Never Let Me Go is a novel about secrets and their slow discovery. A dystopic tale of love, death, and fate, the novel’s action centers on the friendship of Ruth, Kathy, and Tommy at a unique boarding school called Hailsham during the 1950s and 1970s, where students are encouraged to artistically express themselves. From adolescense to young adulthood, they sense their difference but can’t quite explain it. Nothing more can be said about the plot without ruining the twist for potential readers. So if you like very good albeit not great writing about coming of age in a dystopic environment where science and ethics collide, then take a hold of Never Let Me Go. I have a major criticism of the psychological plausibility of Ishuguro’s story, so stop reading if you don’t want to have the climax spoiled. Hailsham’s mission is to demonstrate that clones have souls, that future carers and donors, can think and feel like the rest of us. And while it appears that Hailsham succeeds (i.e., the children produce art, write stories, play football, fall in love, etc.) the students themselves lack a defining characteristic of adolescence, namely rebelliousness and the ability to ask the basic, simple question why. The students are railroaded into fate without a struggle, and if they’re so easily railroaded, then either the Hailsham project fails to elicit the humanity of its students, or Ishiguro fails to equip them with the rudiments of adolescent psychology. I rather suspect it’s the latter.
Never Let Me Go, or Ain’t Got No Soul