Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • Hayley

      Downtime for Updates   01/26/2021

      The forum is going to be offline while our new hosts backup and update the site. We'll be back soon and you can check our twitter (@bookclubforum) or the patreon page ( bookclubforum.co.uk is creating a book community | Patreon ) for updates.   See you all soon!  
Kell

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Recommended Posts

IT IS ASSUMED YOU HAVE READ THIS BOOK BEFORE READING THIS THREAD, THEREFORE SPOILER TAGS MAY NOT HAVE BEEN USED IN ORDER TO FASCILITATE EASIER AND MORE OPEN DISCUSSION





Anyone who would like to get hold of a copy of this book and join in the circle - there are quite a few copies available at Green Metropolis

 



Also available at Amazon - via the banner at the top right hand corner please! :blush:

 







Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro:


Kathy, Ruth and Tommy were pupils at Hailsham - an idyllic establishment situated deep in the English countryside. The children there were tenderly sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe they were special, and that their personal welfare was crucial. But for what reason were they really there? It is only years later that Kathy, now aged 31, finally allows herself to yield to the pull of memory. What unfolds is the haunting story of how Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, slowly come to face the truth about their seemingly happy childhoods - and about their futures. Never Let Me Go is a uniquely moving novel, charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of our lives.

 

Some basic questions to consider:

1- Who was your favourite character and why?

2- Was there a particular part you enjoyed/disliked more than the rest?

3- Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

4- Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

5- Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

 

Some more advanced questions to consider / points to discuss (from Sparknotes):

1. Kathy jumps right into telling her story as though we're already familiar with Hailsham and her culture. At which point in the story are you able to start piecing the information together to understand what words like "donation" and "carer" mean? Does the witholding of information make you want to read more, or do you find it frustrating?

2. What does Hailsham stand for in Kathy's life? Compare and contrast how Kathy, Tommy, Ruth, Chrissie and Rodney view Hailsham, and what it represents in their lives.

3. Why do you think Hailsham's guardians placed such an emphasis on creating?

4. How do you think the novel would be different if narrated from the point of view of Tommy, Ruth, Miss Emily or Madame? What characteristics of the novel are unique to Kathy's point of view and voice?

5. What are some of Ruth�s most striking character traits? How might her social behavior, at Hailsham and later at the Cottages, be explained? Why does she seek her �possible� so earnestly? Why do you think Ruth is attracted to a relationship with Tommy?

6. Compare student life at Hailsham to your own school experience, or that of children in your life right now. What aspects are common to the imaginary world of Hailsham and your own? What is different?

7. How does the story change after Kathy and Tommy visit Madame and Miss Emily to request a deferral? What is revealed in their conversation, and how does your experience of the story change?

8. Why does Tommy draw imaginary animals in miniature? Why does he continue to work on them even after he learns that there will be no deferral?

9. When Madame sees Kathy dancing to the song on the Judy Bridgewater tape, we learn Kathy's interpretation of what she thinks Madame must be thinking. Why did you think Madame was crying? When Madame recalls this incident later from her own perspective, did it match your expectations?

10. What is the significance of "Never Let Me Go" as Kathy's song, the title of the book, and in the last few pages of the novel?

11. After their visit to Miss Emily and Madame, Kathy tells Tommy that his fits of rage might be explained by the fact that �at some level you always knew." How much did the students at Hailsham know while they were there? Do you think Tommy knew more than the others?

12. Does the novel take a moral or ethical position on cloning, or does it just open a dialog? What response did it evoke from you? What implications are there for our own society?

13. Miss Emily believed that hiding the truth from the Hailsham students was best, while Miss Lucy wanted to make the students more aware of their future. Which method do you agree with and why?

14. Why do Miss Emile and Madame feel revulsion towards the students at Hailsham? When Tommy and Kathy visit them in Part III, does this revulsion conflict with the morals that the the two guardians explain themselves as having?

15. Many reviews refer to Never Let Me Go as a science fiction novel. What genre would you classify it as?

16. Were you expecting a happy ending to the novel? When Tommy and Kathy don't get their deferral and instead are resigned to their fate, are you surprised? How would your experience of the novel change if there had been a happy ending instead?



(You do not have to answer all, or indeed, any, of these questions, they are meant only as points for you to perhaps mull over as you read, and provoke more discussion. Please feel free to ask and answer any questions that come up as you read.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, has anyone read this yet? I'm currently re-reading it (read it a few years back) and enjoying it as much as the first time!

