Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This book is the second of Ishiguro that I read (first was When We Were Orphans). The style is a bit different. Easier to digest I’d say, a page turner. The author is good at giving hints to something in the past or the future, and makes me wanting more throughout the entire book.

I can’t say more without spilling spoilers. So I’m just gonna blurt it out.


I think by now almost everyone that has heard about this book knows that it is about clones (As far as I recall though, the word “clone” is only mentioned twice in the entire book). I thought most of the aspects were covered pretty well, but I can’t help wondering why the idea of parents were not discussed at all. It should be a pretty sad moment to know that everybody else out there has parents and you don’t. But I guess they’ve always known that they’re “purposefully created”, and when everybody around you has the same fate as you, you would just accept things as they are. Like a frog never really wishes to fly.

I found relationship between Ruth and Tommy is a bit hard to believe. I mean they’re really two different persons, and I can’t imagine them being together in the first place. Though if you think more about it, they’re both a bit annoying. Ruth is awfully pretentious and attention seeker. Tommy childish, weak, indecisive (he waited until Ruth allowed Kath and him to be together to do something about it? Anyway he never did much about anything.)

I’m also wondering what’s the significance of alphabets for their last name. I thought A would be the first clone for that person, B second, and so on. But they never mentioned anything about it and my theory doesn’t make much sense too, because if it’s true then if Kath’s last name is H, that means she’s the 8th clone, which means the real person where they take the gene from has probably been dead a long time ago if they wait for each clone to ‘complete’ to make the same clone. But Kath tried to find her ‘possible’ and she thought she was alive. If they make a few of the same clones at the same time, wouldn’t she wonder where the other clones are, and not just her ‘possible’? So anyway, their ‘last name’ confused me.

Many things are just eerie. The way they say ‘complete’ to mark their discontinuation to live. The way Madame and Miss Emily so matter-of-factly and cold-heartedly explain everything to them and dismiss them just like that. Not to mention the whole donor thingy.

After I finished the book, when I looked back, I thought the characters are almost void of emotions in just a very eerie way. There’s no big emotion to whatever new things that they discovered no matter how shocking it was. And rightly so. After all, they’re clones, which were doubted that they even had souls.

Rating: 4 out of 5 [Very good]
Flowing reading, satisfying climax, a unique topic that is brought very nicely. Few loose ends.

First line

My name is Kathy H.

Last line

I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be.

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6 thoughts on “Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro”

  1. This is the only novel by Ishiguro that I read. What irked me was you couldn’t tell it was written by a Japanese. Though, I like the idea behind “Never let me go”. How it was a song played when Kathy danced with a imaginary baby in arms…

  2. Apart from his name and his country of birth, he’s nothing Japanese. He grew up in England since 5, a British citizen, and writes in English (In ‘Orphan’ his style is very British). So I don’t consider Ishiguro as Japanese, nor his books as Japanese literature.

    More in wiki

  3. Precisely. You should be at Kinokunyi when it used to trumpet him as a Japanese writer…no way I consider him a Japanese writer. In other words, I read the novel thinking he was one, and felt cheated:P

  4. Aah, a Japanese lit fan you are ;). He did write a couple of books with topics surrounding Japan though: A Pale View of Hills and Artist of the Floating World. You might want to check those books (I will at some points. I’ve decided that I quite like his books).

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