Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
For those of you unfamiliar with me, allow for me to give you a quick introduction: my name is Lynsay, I'm 21 and have a blog aimed at inspiring women everywhere to inject their love for fashion into the working week ( http://theworkwearedit.blogspot.com, for those curious enough to look). My reading tastes tend to fall as far away as possible from romance and chick lits (although I have been known to dabble every once in a while) and so the particular book that I am reviewing may come as a shock to those who already have an understanding of its plot line.
Propelled into the public eye by the 2010 film adaptation starring the remarkable talents of Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield, it was in fact the cinematic version of Never Let Me Go that first introduced me to the novel and drove me on to read the original text. Although a wonderfully heartbreaking film, silver screen embodiments tend to never have much on the written works that came before them and this was not an exception.
What starts as the childhood recollections of our protagonist, Kathy, soon turns into a fully fledged dystopian version of the England that I myself have been raised within. As we journey through the difficult teenage years into fully fledged adulthood, we experience Kathy's relationships alongside her, namely the power play that comprises her friendship with bestie Ruth and the admiration from afar of lifelong crush Tommy.
However, underneath these normalcies which, on their own, would amount only to an average storyline, is a very soft science fiction theme that pulls the reader directly into the ethical debates surrounding cloning and what constitutes a human life. Despite at first being seemingly raised within a pleasant, albeit protective, boarding school environment, it is quickly revealed to the reader that Kathy and her friends were purely created at the hand of man to become living organ donors. This dramatic twist is what shapes the novel into becoming a masterpiece, as author Ishiguro's subtle and graceful prose forces us to challenge our views about our own inherent mortality.
If you seek out books with happily-ever-after endings, then perhaps Never Let Me Go is not the one for you. In Kathy's life, and indeed Tommy and Ruth's, happy endings cannot exist. Instead, the reader is led on the journey of the "other" in this particular book's universe, celebrating joy and experiencing pain in the same way they do: with the constant acknowledgement that nothing is permanent. Instead of a short smile before carrying on with the rest of their life, after reading the final page of this particular book it is impossible for the reader to not continue to think about what they have just finished. Utterly affecting and, at times, moving to tears, the fact at the characters do not ride off into the sunset together does not stop Never Let Me Go from being a necessity to read in order to recognise that life is both bleak and beautiful at the same time, and always destined to end the same way.