Never Let Me Go Review: Ishiguro’s Mastery In His Skill Works Wonders For This Book

‘Never Let Me Go’ is sweet pain. Yes! I finally found a term to best describe my feelings for this book. This book is so well written that I did not want to keep it down but the story is so painful that I was constantly wary of where it was leading me. When I bought the book, I wasn’t aware that I had already seen the movie adaptation several years ago. It was only after I started reading it that I could see the characters right in front of my eyes and then I realised how much I actually know about it. However, let me echo a common thought amongst most book lovers that the movie is nothing compared to the book. Never Let Me Go explores human relationships in such depth that only written words can do justice to it nothing else. Seeing the Japanese author’s name on the cover I presumed this book would deal with a story set in Japan. But that was not the case here. Kazuo Ishiguro is a British writer which explains the reason why the story is set in England.  

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Publisher: Faber and Faber

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.

(Blurb as on

I LIKE ‘Never Let Me Go’ Because,

Never Let Me Go Review

…of Ishiguro’s impactful writing. For a story like this one, it is only Ishiguro’s writing prowess that binds you to it. Never Let Me Go is seen as a science fiction whereas it is much beyond that. For me, it is a tragedy, a melodrama. Ishiguro has drawn his characters so intricately that it evokes a sense of pathos by just the mere thought of their pain. The story is set in the 1980’s but is futuristic in approach. With a first-person narration, we follow the life of Kathy H. and her fellow students at Hailsham boarding school. At first, I thought the boarding school houses orphans but it is later revealed that these characters are a lot different than you think they are. Despite the difference, children at Hailsham are treated with utmost love and care by the guardians at the boarding school. At the boarding school, these students learn about a lot of stuff including the significance of friendship and love. They lead a life as normal as possible which is what gives rise to the main conflict in the story. For a major part of the book, Kathy acts as the observer who keenly notices every little thing about the people around her especially her two closest friends Ruth and Tommy. Kathy touches upon many phases that kids go through such as the need for validation from others, constant need for being the centre of attention, peer pressure, bullying, and a hyperactive imagination. Kathy, Ruth and Tommy then grow up to become individuals with dreams and hopes. Something that they cannot afford to have.

I generally steer away from sad stories but Never Let Me Go had me hooked. And once again I will give Ishiguro’s writing style full credit or it.  

…Kathy, Ruth and Tommy’s relationship opened my eyes to the fact that the bond of friendship can be as strong as it is fragile. Friendship is as complicated as it is simple. The kids in Hailsham have no one but friends to lean on. They are each other’s families and like every family, they too have their happy and sad moments. Kathy is closest to Ruth and Tommy and like a close family member she understands them and sees right through their every facade. I am amazed at how beautifully Ishiguro has developed these characters. They sound and seem real enough to be touched. Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, each show tremendous character development through the story which is what I loved the most about them.                

I Do NOT Like ‘Never Let Me Go’ Because,

Never Let Me Go Review

Nothing at all.

Favourite Quotes in ‘Never Let Me Go’

“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”

“We took away your art because we thought it would reveal your souls. Or to put it more finely, we did it to prove you had souls at all.”

“What I’m not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”

“You have to accept that sometimes that’s how things happen in this world. People’s opinions, their feelings, they go one way, then the other. It just so happens you grew up at a certain point in this process.”

“It never occurred to me that our lives, until then so closely interwoven, could unravel and separate over a thing like that. But the fact was, I suppose, there were powerful tides tugging us apart by then, and it only needed something like that to finish the task. If we’d understood that back then-who knows?-maybe we’d have kept a tighter hold of one another.”

“And so we stood together like that, at the top of that field for what seemed like ages, not saying anything, just holding each other, while the wind kept blowing and blowing at us, tugging our clothes, and for a moment, it seemed like we were holding onto each other because that was the only way to stop us from being swept away into the night.”



Final View: If a thought-provoking story is your thing then this book is for you. If you are looking for a book that is well-written then this book is for you.

You can check out for a discount on this book.

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