Monday, August 04, 2008

Never Let Me Go

I don't know how you pick your books. I read the title and the blurb. So when I found this book - Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro among the others my father had recently bought, I thought it might be a good time to get back to reading again.

The story is about Kathy, Tommy and Ruth as they spend their lives in Hailsham, a boarding school in the English countryside. As a thirty-something Kathy starts reminiscing about her childhood days, we are drawn to a world where everyone is brought up to become 'carers' and 'donors'. Ishiguro conjures up a world which is difficult to comprehend. We dont even fully know what these terms mean. Yet, he manages to put in the same ethos, the same doubts, the same little joys that we all must have felt while growing up. From the sense of pride in collecting items, to the fear of asking an elder about something we know is forbidden, from the love-hate relationships we had with our friends to the games we played; the process of growing up, getting to know the world around us but at the same time having one of our own is vividly portrayed throughout the narrative.

Reading the book is almost like walking through mist. There's a sense of apprehension which never leaves you. You are not quite sure of what to expect though you have some idea of what's coming. A delicate thread binds all the three principal characters. You can almost feel that it could snap anytime and change the course of the novel. It is this sense of fragility which makes the novel a pageturner. It's hard to 'let go'. Because even though as you read on and begin to feel that the end would leave you unsatisfied and sad, yet you want to get to it. To know for sure.

Never Let Me Go is a novel about a special bunch of kids. Their visions of adulthood, their struggle to come to terms with who they are and their hopes of achieving something which isn't meant for them. It's a story of friendship and love and the complex dynamics that rule most human relations. It hits you and would stay with you long after you have closed the book. It doesn't leave a good feeling even. It leaves you with more questions than answers. But it's a unique story. So removed from reality yet so close to it. And the most striking thing was the fact that at so many levels, I was able to identify with it. The english countryside description with its hillocks and ponds reminded me of similar ones I have read or listened to. And so many emotions which Kathy, Tommy and Ruth go through have been ones that I have felt in the near past.

It's an odd world that this novel is set in. Even after having read it only recently and now writing about it, I don't really know how to talk about it. Except that it's very human. And it has got an amazing pace to it. Not too fast. Not too slow. I didn't quite like his other book, 'When We Were Orphans'. But this one definitely makes me want to read more from Ishiguro.

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