Time Magazine called this the best english-language novel of the decade. Now I haven’t read all the novels of the decade but I’m pretty sure Never Let Me Go deserves to be up there.
Kathy H, the main character, starts the story by telling us about her childhood in “Hailsham”, a seemingly idyllic boarding school in the English countryside. She tells us about Ruth and Tommy, her best friends and how they grew up together. In the beginning, everything appears normal and the characters seem to be having lovely childhoods, with vivid details, giggles, temper tantrum, school pranks, love triangles and gossip about their “guardians”.
But the kids at Hailsham, it turns out, are not normal kids. They are special kids who were brought into this world for one purpose and one purpose only: To grow up and donate their vital organs, one by one until they “complete” (die). The story follows with how they grow up, graduate and become donors and carers (people who nurse donors until they eventually become donors themselves)
They all accept their roles in life and never challenge it. The matter-of-factness with which Kathy tells us about donations and completions can drive you crazy. But the genius of Ishiguro is in portraying the human relationships between the three characters, in how they raise in your mind questions of friendship, growing up, life of death and what it means to be human. All and all a fabulous and engrossing read.
This book has just been turned into a movie, and the trailer is very promising. But do yourself a favor and read the book before you watch the movie. I promise you, you won’t regret it..