tripping the life unbalanced

Monday, April 17, 2006

#30 Never Let Me Go

Over the long weekend I got the chance to finally finish #30 of my 50 book challenge. And if the titles on this list of mine were ever in competition with each other, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro would probably be in the top 3. I feel I can say that because even though I am only about a quarter of the way through the list, this book is so great that you know you are in the presence of excellence while reading it.

I don't want to spoil the story for those of you who plan to read it (do it DO IT I say), so suffice to say this is somewhat of a sci-fi novel set in an alternate time where human clones are bred as organ donors. It focuses on 3 friends (who are clones) and their years at an quasi-English boarding school while preparing for their ultimate destiny - donating their organs. Are ya with me so far?

To say this novel goes beyond any sci-fi tale is an understatement. This could easily be a comment on the possibility of cloning and its effect on the world. It could be personal statement about the search for so-called "perfection" and what that does to society at large. But it's not. It's a tale of 3 friends who must navigate through their somewhat moral-less world, without the regular rules of young self-exploration to back them up. Instead of the necessary self-examination that is the staple of any novel with teenagers, these 3 friends embark on a different journey to contemplate their existence: who are they really if just stand-ins until their organs are needed by the real humans? What kind of moral compass can exist in a world like this? They go through the same painstakingly awful rituals of growing up (fitting in with their friends, discovering young love, betraying each other) but yet they are all too aware that their future does not actually exist. That these rituals mean nothing because there is no place to hang them later in life.

I'm not a sci-fi fan, and I'm the first one to look glassy-eyed when Matt starts talking about theories of chaos or such as shown in some specific Star Trek episode. But this book had me thinking and feeling beyond the usual read. Absolutely recommended.


  • Ishiguro is one of my favorite authors. 'Artist of The Floating World' is my favorite book of all time.

    I'm not a big sci-fi fan but I'm going to read 'Never Let Me Go.' Thanks for the tip.

    By Anonymous sweatpantsmom, at 7:04 p.m.  

  • Isn't it a wonderful novel? I loved it too—in fact, I'd go so far as to call it brilliant (if that's not too effusive)...

    By Blogger hip_ragdoll, at 6:31 a.m.  

  • I loved Never Let Me Go--I hate to say it, because it's so cliched, but it was haunting. The whole question of whether these children have souls had me stalking my husband around the house saying, "But what IS the sould? Is it connected to the body or to something larger?"

    He thought I had lost it.

    By Blogger Susan, at 7:15 a.m.  

  • That's interesting Susan. Okay, add that to the list of 437 things I'd like to read some day.

    By Blogger Marla, at 8:38 a.m.  

  • If you like that sort of socila commentary masked in not-too-nerdy sci-fi, I also highly recommend Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake. It was freakin' awesome. Chilling, scary to think of a possible future like that, but I couldn't put it down.

    By Blogger scarbie doll, at 9:03 a.m.  

  • I'm still stuck on the fact that you're at number 30! Wow, please let me in on your "finding time to read" secret.

    By Blogger Stefanie, at 9:45 p.m.  

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