 

I've seen comments from people who thought it was much too slow going and can see how Kath's voice might be annoying/ difficult to follow but I think it actually shows us a lot of how their lives unfolded and how they all came to accept so completely their destiny... I remember the first time I read it I was really shocked at how passive all the students seemed. But now I can see how they came to be that way.

 

Ok, I'm probably not making much sense and it's too late for me to develop but I just wanted to get the discussion going/ see who has read the book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not re-readingit (due to lack of reading time) but I remember parts of this book very vividly.

 

My review HERE.

 

 

I actually liked that the plot took its time unfolding - it meant I got a proper sense of the passage of time for these kids who are, basically, all just marking time till their own deaths.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm doing a re read at the moment.

 

It is such a powerful book, so understated, and I am picking up on a number of things that I hadn't been so aware of the first time around.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a highly unusual novel - it shows complete self-acceptance by the characters - they are all completely resigned to their fate as they have been conditioned to be. It also raises the question of the morality of what is being done to them. Is it amoral to raise people specifically for organ donation if they are alright with it themselves (even if through conditioning)? Or is it amoral anyway? There's also a link there to what happens in My Sister's Keeper, where Anna is born specifically to donate blood, bone marrow, and potentially organs, to her sister, Kate. At what point does it become a crime against humanity? Is it ever right to "play GOd" in this fashion?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is also the mythology that the children create and build upon that I find fascinating. The pursuit of creativity and the Gallery, that is later shown to have been the proof of the children's humanity,

 

Later the sightings and pursuit of 'possibles' brings it's own intrigue - is this a fact that they know to be true, or are 'possibles' another myth?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I just finished re-reading this and I must say I find it difficult to make sense of everything I've felt while reading it... It is so powerful, so disturbing, and yet in a way so 'matter of fact'.

 

The style of the narrative is great for it as it does show just how life is for these children, through small anecdotes and whithout ever really judging the issue or setting a clear line between facts and rumours.

 

I actually liked that the plot took its time unfolding - it meant I got a proper sense of the passage of time for these kids who are, basically, all just marking time till their own deaths.

 

That's what disturbed me most this time, even more than the complete acceptance... Every step of the kid's futures are set out for them and the very aim of their lives is to complete - very expressive term which shows that they are not seen as dying but as fulfilling their task. And yet, mainly because they are hailsham students but not only, they seem to live as if they had a real life in front of them. I mean, there is no sense of rush or of it not being worth bothering living at all. At Hailsham of course they are offered a real childhood (and whatever we might think of the deception and the cost it comes with, it is something invaluable the guardians have been able to secure for them) and encouraged to learn and create as if things werent already set out for them. But even after that, when they are in the cottages they mostly go about their lives, discussing literature and discovering the outside world without seeming to really realise that they are only waiting for the next steps in their 'task'.

 

Some even ask to move on more quickly. Which at first seemed incredibly naive to me - as if they still didn't realise what they were rushing out to - but in a way is the most logical path. If they are marked anyway, why wait?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chimera, I'm reading quite a few reviews on amazon that say it's far too slow, and there's not enough answers. And yet, those of you who have read it find it powerful and under stated. I always find this sort of thing interesting, wondering if those who find it slow are used to plot driven, action books. I found the same thing with The Road - there wasn't a fast moving plot, but that wasn't the point of the book.

 

I think I may have to order this one, and make up my own mind. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think I may have to order this one, and make up my own mind. :D

 

You definitely should! It is very unusual in the way it deals with the subject and is written but is well worth it!

 

I also saw those reviews on Amazon, and a few on here as well if I remember correctly. I think the two main objections were it was too slow and not realistic enough.

 

- It is true that not much happens in terms of "events" and the narrative can be seen as slow winding... but there is so much content behind it that I really didn't find it was a problem. It's not so much about 'what's going to happen', but rather 'what is going on (at first)' and 'how is this working? how are they dealing with it? what is everyone thinking?' And the characters are really endearing once you get to know them.

 

I'm not sure what factor makes someone like it or not... I love it but I had a lot of trouble with A complicated Kindness which I realised as I re-read this is written in a very similar way... Maybe it's whether or not you get caught up in the voice of the narrator?

 

- There's no point looking for realism in this novel, it's definitely not meant to take a scientific stance. It's just something else.

 

Let us know if you do pick it up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought the book last year having read comments about it on another forum. In each instance the posters said just how powerful and moving this book was, and how

they each had not been able to shake the feeling it had left with them .

