A science fiction future where some children are raised only to become organ donors.
Through human cloning, individuals are raised from childhood in a protected environment and as "students" are faced with a future as donors of their organs.
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Published 2010, 288 pages
Strange book. Reviews call it a mystery. I don’t consider it a mystery at all, certainly not in the traditional sense of a crime was committed and someone is trying to solve it. There are a couple of unknowns, secrets that you discover the answer to late in the book. Also, if you’re looking for action, this is not the book you want to read. Nothing really happens. It's also what I would call light on sci-fi.
Set in 1990s England, this story focuses on clones Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth and their relationship with each other. Whether apart for months or years, their lives stay connected. Told from Kathy’s point of view, looking back on their experiences, the story is told in a strange narrative “Maybe I’m not remembering it correctly,” “things might have turned out differently if…” Then she’ll make a statement and say “more about that later. I’ll get to that.” I got tired of this repetitive way of telling the story.
Some children are raised for one reason only, to be donors. While young they are in school, taught by guardians, and gradually and often in oblique terms, they are exposed to snippets of what their lives will be. When they reach their late teens they become carers who look out for donors, and then eventually go on to be donors themselves.
As students they are encouraged to be creative – paint, sculpt, write poetry, draw, etc. and their best work gets taken away to Madame’s Gallery – why and what does she do with it? Who is Madame? I suppose Madame’s Gallery is considered one of the “mysteries” but I simply think it’s a secret, something not discussed.
I didn’t much like Ruth who could at times be nice and caring but often was bitchy, mean, and petty. Her mood would turn on a dime if she didn’t like something you said or did.
The story is very claustrophobic in that the only thing we see is these three characters and their lives in the school, then as carers and donors. It reveals almost nothing about the “outside/real” world. There is nothing about any interaction with other people or how they are treated by other people or even if people realize that they belong to this group of carers and donors.
There are also no details about what organs they donate, their recovery time from that “donation,” what person got the donation and how were they chosen, or how long between donations?
But my biggest problem was that I couldn’t believe that none of the students and young adults, as they realized what was ahead of them, wouldn't try to run away (they do go out in the world and have freedom to move about), or that they hardly questioned and certainly never fought back against what was planned for them.
In my final analysis, a book that would probably create a lot of discussion but still not one I would recommend.
top photo Pixaby on pexels, body photo (clone) by Terrie Purkey