Book Review: Never Let Me Go

‘All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma…’

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Just when I thought that forced reading had ended with my English Literature degree, I unfathomably signed up for Subject Knowledge Enhancement course which has thrown me right back into the pit, clambering over copies of The Heart of Darkness and Jane Eyre to reach a point where I can read for pleasure again. To be fair, the novels available to me this time round are much more desirable than most of the stuff I did for my degree so it isn’t the great chore that it could have been. Which brings me nicely onto Never Let Me Go…

Kathy, Ruth and Tommy have an unremarkable upbringing in the ’90s rural England. They attend Halisham – a boarding school with an emphasis on the arts – and get into the usual adolescent scrapes that come to all of us. The difference being that these adolescents are clones that are being harvested for their organs and which will eventually lead to their death before the age of 40. I mean, this reveal is quite a large diversion from my own main childhood worry that I couldn’t ride a bike and also that I once pissed myself in front of two giggling teenage girls in a video shop when I was six. We all have our own cross to bare, I suppose.

I had encountered Never Let Me Go before through Mark Romanek’s underrated film adaptation in 2010 but even the guttural ache that accompanies that film fails to capture the innate sadness of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel. That isn’t to say that Never Let Me Go is a grim read generally – it isn’t. In fact, it mostly uplifting, funny and heartwarming. The whole story takes place under a veil of impending doom however, and the weight of fate hangs heavy over our characters until it becomes almost unbearable towards the end of the novel.

Never Let Me Go is the kind of book that you will read in a week and then you miss it when it is gone. Honestly, one of the more affecting and memorable books I have encountered in the last few years.

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