Saturday, June 26, 2010
Cannonball Read #27: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
I chose to pick up Never Let Me Go because Pajiba recently featured the trailer of the movie that is based on the Kazuo Ishiguro book, and all the comments were about how the book was completely heart-breaking at the end. Well, that intrigued me, and I guess I was in the mood to get my heart broken in a literary way.
Never Let Me Go is narrated by Kathy H., a young woman who begins by looking back at her childhood in Hailsham, a boarding school in England. The first part of the book talks about her relationships with her schoolmates, particularly between her mercurial (I really actually thought she was just manipulative) best friend, Ruth, and Tommy. There are many indications early on that Kathy's world might not be the same world that we live in because she tells us, in oblique ways, how the students in Hailsham are unique and special, and how their lives are basically mapped out from them since the beginning.
The Hailsham's students' purpose in life is not exactly a big mystery, though I hesitate to reveal it here because it might take the fun out of figuring it out. What was most interesting, to me, was how Kathy's narration made everything seem so matter-of-fact – so nonchalant – that the reality they live in really do not seem all that unlikely.
My favorite parts of the book were concerning the little fights that Kathy and Ruth had. It reminded me so much of my time in an all-girl school - times that I thought I had successfully blocked out but all came back to me while reading. It was just really interesting to see these childish, petty feelings be put into words (and even in rational terms!) when I felt like back then, for me, it was just all emotional "Me Me Me" feelings.
The later parts of the book deal with the reunion between the three friends many years after they have moved on from Hailsham, and how the mysteries from their childhoods were answered. Kathy H. maintains her tone of nonchalance throughout the book, which was quite disorienting to me, but I did appreciate it. I believe the ending did not affect me as badly as I anticipated because of the following reasons:
1) Kathy did not seem to be too torn up about it (she just accepted it!), and I was identifying with her for most of the book.
2) I had really high expectations for this "heart-breaking" ending, and because I saw it coming, it did not devastate me as much I thought.
All in all, it was actually a really good book. Though the writing was done in the voice of a young girl (Kathy narrated in a very natural way) I kept on reading because I just wanted to know what happened to the characters in the end. I think I will go back to it in a couple months just to see if my perception of it has changed because it seems like the type of book in which what you get from it can be different each time you reread it.