Examination: Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
Genre: literary fiction Published: Vintage books 2010, first published March 2005 My rating: 5/5 stars All-time favorite
“What I'm not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we've lived through, or feel we've had enough time.”
Note: this review was written by some idiot who completely spoiled herself for the ending by accidentally watching the movie along with my parents years ago. However, that did not stop this same idiot from recognizing the amazingness of this book.
I would go as far as to say that I enjoyed this book more because I knew the ending. It allowed me to see the meaning behind many of the trivial seeming interactions between the characters. It was like I had a sneak peak of their motivations and could therefore better see the incredible thinking that went into the reason for Ishiguro to make them act this way.
Suffices to say: Ishiguro is an amazing writer from a technical point of view. He manages to describe friendship in an interesting (and for some deep disturbing reason, incredibly relatable) way, like I never read before. I am amazed by the deep insight and “birds eye view” into human interactions this would have taken to write. Some of the moments where Kathy reflects on a pivotal point of her friendship with Ruth and Tommy, and realizes that if only she has said something... if only she had done something... it would have taken their friendship to a new level. But she did not, she could not. Don’t even get me started on the dynamics of secretkeeping within their friendship. It had me torn between really happy to read this in literature and recognizing how true this was, and very sad. Because the fact that I recognized it, made me realize how flawed I am myself. In my opinion, that is one of the best things a book can do; it made me think. Not just about friendships, but about the way we live life.
One of the critiques I hear most is: "why aren't they scared?" or "why don't they run away?".
Because it is the reality of life they know. And to be honest, it is the reality of life we all know... These characters are just like any of us; they "know" what is happening, but they don't really realize it, or want to realize it. We all know how life is going to end: we will eventually die. We cannot run from it, and the only thing we can do is make the best of the time we have beforehand. Thinking about the inevitable will only make you unhappy, and running away is not an option. They are doing the best they can, for others and themselves, in the short time they have. And (maybe depressingly enough), I can truly relate to that.
The last point I want to address is the critique I hear a lot about the ending.
spoiler warning for the ending. Please do yourself a favor and read the book first!
"why are they so passive?" Personally, the ending is one of my favorite parts. All characters are deeply flawed in my opinion, as are all humans, But the ending; them accepting their ending, was an act of true bravery and made me love and respect these characters. Facing the inevitable, despite your fear is sometimes way more powerful and graceful than trying to fight it, knowing you are losing...
That is the true power of this book. Even if you did not enjoy the read itself; please think about the messages it sends. This is what I loved about it. It is why I remembered a movie I had watched fragments of along with my parents, when I was probably 12, and this is what cemented this book as one of my favorites...
Find this book on Goodreads