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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Never Let Me Go

This novel by Kazuo Ishiguro is told by Kathy, a 31 year old woman who was raised at Hailsham, a private school in the English countryside where creativity is fostered. The students are a tightly knit group who seem to have limited contact with the outside world. The story focuses on Kathy, Ruth, who is very controlling and Tommy, a sweet lad with a violent temper. We follow their progress as students at Hailsham through to young adulthood. On the surface they face typical adolescent challenges but there is something a little "off" about their behaviour. The reader questions why the children are kept isolated, why they don't bristle at their captivity, who is the mysterious Madame and why does she take the best student artwork away with her and most of all why are they so accepting of this dystopian society. The story unravels at a snail's pace with a vague sense of horror lurking behind Kathy's matter-of-fact narrative style. The eventual explanation of who these children are and their purpose in life is not unexpected as the reader is provided with many clues along the way. It raises more questions than it answers about scientific ethics, political will, mortality and who is human. I found myself hoping even as the pages dwindled that Kathy, Ruth and Tommy would toss aside their resignation to the horrific inevitable and rage against it.

Although Never Let Me Go was on the Booker shortlist in 2005 I had never heard of it and only chose to read it because it was on the return trolley at the library. It left me feeling sad, a bit hopeless and questioning what is meant by "the greater good" but I'm glad I read it.

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