Have you ever read the reviews for a book and been absolutely astounded by all the amazing things that have been said about it? I have. I recently finished a novel that was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize back in 2005 and that novel was Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. And if I’m being honest (which I love to do), I don’t get all the hype that surrounded it at all.
We are being told the story by the protagonist, Kathy H., a carer living in a world where organ donors are reared from childhood. Kathy will one day become a donor too after her career as a carer comes to an end. The story Kathy tells us is her own, from her days at a school known as Hailsham to the turbulent life she leads after leaving. Her friends and love interest play a huge part in her story but that is where the problem lies with this novel.
One of Kathy’s friends is Ruth, a ridiculously annoying character that will most likely emulate somebody you knew in school. She’s the leader of her group of friends and acts like she’s a bigger deal than she really is, pretending to be a teacher’s favourite student and acting like she’s in-the-know about everything. In an ideal world, Ishiguro’s ability to write so well about a person shouldn’t be a negative but Ruth has a huge role to play in the novel and so much time is dedicated to her that I couldn’t enjoy it because hate whiney teenage girls with bitchy attitudes. It took a very long time to warm to any character for the same reason; they were all whiney children for most of the story.
There’s not a huge amount I can say about the good aspects of this novel without spoiling the end but despite how much I didn’t like the characters, I did find myself wishing for Kathy to succeed in the end because of a certain character redeeming herself and another character’s development over the course of the passing years. The idea behind it is interesting; a world where organ donors are raised for the job but the moral and political side of the story is pushed aside to make room for the characters going about their lives for the most part.
Chances are I will not read this novel again and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is looking for a book with a dollop of oomph! It would be more of interest to those who like Young Adult novels, dealing with the tribulations of growing up in a boarding school but again, why this book received so much adulation is beyond my comprehension.