Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: Book Review

Feb 5, 2011 | 2011 Articles, Books & Tales, Every Other Book, Karen Lewis

by Karen Lewis

Never Let Me Go was written by Kazuo Ishiguro, a Japanese-English novelist who is also one of the most well-known fiction authors in the English speaking world. He won the Booker Prize for The Remains of the Day, which was made into a blockbuster movie starring Anthony Hopkins. Never Let Me Go was also made into a British movie.

I found this book to be an interesting story with a sinister sense to it, although at times I did find the story to be a bit drawn out. The story is narrated by a professional caregiver called Kathy who is looking back at the time she spent in a boarding school called Hailsham, then later in what would appear to be a recovery or rehabilitation house called “the cottages”.

Kathy was always considered very good at her job and very observant of the nature of human beings. She is not a real person herself, however, but a human clone whose purpose in life is to nurse and care for other clones like Tommy and Ruth.

Ruth is Kathy’s best friend. Tommy is well-known in the school for his quick temper and athletic ability, although he is picked on by others who make fun of him because of his childish manner. Kathy and Ruth feel the need to take him under their wing to help him fit in and become more accepted on a social level.

The students at Hailsham are taught with a strong emphasis on health. They are clones raised and trained for the main purpose of donating their organs to people with cancer and other incurable diseases.

The teenagers of Hailsham have larger-than-life passions and dreams which are overshadowed by questions such as “What does it really mean to be human?” This book may have you asking the very same questions.

Is it ethical to raise students as clones in such a controlled way that when they start to have passions and dreams of their own they are already predestined to live out the life they are expected to live, or have they become more human as the years pass?

However there is an exception to the rule at Hailsham. The only way to avoid the rule of having your life ended at a certain time for donating your organs to “real” people is to really fall in love.

This book is an intelligent and well-written book, although it does not give the author’s view on human cloning as a legitimate question of medical ethics. It allows the reader to think of the emotional and moral issues.

Karen Lewis is a contributor to our Ministry Musings section, currently living in Squaw Valley with her husband, Rev. Christopher Lewis, who is interim pastor at Mountain Valley Community Church. Learn more of their ministry at her blog, Beyond The Horizon.

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