There are plenty of reasons why you should pick up Never Let Me Go right away. One of the major reasons being that this dystopian, though it came out in 2005 is far ahead in its approach. What could be said about an author who has been awarded the highest honor, the nobel prize in Literature? Never Let me Go is one such marvel which perplexes the reader in the beginning but as the fundamentals of a new fictional world begin dawning, one realises why Ishiguro’s works are celebrated across the world.
Never Let Me Go with its twisted narrative.
Instead of analysing the world from the perspective of a ‘normal’, it takes us into the mind of Kathy, a clone who is nostalgic about her days in Halisham. Halisham is equal to a boarding school where clones learn about various aspects of life, become knowledgeable and social while the people at the help of affair try to understand how human they are.
Since the book is through the point of view of Kathy, it is hard to understand the entirety of what is happening until one realises the purpose of Halisham and the core issues that this novel tries to deal with. The chapters where Madame takes the most beautiful expressions of art whether in the form of poetry, painting or anything else and keeps it in ‘the gallery’, is of much intrigue until the final chapters in the novel where it all comes together. It is due to this narration that the mystery of this new world remains and one gets to enjoy the subtle pleasures of seeing childhood friendships, jealousies and have an inside peek into the lives of characters. The seriousness of it all overshadows it much later.
Never Let me go is an award-winner
And rightly so with its premise of a world where clones exist for the sake of curing diseases like cancer but at the sake of their own lives. The entire book deals with the dilemma of the greater good vs morally right. It also deals with many themes that work towards creating an overall understanding of the purpose of this book. One of those themes is whether creativity is equal to humanity.
“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.”
The clones in Halisham are urged to express their creativity so it could be shown to the world that these kids also had souls. They also had thoughts and feelings like any other human. But would a person on the verge of dying who would get a new life out of the death of this “other” really care whether the one they were killing had feelings?
Another theme this novel deals with is the ethics in killing another for your own survival? Though it is not explicitly shown in the book but it is well understood that apart from people at Halisham, almost everyone had accepted this new reality where the clones were less human and existed only for the sake of furthering the lives of their human counterpart. This is why when one of the clones died, he didn’t ‘die’, he got completed.
Ishiguro goes deeper into the dark side of science
“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.”
Scientific developments help in the progress of human race but science has always been used AND misused by humans as per their selfish needs. This novel also tries to broach the subject of what happens when scientific experiments go too far. The mention of genetically altered babies which is also becoming a close reality in the current world, faster than cloning, is completely taboo in this fictional world since it threatens the existing human race. However, another race (clones) which exists solely to serve humans is not only welcomed but exploited to the core.
The Race Metaphor
It might surprise a common reader how racism is a factor in all this when clones are completely fictional and there’s no mention of Black, Asian or other races in the Never Let Me Go. But it does show how one race (human race) believes itself to be supreme to the point that it does not care about exploiting another till death. While the concept of death, for these clones isn’t shown to be as scary since they believe it to be their purpose of existence, it does show how an entire community can be brainwashed into believing that they exist for serving another.
“Your life must now run the course that’s been set for it.”
What is a book without memorable quotes?
If I finish a book without having found any sentence or quote that I would like to write down separately or highlight because I found it profound, then I don’t consider that book to be memorable. This was not the case with Never Let me Go.
“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”
“All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma.”
If you want to read Never Let Me go, you can get it here. The movie Never Let me Go came out in 2010. You can check out the trailer here.