Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro (A Book Like This Merits A Sober Title)

What do you say about a book that makes you want to jump in and take care of the characters? To give them a hug and tell them you’re there for them and it aches not to be able to?

Ishiguro has been on my to-read list for quite a while now, but I was very particular about this book being my first – a sort of gateway into the world of Ishiguro-loving-awesomeness, if you will. Why was I so particular? I saw the movie earlier this year as part of my 50-50 Challenge. I’ll come to that in a bit.

The Book.

I’ve heard a lot of people praise this book to the stars, always along the lines of,  “Ishiguro is amazing. You have to read his work!” But WHY is this man amazing? What is it about him ? I’ve never heard a single bad review of this book, and I never thought it strange until I started reading. I’ve always just nodded eagerly and made a mental note to get my hands on the book.

So, let’s look at this man, shall we? For the first fifty pages or so, I felt nothing. Sure, it was interesting, but his writing wasn’t particularly scintillating – certainly nothing I’d be impressed by having just read Angela Carter (review coming soon, this woman is mad. In a good way, of course).

Was it the characters? No, not really.

Was it what he was writing about? (I’m not telling you, this book has been falsely advertised as a lot of things and it makes me very angry. I’ll direct you to the Goodreads summary, though. But please don’t look through the reader reviews. Do you trust me? Yes? Good. )

“Get on with it!”, you’re thinking. “Tell us!”

Honestly? I don’t know.

Never Let Me Go is the most beautiful, depressing piece of art I have ever come across. It isn’t one whose magnificence you’d shout from the rooftops, but one you’d carry around with you, stare at lovingly from time to time, flip through pages long after you’ve finished – just to remember the journey it took you on.

It’s the kind of book you’d recommend with sparkly eyes and a secretive little whisper. The kind that you’ll think about long after you’ve finished reading and occasionally shake your head in wonder. The kind that’ll make you want to review this before Mistborn even though you read that one first and it was fantastic.

Is there anything extraordinary about this book? If I have to be honest, no. But it’s a special book. A very special book. A very, very, very, very…you get it. I expected to weep buckets, because that’s what happened when I watched the movie for the first time. But I was dry-eyed for the most part. There were just two sentences that set me off. Two sentences, two choked sobs. That’s it. But in those few moments, I felt such a deep connection to Kathy (Goodreads link, clickety-click), that it felt like..I can’t tell you what it felt like. I don’t have the words.

The Movie

The first time I watched this, I absolutely loved it. L-o-v-e, as in l-o-v-e. I thought the concept was genius, and the way they handled it was exactly right – soft, subtle tones, soothing actors, and locations that added to the build-up without being distracting. Plus, it had Carey Mulligan. I’d watch her in anything – she has a way of knowing exactly how to handle her characters.

So of course, after I finished the book, to prolong the Never Let Me Go feeling, I tried watching the movie.


Young Kathy was all wrong, all my favourite bits had been chopped off, and Keira Knightly had a permanent sneer on her face. I kept feeling like she was going to bite one of her co-stars any second.

So, how to handle the situation? I’d recommend that you:

a) Watch the movie first (I can’t believe I’m saying this). But then you’ll pretty much know the gist of the story, and even though I think this is among my top-reads for the year (and ever, really), a part of me wished that it was the book that explained it all to me. Not the movie. Because the book affected me on a much, much deeper level.

Or, b) Ditch the movie altogether. But then you’d be missing Carey Mulligan.

You could always watch the movie a year after reading it, though. That would work, too.

I have to say, though. WHAT a poster.

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8 responses to “Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro (A Book Like This Merits A Sober Title)”

  1. Book Club Babe says :

    I’m glad you loved Never Let Me Go. It’s hard to explain why it’s so special, but I agree that it’s one of those books that stays with you. I have to say, though, that I watched the movie well after I read the book, and I still fell in love with it. Granted, Andrew Garfield had a lot to do with that, but I felt it was a worthy adaptation nonetheless. Emotionally draining and haunting–I think that’s what Ishiguro does best.

    • Tanya says :

      I made the mistake of watching it for the second time right after I finished reading it. Half an hour after, I think. Maybe that’s what ruined it for me. But the first time I watched it, I was totally blown away.

  2. Literary Tiger says :

    This is on my TBR list! I’m so glad you like it. I can’t wait to get to it. 🙂

  3. The Other Watson says :

    I have been meaning to read this one for a while… (perhaps the sentence I say the most often, well, apart from working up too early and saying “not again!”)… 😛

  4. lynnsbooks says :

    I am definitely going to read some of this author’s books! Exactly when? Well, I refuse to be pinned down….
    Went on a bit of a book-spree today. Got lots of things. Decided to try some Gemmell. Lots more books are now sat looking at me. They go on top of the pile which seems a bit unfair to the other books, but, the big news is I got The Sandman – Dream Country (from the Library, yay). I realise this isn’t the first one but not all the copies were in and impatience got the better of me. So I’m going to have a read!.
    Lynn 😀

    • Tanya says :

      You. Get on Goodreads. How else am I supposed to throw recommendation after recommendation at you? This is me.

      I loved the first two. You havetohavetohaveto get your hands on them. I’m so excited you’re finally reading it! 😀

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