To Go: 68
31. Mercy — Jodi Picoult
32. Never Let Me Go — Kazuo Ishiguro
In Kazuo Ishiguro’s gothic novel, Never Let Me Go, all diseases have been made curable by the creation of clones: humans genetically engineered for the sole purpose of donating their vital organs to the ill. And though some, like the three main characters Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy, are privileged enough to grow up in “schools” like Hailsham, where they experience a childhood similar to that of regular humans, they never fight their fate. Their short adult life is spent first caring for donors, and then donating until “completion” (i.e. death).
Let me just say that I really think the idea is great. It’s basically a fictionalized morals and ethics debate — what would happen if cloning were to be really worked on and perfected? What would we do with it? And what would be the pros and cons? Those types of novels are always really interesting and thought-provoking.
However, despite the interesting concept, the book (much like its movie counterpart) fell flat. Though the plot did move linearly, it felt like a real flatline: there were no moments that I could easily define as climactic; the story just sort of moved in a rather boring and uneventful way. The three protagonists, though semi-fleshed out, were similarly dull — they each had about one defining character trait, but that was about it.
At first I found Kathy’s narration to be rather refreshing — the way she relayed information was sort of childish and almost endearing. By mid-book, I’d changed my tune completely: it almost read like a ninth-grade essay, and was grating on my last nerve. Essentially, Kathy spent the majority of the book saying “here is the point I’m making, and now I’ll give you an example to back it up.” (Sadly, she really did say things similar to “this will illustrate the point I’m trying to make.”) But, like a ninth-grade essay, she often deviated so far from her point, and her example, that it really read like someone with no coherent thought process. It was like “here’s my point, and my example, but wait a minute — this is also an interesting, if not completely unrelated, anecdote. Oh, and here’s another one…what was I saying, again?” I often found myself lost in a story within a story within a story within the original point-and-example; naturally, the effect was dizzying and rather unpleasant.
I’ve read plenty of praise for this book, but I really don’t understand the hype; the prose itself is flawless, and the idea is golden, but the execution is poor, the story bland and not entirely memorable.
Next book: The Book of Spells — Kate Brian