My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Never Let Me Go opens with the narrator introducing herself (My name is Kathy H. and I am 31 years old), and who then talks, bewilderingly, about her job as a carer. She has been a carer for years, she says, and she is proud of her job, and she is proud the donors she cares for are calm. She then moves on to talk about a boarding school she attended when she was young. From the description of events you can tell that it is not an ordinary boarding school, and Kathy H. is only telling us a tiny sliver of the truth at a time, doling it out like candy. She doesn’t do this deliberately. She tells a story like a child. She sounds naive at times; she jumps from one topic to another before returning to the original discussion. She is matter-of-fact. She doesn’t wax poetic, even when what she is telling us is horrible. She doesn’t regard it as horror. She regards it as her life, and that’s that.
Ishiguro eases you into the big secret, leaving clues here and there, but I already knew it before reading the first line, (no) thanks to the film adaptation trailers and ads. Some critics, who didn’t know the true circumstances of Kathy H. before reading the book, read it as a horror novel. I read it as a very sad story. Here is a girl living this life, and she tells us about the time her friend threw a tantrum, about her cassette tape, about her friends’ petty rumors. You want to shake her and say Stop talking! None of it matters! But is that true?