Never Let Me Go

Monday, February 28, 2011

This week I had the excuse of taking a rather long train journey down to Devon to have a good old splash around in the Kindle Lagoon. My e-book of choice was Never Let Me Go by Japanese-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro. Admittedly my motive behind this choice was Carey Mulligan's new film which I have been dying to see but putting off until I have read the book. And now I have, and what an intense book it was! I had no idea the 2005 released novel was going to have such a dark sci-fi edge, but it was really wonderfully written and raised numerous questions about the ethical implications of organ donors. I think what made this narrative really special to me was that you were welcomed into the golden light of childhood innocence. The light was glorious and nostalgic, but the darker corners were shaded with tones of uncertainty.  Ishiguro's writing technique is simplistic and effective, allowing words to wash gently over you as the darker elements sink in. 

This modern novel focuses on the complex issue of live donor organs - that is people who have been created purely to supply organs to those who need it. The fictional school, Hailsham, aims to bring these cloned children up as cultured and responsible people, who will have a functioning role within society. Revolving around three characters, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy the reader is never made aware of surnames, only initials, brushing over the characters' identities and constructing a picture of Primary school-peg bliss.

As carers the children later leave school to look after the 'students' that have donated before them, until they 'complete' a term used to by both guardians and students to calmly describe the passing of a donor.

However, the tragedy does not focus on the pre-destined lives of the three children who grow-up unaware of their true purpose in life. Instead Ishiguro concentrates on the lost  time that can often cause injury to those who miss opportunities to act upon instincts - human trait that presents itself in the clone world.

Of course there are bound to be sad undertones to this ethically challenging novel, but it is written with such peaceful acceptance that the you as the reader are not left distressed but perhaps a little bit relieved that we have not yet reached the desperate measures of creating human farms. 

I will watch the film this week and of course I shall let you all know what I think...

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