25 December 2007

Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go, 2005

Perhaps a book best approached with as little foreknowledge of its theme as possible, Never Let Me Go’s narrator, Kathy, at first brings you deep into her everyday life as a modern day schoolgirl, though it’s only after a couple of chapters that you begin to notice the absence of... certain essentials. The subtle hint of unease that pervades the book is captured well in one early scene, and from there the reader’s perception is given small seismic shifts by the revelations held in small incidents. Kathy’s ordinaryness contrasts with the extraordinarily cruelty of her existence; she and her friends Ruth and Tommy twine around each other and interconnect like strands of a triple helix, always looking back because they have no future, a situation that a more traditional science fictional rendition would probably have had them rebelling against. This is a linear book that rarely reveals the turns up ahead, and is all the more observant and unusual in its restraint because of Ishiguro’s controlled avoidance of dramatic distractions. Excellent.   PY

  Never Let Me Go was shortlisted for the 2006 Arthur C. Clarke Award, and received a 2006 Alex Award.

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