Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber). This was quite a provocative and haunting story to get my head around. It is the kind of book that you finish and then immediately badger all of your close friends and family to read so that you can talk to them about it because you can’t possibly keep all of your thoughts to yourself. It raises some interesting questions about human nature and morality in a contorted world where science has progressed further than in reality. Kazuo Ishiguro imagines a dystopian setting in England, almost identical to the England that we know, but with some very important differences that change the lives of the characters in the book – for good and bad, depending on who they are.
The narrative is led by Kathy, a former student of Hailsham School, and explores the lives of herself and her two closest friends, Ruth and Tommy. From the very beginning the school has a special glow around it (not literally), isolated in the countryside, and the students are taken exceptional care of. All things considered, they seem to have a pretty great childhood, until a heartbreaking truth is revealed to them during one of their lessons and they are forced to confront the reality of their existence. The story is incredibly well crafted, and you find yourself falling in love with these characters and their struggle to manage the larger issues facing them, as well as the emotional troubles of adolescence. The story follows them into their adult lives, but I won’t give anything away – you’ll just have to read it.
Admittedly I did read the book after I saw the film, and if you’ve seen the film it sort of gives away the bigger twists and turns of the plot. It’s still definitely worth a read though, as it fills in a lot of the blanks and sort of pads out your understanding of the world and the lives of the central characters. I think the film is a fairly accurate portrayal, though I did have this song stuck in my head for pretty much the entire time it took me to read the book: Never Let Me Go, by Judy Bridgewater.