Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

IshiguroI find Kazuo Ishiguro unpredictable, which could be why I am always intrigued to read his work, I loved his recent collection of short stories Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, yet I could not finish and had to abandon The Unconsoled and sadly I feel ambivalent about Never Let Me Go, though I do want to see how it was put to film.

It is not a book to share much about the plot, as virtually anything said might spoil the reading experience, but it is effectively a coming of age story centred around the character of Kathy, from her teenage into young adult years, from the last year she and others lived in a boarding school until the early days of her first job as a carer.  She looks back and analyses that time in an effort to understand the significance of minor details and events in their lives and her friendships with Ruth and Tommy.

I think my ambivalence stems from what seemed like restraint from delving into the depths of the characters, which could be a consequence of both the plot and the narrative form, however in my opinion, this constituted a weakness and I remained far too conscious of this lack all the way through reading. The repetitive nature of the narrative style also contributed to this and I found it annoying, it was a tool that could have intrigued, but when it didn’t succeed to do that for this reader, it became frustrating.

It is telling that I did not highlight any paragraphs or phrases as I read and that it took two weeks to read it. As you can see from the photo above, taken at the airport in Marseille, I finally finished it during a two-hour flight!

Just Dive In - My early morning dip at Sausset-les-Pins this summer

Just Dive In – My early morning dip at Sausset-les-Pins this summer

However, do not let me put you off. I recommend if you are a fan of Ishiguro that you just dive in and read it without referring to any reviews and remember that the majority of readers who have already read this book, rate it highly. I am an anomaly. I am looking forward to his next work and still have fond memories of that short story collection and am reassured in the knowledge that he is capable of work that is much more my kind of thing.