Literary Fiction Science Fiction

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

9 March 2020
Never Let Me Go Book Cover Never Let Me Go
Kazuo Ishiguro

A reunion with two childhood friends draws Kathy and her companions on a nostalgic odyssey into their lives at Hailsham, an isolated private school in the English countryside, and a confrontation with the truth about their childhoods.


A highly acclaimed best-selling novel that has now been made into a film, so I expected a lot from it. The concept from Kazuo Ishiguro is interesting with a slight twist from other science fiction books in this space. The focus is on Kathy and primarily her relationships with Tommy and Ruth, her childhood friends. They all attended Hailsham Boarding School, with no reference to their parents or any family connections. Life was peaceful and gentle, however, not everything seems normal. To Kathy and her friends, their knowledge and experience of the real world were biased, until they came of age and journeyed into the wider world.

The premise of the story is that each child has been cloned and brought up as an organ donor or donor carer. Kathy in her early 30s reflects back on her childhood and early adulthood trying to make sense of life and where she belongs. The old headmistress may have some answers. She can never let go of her destiny and the world she was born into at Hailsham.

I spent most of the book waiting for the action to kick-off, for the graduates from Hailsham to forcefully want answers, to hold to account their guardians and to demand an individual’s rights over their own bodies. It all seemed incredibly sedate and accepting and I thought there may have been more investigation and refusal to accept the lives they had mapped out. The characters were largely disappointing with no energy or depth.

The concept and plot offered so much potential and even if that was more towards a love story but it all felt inconsequential. I was disappointed in this book and would struggle to recommend it.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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