 

It is wonderfully paced, a little more revealed just at the moment where you are wondering if the story is actually going anywhere. You end up horrified and fascinated by the subtleties of emotion, by the resignation of those involved, and by the often only inferred back story to events.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I actually liked that the plot took its time unfolding - it meant I got a proper sense of the passage of time for these kids who are, basically, all just marking time till their own deaths.

 

I totally agree - I also liked this very much. When I started reading this book I didn't know at all what was expecting me but I soon realised that it was s.th. different. It really took some time until I got an idea about what was meant with donations. First, I was in doubt whether I was really on the right track - and this is what kept me reading on because it was so unusual and so unbelievable.

 

To be honest, my first thought was that I was misinterpreting the sense of donation because I am no native speaker :roll: but I soon realised that this wasn't the case.

 

I kind of see the time the plot took for unfolding as a parallel to the time I needed to understand what was going on there. And I think it's was similar for Kathy, Tommy and the others.

 

I am just wondering about the normal people around them. What do they think about the donors and carers? Do they really know what is going on there? Are they in contact with them in one way or another? I mean - they must be as also donors need to go shopping etc. And where are the carers living? In a normal neighbourhood? What do their neighbours know and think about them? There are really so many questions and I'd really like to know the point of view of normal people.

 

I am really glad that this book was voted for here because I don't think I would have read it otherwise. So thanks for that!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am just wondering about the normal people around them. What do they think about the donors and carers? Do they really know what is going on there? Are they in contact with them in one way or another? I mean - they must be as also donors need to go shopping etc. And where are the carers living? In a normal neighbourhood? What do their neighbours know and think about them? There are really so many questions and I'd really like to know the point of view of normal people.

 

I think they are in contact but don't know who's what... At one point, when they are in norfolk, Kathy talks about them visiting an art gallery and the owner giving them a whole talk on the artist. She mentions that the owner mistook them for art students and probably wouldnt have bothered if she had known who they were... I think this must be pretty typical of the way things work for 'normal people'. After all there's nothing indicating at first glance who's a clone and who isn't.

 

And miss emily explains at the end that people really dont want to think about where donations come from: they'd prefer to think that they grew in a tube. So I think they dont go looking for donors, they just try to imagine that they don't exist.

 

I am really glad that this book was voted for here because I don't think I would have read it otherwise. So thanks for that!

 

That's great as one of the aim of the reading circles is to encourage people to branch out! Glad you enjoyed it so much! :roll:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am just wondering about the normal people around them. What do they think about the donors and carers? Do they really know what is going on there?

 

I am left with that uncomfortable feeling that if the donors and carers don't kick up a fuss about their situation, then neither will normal people.

 

It brings a creeping sensation of disgust, that people could allow this situation to develop as it clearly did. In conversation with Miss Emily however, you can start to imagine not only how, but why keeping it at a distance became a necessity. As she says,

Here was the world, requiring students to donate.

While that remained the case, there would always be a barrier

against seeing you as properly human.

 

I want to believe that there would exist in our society a force for change, a grouping of like minded people who would work to halt this cloning for parts.

 

Miss Emily, when talking to Kathy and Tommy in her home, explains the evolution of this general social acceptance for cloning; how we needed cures for diseases, and having found a way of resolving this could not return to the time before readily available replacement body parts.

 

One aspect I felt pulled toward was the extent to which people are cloned. Does everyone have a clone ready and waiting? Or are only a select number entitled, through wealth or standing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What does everyone think about the ethics of cloning in general? Do you think we're anywhere near this kind of scenario as a reality? Is there any actual merit in having biologically engineered donor matches, whether in this way or grown outwith a host body? If this kind of cloning were to become a reality, would it be strictly for those who could afford it, or should it be made available for anyone who needs it (e.g. on NHS)?

 

Do you think the author agrees with cloning? Is this novel a vision of a viable future, or a stark warning against it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that the line that should be drawn for cloning is when a being is sentient, and I think that is a question that Ishiguro is so cleverly getting across in the text - how can a society allow sentient beings to be bred for their body parts?

 

Were Madame and Miss Emily just championing fairer treatment for the cloned generations or were they pushing for it's end when they tried to prove the souls in these clones?

 

I would be happy to receive a body part grown in a test tube if I so needed, but a part grown for me in my cloned self? I hope that I would value the soul of any clone over the physical need for a cure. A absolute biological match would be the dream donation, but not from a being.

 

As far as availability of cloned donations, as with many of life's realities, I think the technology would favour the rich first, before an eventual filtering to the poorer. We have that now, where the poor in many countries sell their kidneys to a person willing to pay.

