Never Let Me Go By Kazuo Ishiguro (3 out of 5)

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It’s funny, my coworker and friend Dan and I were having a hell of a time figuring out a science fiction/dystopian novel he read years ago, at the Bible Mart we used to both work for, just days ago. Then I picked up this book, which I’ve had for a long while. I’ve heard whispers of Ishiguro being in the same field as Murakami. The only Murakami I have read was Norwegian Wood, for the Beatles title, if nothing else. I enjoyed it, but he lost me frequently. Ishiguro, I have read two previous titles- When We Were Orphans, which I enjoyed a lot, and Remains of the Day, which I moderately enjoyed. So the comparison really means jack shit in the light of the day, and the writing of the review. I felt I had to address it, for so many customers have said that to me over the years. I’m not sure if it’s because both are renowned Japanese authors who have won many awards through the years, or if because both names are difficult to pronounce, or because both are usually residing on the bestseller lists at the same time, but I don’t see it. Murakami is a deep thinking dude, and his language usage is protracted at parts; Ishiguro is more surface level emotions, and his language is very straight to the point, but beautifully worded. Murakami requires a bottle of wine and a quiet botanical garden for me to comprehend; Ishiguro a single glass and a comfortable couch. Guess which I dig more.

Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy are students at Hailsham, a boarding school in the pastoral English countryside. Growing up, they share friendship and the knowledge that they are no ordinary children. They share a very special gift.  There are no ordinary friendships formed here, and the rules are equally unique to the clique they apply to.  Years go by, and Kathy again finds Ruth and Tommy back in her life. It’s not that easy of a puzzle to solve for the reader, as there are parts of truth and parts of fantasy that make their way through parts of the plot. When you do have things revealed to you, it’s at odd moments, and often you find youself asking “Did that just fucking happen?”. Yes, it’s Ishiguro, it did. Keep this refrain in mind throughout parts of the book.  Our main narrator, Kathy, has such an indifferent tone to everything told in the book that you often question whether things that are going down are really of consequence, or just plot devices that are aiding her in telling the story. Ruth and Tommy are equally circumspect. That part really bothered me. If some of this ultimately revealed shit got that wacky, I would be questioning it all over the damn place. Not these three. Halfway through the book, I wondered if they were robots, or had been brainwashed by Dianetics. There has to be some emotion here. In his other books, Ishiguro has no problem with the characters using their emotional weights and pulleys; here, no such luck. That took a lot of the give-a-shit factor away from the book for me. If you really aren’t buying what those three are selling, how are you buying into the novel?

What did I like? It’s not a large book, yet there’s so much stuff; genetic questions, moral mishaps, and questions of the relevance of souls in the this world and beyond stuffed into it, the book was packed to the gills with enough material to make you lie awake many nights, asking many questions, if you cared to do just that. Of course, most of us can’t do that, but it still makes for a satisfying conclusion to the book.  I’ve seen it referred to as deceptive simplicity, but believe me, there’s nothing simple about this book. It’s an incredibly well thought out and played out. At the end, I was completely caught off balance. I love that factor; as it doesn’t happen much nowadays.  There’s a definite science fiction tint to this novel; Goodreads has it classified as dystopian. I didn’t see that aspect much here. What I did see was that I really did enjoy this book. I didn’t enjoy it enough to call it brilliant, but I did enjoy it enjoy to recommend it to anyone who wants a book that has a plot that keeps on giving. Because it is a book that does that.

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~ by generationgbooks on August 28, 2013.

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