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Never Let Me Go Book Review


Never Let Me Go book review. From the description…

“NOBEL PRIZE WINNER • From the acclaimed, bestselling author of The Remains of the Day comes “a Gothic tour de force” (The New York Times) with an extraordinary twist—a moving, suspenseful, beautifully atmospheric modern classic.

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.”


The novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is by far one of my favorite books ever. I’m usually not the sophisticated artistic type that delights in a deconstructive, unhappy ending, but this book does it right. And that’s why it won the Nobel Prize, friends. And that is why I am doing this Never Let Me Go book review.

Deconstruction is a literary lens for interpreting a story in which two binary oppositions are pitted against each other in such a way that the two essentially cancel each other out, leaving the reader with the essential idea that nothing matters. As a believer in Christ, I reject deconstruction literature. I believe God created binaries with inherent and important meanings i.e. male versus female. I believe the two are different and opposing biological realities that have different and opposing values intrinsic only to them and they cannot be deconstructed.

So, why, Wendy, why do you like Never Let Me Go so much?? Isn’t it showing that the binary of humans vs clones doesn’t really matter because we all just end up dying at the end anyway?

No, my friends, no, it does not. 

Actually, the clones in this novel are a representation of humans who are living but who do not have Christ. They are living but they do not have Life. Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were created to die (as will we all), but they spend their whole lives wondering if there is more, searching for more, sinning to get more…and never get there. Why? Because they are missing an essential ingredient: Christ. That’s why I think this book resonates with so many people and, in effect, why it won the Nobel Prize.

It taps into something deep within us all that longs for more. Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear will recognize it and know that life isn’t meaningless. Even though we die, we will have Life. Those who don’t have eyes to see or ears to hear will be left feeling empty, always searching for a deferral – a way to extend their lives so that they can hold on to the tenuous grasp of reality and perceived power they think they own. That’s what Kathy and Tommy did. 

So, yes. Never Let Me Go uses deconstruction but not to show that life is meaningless, rather to show that life is meaningful. We only have so much time…you have to make it count.

Notable Quotes:

  • “What I’m not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”
  • “The problem, as I see it, is that you’ve been told and not told. You’ve been told, but none of you really understand, and I dare say, some people are quite happy to leave it that way.”
  • “I saw a new world coming rapidly. More scientific, efficient, yes. More cures for the old sicknesses. Very good. But a harsh, cruel, world. And I saw a little girl, her eyes tightly closed, holding to her breast the old kind world, one that she knew in her heart could not remain, and she was holding it and pleading, never to let her go.”
  • “I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart.”
  • “Your life must now run the course that’s been set for it.”
  • “We took away your art because we thought it would reveal your souls. Or to put it more finely, we did it to prove you had souls at all.”

Final Thoughts

Never Let Me Go won the Nobel Prize for more reasons than the one I just gave you. The writing is unbelievably good. From the beginning you know that there is something more going on beneath the surface of the story, but it isn’t revealed right away. I’ve already told you the story is about clones. It’s Science Fiction. But you would never know it. It never feels other worldly or unrealistic. It’s not set in the future or an alternate reality. It is grounded in the real world and you feel it. The story is about clones, but it is, without a doubt, human.

The relationship between Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth hurts. I don’t usually like stories with love triangles because they are so hormonal and sentimental and usually just kind of stupid, but Ishiguro does not write like that – thank you, Sir! Like I said, it hurts because it’s real. The way that Ruth hurts Kathy is a true story. This is what sin does. It is manipulative, it is vindictive, it is merciless. It doesn’t bring Ruth happiness throughout her life. It only brings a deep and resounding guilt within her. At the end of her life, she repents and only then is she set free. Only then is she saved. 

If you want to know if souls are real. If souls have the power to irrevocably damage another soul, look at how people treat others and look at what it does to them. If you want to know if damned souls really can be saved, listen when a person admits that they were wrong and watch them turn around and do the right thing.

Souls really do exist. Don’t waste yours.

That is the message of Never Let Me Go.

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