 

There are lines across which we as a society should not step, but I believe it is a line we will reach before we have decided where we want the line to actually be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You definitely should! It is very unusual in the way it deals with the subject and is written but is well worth it!

 

I also saw those reviews on Amazon, and a few on here as well if I remember correctly. I think the two main objections were it was too slow and not realistic enough.

 

- It is true that not much happens in terms of "events" and the narrative can be seen as slow winding... but there is so much content behind it that I really didn't find it was a problem. It's not so much about 'what's going to happen', but rather 'what is going on (at first)' and 'how is this working? how are they dealing with it? what is everyone thinking?' And the characters are really endearing once you get to know them.

 

I'm not sure what factor makes someone like it or not... I love it but I had a lot of trouble with A complicated Kindness which I realised as I re-read this is written in a very similar way... Maybe it's whether or not you get caught up in the voice of the narrator?

 

- There's no point looking for realism in this novel, it's definitely not meant to take a scientific stance. It's just something else.

 

Let us know if you do pick it up!

Hey I'm new here and I'm from Germany!

I read this book too... but for another reason. I'm writing a skilled work for my school about this booK with the topic

 

The individual caught between individual rights and the demands of scientific research in Ishiguro's novel "Never let me go" - An analysis of the protagonist's fate in this future state

 

Now I have got a question, is anybody pleased to help me? I have to present the main character Kathy and her path of life...

Greetings Taff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm trying not to read too many details in the posts yet. I've just started part two.. I can see why it won't suit everyone, but I'm enjoying the way the story is gradually developing. I had a good idea what was happening to the children before I started reading, so I maybe missed the 'shock' of the realisation. It does however, make sense that they would simply accept their future, and their actual being, as it's the way they've been brought up.. for them it's normality, and they haven't been taught to question it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One aspect for me on the acceptance of their fate is that, yes they are brought up in isolation,

but they don't remain so. They leave Hailsham, admittedly to enter a halfway house of a sorts, but they are able to travel around and interact with normal people. Why not question their fate then?

 

 

A thought that also struck me was whether any of the children, entering their diffcult teenage have that rebelliousness (sp) notorious in teens? Yes, Tommy has his moments, but they are hissy fits rather than "Let's get outta here".

 

More questions are raised in this book than are answered. Are the children sterile? If not would they be allowed to procreate? Why is Kathy kept so long as a carer? Is she that good at the job, or has there been no requirement for her 'parts' in that time?

 

Who actually governs them? Are they citizens and therefore answerable to the nation's laws? If not, what are they considered to be, on the occasions they are considered at all?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi! I am also new here and I was never happier than when I saw this Forum. Reading a book without the possibility of discussing it with someone is a very lonely experience.

 

I have just finished reading it so my thoughts are not well organised yet but what I've read from your opinions here helped me a lot.

 

As for the citizenship of our characters, I think that they live in all those places like recovery centres or cottages because they are being kept in isolation from the whole world outside. It may also answer why they don't go through that rebelious phase as seeing no example of such behaviour.

Besides analysing the behaviour of doctors, nurses, Madame at the begining one can easily assume that they are not treated exactly as complete human beings.The fact that the hospital staff behaves different at the fourth donation only proves that they treat them as clones and the source of spare parts and not people. My attention was also drawn to the conditions of Halisham, Cottages or some centres. Even though the descriptions were sometimes quite scarce one can sens the gloomy pictures; there are no luxuries, not to mention dilapidated shelters with no proper heating and leaking roofs.But again, Kath is not that concerned about it as she has no real perspective and comparison with the real world.Although at the end they hear they were given better chance to live than the ones before and after them, is it really the truth? Why did they give the awareness and sensitivity to someone who is anyway doomed? Does it make it easier for them to accept their destiny?

 

If what I wrote is a mess, please forgive me as all my thoughts are yet quite mixed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry I'm a bit late, but I'm so glad that I picked up this book. :friends0: I know some have said that it's not scientific enough, and that not all the questions have been answered, but I think that the reader is put into the place of these children.. they didn't have al the answers, so neither do we. For me, the book was more about their experiences, rather than a scifi book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just bought 'Never Let Me Go', so I will be back with my thoughts :friends0:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I sincerely wish that Keira "Stick Insect" Knightly wasn't involved - she can't act for toffee!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I sincerely wish that Keira "Stick Insect" Knightly wasn't involved - she can't act for toffee!

 

 

No really Kell, say what you mean! :friends0:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×