Never Let Me Go: A Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (New York: Knopf Publishers, 2005. 304 pp)

Born in 1954 in Nagasaki, Japan, Kazuo Ishiguro moved with his family to England in 1960. Ishiguro attended the University of Kent receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1978 and continued his education at the University of East Anglia obtaining a master’s degree in creative writing in 1980. A celebrated novelist, Ishiguro has been nominated four times for the Man Booker Prize, winning it in 1989 for his work, The Remains of the Day. Recently, Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go, was adapted to a full-length film featuring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield. Ishiguro resides in London with his wife and daughter.

The Same, But Different


Never Let Me Go depicts the coming-of-age story of Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy told through the lens of Kathy, the protagonist. These characters resemble typical youth with yearly schooling, hooking up, and learning to drive.  The reader quickly learns, however, that Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy are anything but normal; they are clones.
After an education, these clones become carers, an occupation devoted to clones recovering from donations and, one day, they will all start donating themselves.
With evidence clearly suggesting that the lives of these clones end with the donation of vital organs, the implied undertones of Never Let Me Go are rather dark and sinister. When Ishiguro illustrates normal activities such as school life for these clones, their manufactured origins make typical human activities somewhat odd.

What Are Teenagers Doing these Days?

Ultimately, Never Let Me Go discusses the love triangle of Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth as the trio grows up and transitions into the darker phases of clone life.
Set against this dark sense of foreboding is a bunch of horny teenagers. While the promiscuity of the characters adds to the fleeting sense of temporariness, it ultimately worked against the plot in my mind. Too often, Ishiguro seems more interested in describing who is hooking up than he is interested in diving deeper into the psyche of a clone who knows the end of the story.
With a narrative somewhat reminiscent of the feature-film, The Island, without the high-tech special effects, Never Let Me Go offers a subtle story that seems slightly off from reality and yet the truth behind it is horrifying. It is a decent book and I enjoyed reading it. Yet, I leave it somewhat disappointed.

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  • SmallWorld at Home

    I really enjoyed this one and got another Ishiguro book at the library today. I've heard the movie for Never Let Me Go is fantastic.

  • Donovan Richards

    Thanks for the comment!

    I just watched the movie last night and it's actually quite good. Of course with time constraints, the narrative is slightly off but I might argue that I enjoyed the movie better than the book.

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