Read this on my phone.
This book is quite remarkable. For more than half of it it gives off very few clues on what it’s all about, what these weird kids were doing cordoned off in a special school somewhere in a remote corner of an apparently alt-universe England. You go through their lives through Kathy’s -the protagonist’s- memories, which are incomplete, the possibility always hanging that her memory’s playing tricks on her. She says so herself. And if we don’t grow fond of the characters per se, it’s because there’s something terrible about them being left unsaid, politely ignored. It is something that makes people surrounding them, their “guardians” in that odd sub-space Hogwarts, cry when these children inadvertently show emotion and, say, sing and dance to Judy Bridgewater’s Never Let Me Go I’ve added above – a song that doesn’t strictly exist in our timeline, mind you. I’ll let you unfurl its story on your own.
The whole style of the book was reminiscent of Murakami. Is it a Japanese thing or is my mind playing tricks on me pigeonholing Ishiguro precisely on the basis that both authors are Japanese? But wait a second: more-or-less short and simple sentences, matter-of-fact, every-day situations, relationship- and memory-focused narrative… maybe it’s not just me.
Anyway. Once the secret of the book is revealed, just as matter-of-factly as anything else the characters might be talking about, the genius of Never Let Me Go is truly made clear; I can’t recall ever reading a story with less hand-holding on its central premise, such slow exposition and thus such complete suspension of disbelief. So I’m left here thinking that Its story is precisely what would happen if what’s true in the book was true in real life. And as a wanna-be writer of a similar kind of fiction, I can think of no praise more sincere.