Following the acclaims of “The Remains of the Day” which earned the Booker Prize in 1989, Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go” (also shortlisted for the Booker in 2005) held great promise.

Perhaps it was naiveté, or blind trust from being in the hands of an accomplished author, but it never occurred to me until after 100 pages that this books skirts science-fiction, a genre for which I still have to acquire a taste. The story, narrated by a young woman reminiscing about her childhood and early life within the confines of a contemporary English boarding school, tells of the bonds of friendship with her classmates as they grow up without knowing the fate reserved for them in the outside world. In a flat, monotonous tone and without a trace of humor, wit, or irony, “Kathy” relates mundane events in her daily life so banal that it makes us wonder where the real interest of her story lies. “As I say,” and “I’ll come to that in a moment,” or “as I later understood” were phrases often repeated to prod the reader to turn the page. Nevertheless, I pushed on to the end to discover the ultimate tragic destiny of these young adults.

To say more at this point would spoil the story. Once I grasped the delusion though, the book falls apart on several levels. A good number of themes surface — ethics, morality, medical pioneering, love and friendship — but remain inadequately addressed and explained. The novel unfortunately ends in the same vacuum in which it began.

About Kazuo Ishiguro: author of six novels, A Pale View of Hills (1982, Winifred Holtby Prize), An Artist of the Floating World (1986, Whitbread Book of the Year Award, Primio Scanno, shortlisted for the Booker Prize), The Remains of the Day (1989, winner of the Booker Prize), The Unconsoled (1995, winner of the Cheltenham Prize), When We Were Orphans (2000, shortlisted for the Booker Prize) and Never Let Me Go (2005, shortlisted for the MAN Booker Prize), and a book of stories, Nocturnes (2009). He received an OBE for Services to Literature in 1995, and the French decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1998.

Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
304 pages