found myself praying to the literary gods that someone would show up and play this role, it would have done the story a great disservice. Instead the author opted for quiet heroes and small triumphs, and this makes the story all the more powerful. It isn’t about the heroes, it’s about how these children grow up, how they live their lives and how they come to terms with their purpose and even find happiness within the constraints that they are given.

The narrative flow is beautifully constructed. The author shifts back and forth between the past and the present without making the reader feel pulled through time. Ishiguro managed to construct a first person narrative that carries the reader through a typical awkward adolescence through to a tarnished adulthood. Given that the book has been made into a movie and that the premise is hinted at towards the beginning of the novel, the reader likely knows more about the characters’ lives than the characters do, which makes it all the more painful and poignant as the characters start to realize their purpose and how little power they actually have over the path of their own lives.

While Ishiguro plays with some very heavy and sad themes, he never dives into despair, though he could easily have taken this route. He chooses to write about Hailsham rather than the other boarding schools with similar students where the conditions were much worse. He chooses a main character who is resilient and capable instead of one who would weaken and fall apart with the realization of their purpose, or one who would attempt heroics and fail dramatically. Ishiguro has written a novel that in the hands of inferior talent would becoming either depressing or unrealistically triumphant, and by dancing somewhere in between, I believe he has created a classic.

I wish I could find something to criticize, but this novel has earned a permanent spot on my bookshelf, and I suspect that high school English students will be writing book reports on this novel for some time to come.


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Alli’s CBR-III Review #6 – Never Let Me Go


I am very glad to be done reading this one and I am almost finished my next one. I might very well finish my CBR this year!!

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caragwapa’s CBR III Review #2 – The Corrections, and Review # 5 – Never Let Me Go

The Corrections was the second book i finished reading but only finish reviewing last night. Here is the review.

Never Let Me Go has been review many a time here in the Cannonball Read so I didn’t bother summarizing, just gave out a few short opinions. Here is the review.

Ok, still got three books to review.

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Scootsa1000’s CBR-III Review #5 – Never Let Me Go

My thoughts on Never Let Me Go.

Now trying to decide on which book to finish next…I’m in the middle of so many:  The Girl Who Played with Fire.  Horns.  Mr American.  The Gunslinger.  Full Dark, No Stars.


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