Ashlyn Chapman

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro


My Thoughts

Never Let Me Go is an easy read about intense themes. It starts slow (at least commit to read up to page 80), then it zooms.

This is a science fiction novel in that it takes place where cloning is widespread. What happens after World War II if biological cloning advanced as much as nuclear physics? Otherwise, there is very little mention of advanced technology.

For the first third of the novel I felt rather confused. I didn't understand the story and where it headed.

Throughout the middle, one of the main characters, Ruth, annoyed me nonstop. She was so manipulative. Do her behaviors reflect her lack of character since she's a clone? An absence of parental guidance? Or, does Ruth behave like every teenager discovering their identity and social value?

By the novel's finale, I felt sad. It wasn't a despair or anger inspired sadness. More like an emptiness. The world in novel is not too far from our own.

My emotional arc through the story mirrors what the main character, Kath, felt. It's brilliant writing, the way Ishiguro reveals information to us as Kath learns it.

While reading I found myself often connecting ideas to Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I love how two distinct styles of media provoke similar conversations about bioethics. How do we treat clones? Are clones human? What makes a human?

Additionally, Never Let Me Go explores what making art reveal about our souls, our humanity, and the human condition. (At some point there will be a link here to my thoughts on why creating is the most divine thing humans can do). Is a crime against humanity a crime if the result can cure cancer? What atrocities are we willing to withstand to destroy disease?

My Highlights

Ruth had been right: Madame was afraid of us. But she was afraid of us in the same way someone might be afraid of spiders. We hadn't been ready for that. It had never occurred to us to wonder how we would feel, being seen like that, being the spiders. pg35

I suppose it had something to do with it being a secret, just how much it had meant to me. Maybe all of us at Hailsham had little secrets like that--little private nooks created out of thin air where we could go off alone with our fears and longings. pg74

So we went into Woolsworth's, and immediately I felt much more cheerful. Even now, I like places like that: a large store with lots of aisles displaying bright plastic toys, greeting cards, loads of cosmetics, maybe even a photo booth. Today, if I'm in a town and find myself with some time to kill, I'll stroll into somewhere just like that, where you can hang around and enjoy yourself, not buying a thing, and the assistants don't mind at all. pg157

"But you must try and see it historically. After the war, in the early fifties, when the great breakthroughs in science followed one after the other so rapidly, there wasn't time to take stock, to ask the sensible questions. Suddenly there were all these new possibilities laid before us, all these ways to cure so many previously incurable conditions. This was what the world noticed the most, wanted the most. ... However uncomfortable people were about your existence, their overwhelming concern was that their own children, their spouses, their parents, their friends, did not die from cancer, motor neurone disease, heart disease." pg262-263

I saw a new world coming rapidly. More scientific, efficient, yes. More cures for the old sicknesses. Very good. But a harsh, cruel world. pg272

#art #book #cloning #ethics #scifi