Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Never Let Me Go is a story about love, friendship and childhood sheltering. It’s about the horrific extremes that humanity is capable of pushing itself to and the lack of recognition that comes with it. The whole way through the story you wonder exactly who is responsible for all of this. Whose idea was it to create clones and have them donate their most vital organs until they die? Whose idea was it to completely disregard all those lives in such a nonchalant manner? There is the debate here, as to whether the clones in this story are worthy of any sympathy at all. In my opinion, there is really little reason why they shouldn’t be. Perhaps they aren’t human (although it is all too easy to forget this throughout the novel), but they have human emotions and they look like humans and they do human things. Which is the main reason why I found this story so sad.

I’ve read quite a few bad reviews of this book since I read it, but I can’t actually understand what there is to dislike. Obviously, my opinion is just as biased as anybody’s whose expresses distaste for Ishiguro’s novel, because I loved it. And I have multiple reasons why.

I’ll start with Kathy. Kathy’s narration just kept me hooked throughout. It’s not that there is anything overtly special about it. I simply liked the way that she told her story because Ishiguro has her narrate in that way that makes you feel like you are actually sitting down with her whilst she tells you the story. In a story like this one, I think that narration like this is particularly important. It was easy to connect with Kathy because I felt like she was talking directly to me and that way I was able to experience her story as if I knew her.

One of the main topics in this book is that of memories, which is convenient, because Kathy has a remarkable detail to remember all the intricacies of her past. This becomes more important as you continue reading the story, because it’s all the little and seemingly insignificant things that she perceives on her childhood journey that come together as the puzzle pieces that form the explanation behind everything.

The three main characters are portrayed in a very realistic light. Sometimes you read a novel and you find that you don’t really believe in the characters, which I hate. But I did believe in Ishiguro’s characters, particularly Kathy and Tommy, whose love story is one that will go down in my personal history of favourites.

The best way to describe this book is beautifully sad. There’s no denying that you will read passages that bring a tear to your eye or make you stop and take a deep breath to compose your own rush of emotions. In a world as secretly ruthless as the one Ishiguro creates, sadness is an emotion that you can’t really escape. And escape is, although subtle, also a theme in the story. Or lack of it really, seeing as the poor character’s journeys are all pre-determined by a terrible fate.

However, despite the fact that it falls within the dystopian genre, whilst reading it, there are times when it becomes very easy to forget this. The whole first section is where Kathy reveals the intricate details of her wonderful childhood. Big school, well looked after, open space to run around in, art classes… It all just sounds like privileged children enjoying their childhood at a very privileged school. But that’s part of the point. One of the main things to realise about the future world that Ishiguro creates, is that it is full of illusion and deception. And the characters within the story are not the only ones who are susceptible to falling for it.

As I got in to the second part of the novel, I started to question everything a lot more. Once Ishiguro introduces us to The Cottages (what we can almost see as the “outside world” for now), I began to realise that the beautiful childhood I was introduced to earlier, was probably not as beautiful as it seemed. These children have been tricked in to feeling protected, but really they have just been left in the dark about things that can only go on to hinder their growth.

The final part of the novel was completely heartbreaking for me and you will understand exactly why when you read it. The worst thing about a love story is not when it comes to an end, but instead, it’s when it doesn’t even really get to begin. In my opinion, Kathy and Tommy’s love story was in stall mode from the very beginning and I don’t think that it ever really got to kick off. Which is devastating considering what happens in the end.

My verdict on this novel is that it won’t be for everyone, but it’s worth reading. You never know, you might end up loving it as much as I did.


I’ve given this a 4 tick rating because I think that Ishiguro does a brilliant job of capturing and maintaining a voice tinged with sadness throughout. Although it’s a sad story, Kathy’s narration is not one to revel in self-pity, which would be all too easy to do in her situation. I loved reading about her memories at Hailsham, which were described in incredible detail and the final chapters were written with poignancy. Her narration is accepting throughout, which really comes to characterise her in the novel. Everything seemed very well considered and the close connection that Ishiguro allows us to develop with Kathy has to be commended.

Reviewed by: Tanya Marie

View all my reviews

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