This is the second novel that I have read from Ishiguro, and I must confess that I liked it even more than “The Remains of the Day”. “Never Let Me Go” is a beautiful, classy and yet, a sad blend of realism and fiction, which raises ethical dilemmas and questions on what it means to be human.
Could Ishiguro have been into something prophetic in here? Is there something in us humans, which we call as the instinct of survival, embedded in our reptile brain, that makes us turn against our humanity at the same time?
These question marks on humans are not coincidental, as in the dystopian world of the human clones, there is a reference to their souls, and to the potential existence of their models. What is their role in the human world? What is their purpose?
It is hard to take apart the fiction from the realistic elements in this novel. This usually happens in the dystopian genres, but here it is more evident. It feels like Ishiguro may have been up to something in his imagination. He doesn’t explicitly moralize the whole notion of cloning for the purpose of donating all organs until death, but as he vividly describes their emotions, narrated from their first person, then the reader automatically feels pity, sadness, and even anger regarding their sealed fate.
Having souls, being able to feel emotions, to think, to produce art works. Isn’t this what all other humans do? What is the difference?
As much as macabre it may sound, unfortunately, cloning for organ transplants is not such a crazy unimaginable idea after all. It has been contemplated in the years following the novel publication, as well. Regretfully, I am not sure to what extent the ethics of it have been discussed at its deserved length in the media press.
The book looks at the world from a different perspective, making it seem like there is a system in place accepted by everyone. Questions like: Why didn’t they just run away were always present in my mind. Yet, this wasn’t just some sect, which exploited these people, it was a whole world backing it up, leaving no room for escape.
Without wanting to spoil the plot, big themes such as memories, human vulnerability, love, humanity questions and more are unfolded in the pages of this book.
The three different parts belong to different periods in the characters’ lives, and there is a clear rising tension in events, until they climax. It is like the whole pieces of the story are building up, and then all the mosaic puzzles put together, as the answers unfold at the end of the novel.
The writing style is realistic, and chronological. However, there are non-linearities in the little events, which are masterfully braided within the bigger story. Imagine it like some little chaos, which helps to put the ultimate order.
The written language is euphemistic and even tends to be robotic at times. For example, using ‘doners’ instead of ‘clones’: does the author intend to make the characters sound closes to humans to appeal to our emotions, or to give a message of their humanity even? A contrasting example is using “completed”, instead of “dying”. This one sounds more robotic, lowering a bit the dramatic effects and diversifying the language in such a way that the reader can make his or her own mind on what to feel or think.
Overall, i would highly recommend reading this book. The big themes that are explored, are braided with smaller motives, where every little detail, every action has some meaning. It is one of those books, where even after you finish reading it, your brain will still wonder and continue exploring the ideas and emotions within the story.