Never Let Me Go
Vintage, 2006 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
ever Let Me Go
is literary speculative fiction, set in a late 1990s England that is different from the real one in certain key societal directions. The novel was shortlisted for the
Man Booker Prize
in 2005. We learn quickly that the narrator, Kathy H. is approaching the end of her time as a
. Donors of what we wonder, and the horror of that question pulls the reader through the rest of the story.
athy reflects on her childhood, looked after by
(most of them uncomfortable with those in their care) at Hailsham, a boarding school in the English countryside. The children's artistic talents are strongly encouraged, the best of their work being selected for Madame's mysterious
. Kath's best friend is Ruth, and over time she becomes close to Tommy, who was picked on for many years by the others for a lack of creative ability and easily provoked temper tantrums. What strikes the reader immediately is how careful these kids are to preserve each other's small fantasies, how much they and those who take care of them circle the truth, and how large small things loom in their closed society.
he story's title is also that of a song on a music tape that small Kath clung to, and whose disappearance (after Madame saw her swaying in time to the song, holding an imaginary baby) upset her greatly. And it represents how these children grew up - '
fearful of the world around us, and ... unable quite to let each other go.
' Kath leads us through her growing years and shifting relationships with Ruth and Tommy in an account that, while innocent on the surface, has sinister undercurrents. It's a long, leisurely story development that continually tantalizes the reader, hinting at a society based on systematic cloning and the harvesting of organs. Kath's life is one of loss - lost childhood, lost romance, lost loved ones, and she is forced to
he story is thought provoking and well written, in particular the details of interpersonal interactions at different ages. It is also very fatalistic, which annoyed me more and more as it developed. There was no sign of rebellion, and equally few indications of serious coercion. Read and enjoy
Never Let Me Go
for its basic premise and excellent character development. But, if you're at all like me, you'll feel like shaking all these lost children as they flock like lambs to horrific fates.
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