We’ve been learning a valuable lesson in my Education classes about asking “So what?” when composing lessons and that was the question I kept asking myself all the way through Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go. So what???
I’ll let Goodreads give you a general synopsis:
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.
For a number of reasons, I definitely didn’t enjoy reading this novel. First of all, I think it’s clear by now that I’m not into books that are all about feelings but, as a future teacher of middle and high school kids, I’m taking great strides to get over that. What irked me about Never Let Me Go was that it kept prompting me to ask, “So what?” and failed to answer that question until the last chapter of the book. About 275 pages of the book are the memories of Kathy, just relaying the events of her childhood with her classmates. The occasional, subtle hints of something being different about these students was the only thing that indicated that the story was building towards anything, and I continued reading hoping that clarification would eventually be given. Every 50 pages or so, readers would gain insight as to how the students were unique, but it would be nonchalantly thrown in among feelings and childish drama.
Finding meaning in this text was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Oh, it’s in there! We had a lovely class discussion about our idea of the meaning of the text, but we had to sift through a lot of hay before we found anything resembling a needle. I will concede to the fact that this novel had meaning; it forces readers to think about life and freedom in a unique way, and I appreciate the reminder that we need to be thankful for those things, which is often easy to forget. However, I found the characters, events, and overall storyline to be unlikable and could’ve easily reached the same moral ending under entirely different circumstances and possibly even enjoyed myself. As it was, however, I regret buying the book.
Another one bites the dust. Better luck next time.