A haunting tale told by a mesmeric voice. A thought-provoking rather than an enjoyable read which it would be better to come to knowing nothing about.
What it’s about: I seem to be saying this a lot lately… but I honestly think your experience of this book will be improved if you come to it with no idea what it’s about. If you do want to read the blurb, I’ve put it down at the end of this review. I will say that, in my opinion, this is not a science fiction or dystopian novel, whatever you might hear or however you see it classified.
My take: I would give this book 4/5 stars rather than 5. The writing is excellent, the characters are interesting and you find yourself thinking about the issues it explores long after you finish reading. I can see why so many book clubs choose this!
However. The book contained no surprises for me. I think there are several things about the characters’ situation which are supposed to be shocks/reveals. But when the film adaptation came out a couple of years ago, I read quite a lot about it, and so knew what to expect. I think this detracted from my enjoyment of the book and my ability to care about the characters.
And that brings me to my next point. “Enjoyment” is the wrong word. This is not an enjoyable read in the sense of “fun”. The first-person narrative voice is detached and almost lethargic. At times it called to mind Kevin Spacey’s voice-over in the film American Beauty (no, she’s not a ghost!). When you finish the book, this makes sense and you see it couldn’t have been any other way. But while you’re reading, it creates a mood which carries you through the story in a sort of trance. You never feel present in events, which are always held at arms length. Again, this is perfectly in keeping with the narrator’s character and her destiny, but it doesn’t make for a “fun” reading experience.
In summary: this is a well-written book with interesting characters and themes. However, if you have a long TBR list, there is no need to rush to read Never Let Me Go. And if you’re in the mood for something light and action-packed, this definitely isn’t it.
P.S. I can see how the book would make a terrific film if handled well. I have to hunt the film out!
Now, for those of you who want it, the blurb:
As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.