Never Letting Ishiguro Go

After stealing time during supposed sleeping hours and not making plans to go out simply to finish Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, I got around to finishing his heartbreakingly beautiful novel just yesterday. And as I hung on to the last few described mannerisms, conversations, and emotions, I came to screeching halt to the last page, almost in tears. The tears, if they decided to flow then, would have been out of remorse for the conclusion and the fact I could no longer have Ishiguro’s words flooding my mind.

Never Let Me Go recounts the story of Kathy, a student of the exclusive school Halisham. Kathy has spent her entire childhood and adolescence in Halisham, along with two of her best friends, Tommy and Ruth. The book begins with Kathy at 31 years old. She’s about to end her stint as a carer, and would like to remember what had passed in previous life as a student and as a friend to her childhood classmates Ruth and Tommy.

I’ll have to stop there. If I go into any more plot details, I’ll spoil the story itself and maybe even the pace at which you’ll read it (which you must, please. I insist, this early in my review!). The story sounds simple enough, but are novels ever as spelled out as their back cover blurbs (well, maybe except chick lit ones, haha)? As Kathy uncovers the smallest details to the most memorable parts of her Halisham past, she slowly understands her place in the world and what events, emotions, and decisions brought her future. What pulls the sequence of events together is Kathy’s tone. Ishiguro instantly keeps you on her side, without blatantly telling you how wonderful she is of a person. As her memories unfold, so does Kathy and her endearing simplicity. She’s a character you root for, but not in that “F YEAH!” way one would defend Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series or Midori of Norweigan Wood. Kathy reminds you of that one friend who’s always been there when you needed someone, most especially when everyone else looked the other way.

The power of Ishiguro’s language is subtle. It doesn’t quite hit you at first, somewhat like the Korean alcohol drink soju. I kept drinking in every word, hoping to uncover the mysterious hints Kathy drops once in a while. Then as time passed, I realized how precious the details of each part of her life were. I finally felt Kathy’s nostalgia for her past, and have no intention of ever letting any of it go (every title pun intended, obviously). Eventually, it came to a point where I was drunk with Ishiguro’s poetic prose and felt a heaviness in my heart for Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth’s struggles. It only hit me after putting the book down once in a while, how intense and gripping their story really was. The novel isn’t non-stop page-turning like a crime novel or an overhyped Dan Brown novel. It’s the complete opposite: the literary elements of a novel are what kept me holding on. Ishiguro’s language is like an untouched river that spans an entire country: it carries a multitude of meaning with focus and with flow. The characters, their developing story, and the beautiful, absolutely pristine language these are all spoken in transported me to Kathy H’s desires, confusions, etc. and even the English countryside.

I would actually forget where I was and felt like I was actually listening to Kathy. As if I were her carer and she decided to leave her story to me, so in some way, it would last and be told to a world that can’t seem to wrap its head around itself. Don’t get why I wrote the last sentence? Read it, then. It is a book one shouldn’t quickly give away and can only be recommended for the rest to understand the power of Never Let Me Go.


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