Monday, April 10, 2006

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I haven’t read Ishiguro in quite a while (I read his first couple of novels), and while I had heard that his latest was about clones, I somehow didn’t expect to find a novel so reminiscent of Atwood’s speculative (let’s come out and say it: science fiction) work. Straight-forward in style, and narrated by Kathy H., a young woman with a penchant for picking apart past interactions and thoughts, it tracks the lives of three young people who meet in the swank English boarding school, Hailsham, in which they are raised. Kathy and her friends Ruth and Tommy are told that they are special by the “guardians” that look after the Hailsham students. They are told in insidious and subtle ways that they will become “donors” or “carers” someday, that they cannot have children, and that their greatest artworks will be taken away from them to a mysterious “Gallery.” (The art piece reminded me of Lois Duncan’s teen novel Down a Dark Hall, a spooky little book that I read over and over again in junior high.) While Kathy tells the story of her complicated friendship with Ruth and Tommy, and tries to piece together an understanding of who and what they are and will become, Ishiguro weaves a sense of growing foreboding and injustice. I don’t want to say too much about this book (although most probably already know what it is about), but I found this a well-told speculative work on what could be the near-future.

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