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.
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 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.