Never Let Me Go was written by Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day, which I’ve mentioned before. I had been looking forward to reading Never Let Me Go for some time; the film adaptation was released in NZ this year, and my initial attempts to borrow my friend Libby’s copy had been thwarted by the few people that were ahead of me in line to read it. It was with some anticipation, especially after enjoying The Remains of the Day, that I delved into it.
I loved it. The book comes across as very emotionally reserved, as if you are expected to be able to read the thoughts of the characters as they deal with their lives and what is to come. For me, this wasn’t a bad thing. Just because it’s a novel doesn’t mean that the reader has to be granted omniscient access into the characters’ thoughts and feelings. The lives of Kathy H, Tommy D and Ruth are inextricably and tragically intertwined. Ishiguro doesn’t deal with the huge ethical issues that are raised in this novel, which was a wise move in my opinion. I certainly was challenged by the ethical side to the story – I think Ishiguro presents an unnervingly accurate take on the moral pulse of modern society.
If you like to read, then read this book.
If anything, I was afraid that the film would ruin the book for me. Such fears were misplaced as the film did a good job of filling in the mental pictures of the world of Never Let Me Go that I had developed whilst reading it. Viewers that haven’t read the book may struggle to fully understand or appreciate the plot as it develops; the small, intimate moments that Ishiguro crafts in the novel are unfortunately lost in transition to the screen. What of the cast’s performances? Carey Mulligan did, in my opinion, a fantastic job of playing the tragic protagonist Kathy H. I wasn’t impressed with Keira Knightley as Ruth but I put that down to the restrictions that come from losing so much character development that occurs in the book. Andrew Garfield, soon to be seen as the new Spiderman, did a passable job as Tommy D. I think that I would watch Never Let Me Go again, but I’d give it a few years.
One of the best books that I’ve read in a long time and a decent film adaptation to accompany it.