Never Let Me Go is a haunting beautiful novel that will leave you reeling.
The book follows the life of Kathy, Tommy and Ruth. First at what seems to be a boarding school and then in the world.
The situation of these three friend is never fully explained. It is talked about as if the reader already knows and eventually you realise the truth.
They are clones. Bred to serve as organ donors for humans. The school is an experiment. To prove that the clones can have humanity. Not all clones are so lucky, some are reared like cattle for use in the hospitals.
All clones work as carers for the others who are going through the donation process. After about four donations they will die, or complete as they call it.
Kathy, Tommy and Ruth leave school at age 16 to go to a residential placement called The Cottages. Here they meet other clones like them who were not a the school. A rumour is started that if two clones can prove they are in love, they will be given more time before they have to donate. This is only for Hailsham students.
Kathy falls in love with Tommy, but as they leave school he enters into a relationship with Ruth. Ruth does all she can to keep the two apart and eventually Kathy leaves to start her life as a carer.
Many years pass until Kathy becomes a carer for Ruth. Her first donation hasn’t gone well, her next is likely to be her last. Ruth connects Tommy and Kathy together again. She apologies for keeping them apart and implore them to seek out the myth that they can have more time. Tommy is on his final donation. He will complete with his next one.
Kathy becomes Tommy’s carer after Ruth makes a final donation and completes. They attempt to delay Tommy’s final donation.
Together Ruth and Tommy travel to the home of Madame, a woman who came to the school to select their artwork. When they find her she reveals that the rumour is a lie. There is no way to gain more time.
In the wake of that terrible reality. That there is no more time. That they have been bred to died Tommy and Kathy drift apart.
The novel ends with Kathy learning Tommy has completed and that she is due to start her first donation.
This is a beautiful novel with some hard themes. Some reviews I have read exclaim, why didn’t they run away or why are they so accepting of their fate? I think that isn’t the point of the story. It isn’t a novel of escape and rebellion.
This book shows a future of using clones to heal ourselves while seeing them as non-human as we see animals. It felt believable. The clones are raised with this knowledge. It is part of them, that they have been created to die for someone else. They live the best lives they can before that happens. They know no other life.
It is the calm acceptance of their brutal treatment that makes the book an uncomfortable read in that respect. That we humans are happily killing hundreds of clones to heal ourselves. Thinking they aren’t human is how you sleep at night. Removing them from the world you know makes them alien.
This isn’t a happy novel. But it’s a thought provoking one and I think it’s a must read in everyone’s lifetime.
If you haven’t read it already, make sure to pick up a copy here: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Have you read Never Let Me Go? Let me know what you think below!