Never Let Me Go Book Analysis & Summary
I read the Klara and the Sun before Never Let Me Go but this book made me understand what Kazuo Ishiguro all about. His stories are not about revolting and rebelling but accepting and experiencing.
Many novels I have read has shown the story of the Hero being born and these stories ends with the ends of villain’s era. For example, Harry Potter. It starts with Harry – a kid who will win the fight for the good. Another example is Hunger Games. It starts with Katniss Everdeen starting the rebellion by attempting the suicide at the games.
Divergent, Maze Runner, LotR and countless other stories are about overcoming your fear and winning it.
But what about the time and people who born into the suffering, accepts it and dies within it with out ever seeing any alternative in their life. For them, the pain is the default setting and is not even considered pain. Until they see an alternative.
One example of similar situation is the antagonist of The Mortal Instrument series, Sebastian Verlac. He was the experiment child made out of demon and angel blood. What comes out is the boy whose blood was always burning as demon and angel blood does not play together nicely. So a person always lived in the certain condition get accustomed to it so much that they would not noticed how bad it is unless there is something to compare to.
But let’s get back to Never Let Me Go. First summary.
Never Let Me Go Book Summary
The story is about students in boarding school. They do the typical school things like having crush, sex, playing and bullying each other. However, they are not allowed to dream of a career or future. As the story continues, we gradually find out that they are cloned for organ harvesting. These students are not considered humans but machines to make the organs.
Kathy is the narrator of the story. Tommy and Ruth is her friends. Tommy and Ruth are also dating. Their boarding school, Hailsham, is the best in the world. Other schools and institutions for organ harvesting clones are much worse and we do not see them. The reaction of other clones on hearing about the Hailsham kids is enough to make you realize that Hailsham is elite place and only the privilege one happens to be there.
While this is also subtly given, it is not the plot of the story. As I said earlier, this is all is what they all accepted and come to terms with. They knew they are made for the harvesting and will die one organ at a time. The story is about their friendship, things they did, jealousy — we can say it is any other teenage drama in a terrible setting. What make is so good Kazuo’s detailed writing of person’s psych.
In the end, it is revealed that Hailsham university was an experiment to show the world that these clones are more than just clones. A campaign by activist group to make the life & condition better for the kids. But like any activist group, they need funding, and organization give them the money till they can have benefit from it.
The practice is similar to the activists group trying to give better life to immigrants. Some organizations will support them till there is limelight in it. Then the campaign will be over. Winning the peace prizes and recognition, while the kids lives remain same. Beside the few selected one at whom they ran the campaign.
Well, this story open up so many questions, which I will try to explore in the next section.
Never Let Me Go Book Analysis
Why does not they escape?
It was so frustrating to read it all from Kath PoV. The book also does not give any reason that why they don’t run away or refuse to give their organs. There is no answer to it and we can speculate.
They can accidently harm themselves to make their organs harmful to prevent the donation process. But no one does it. They all take it without any resistance.
I have few ideas to answer.
Idea #1 They have come to terms with their reality and does not do anything to go against it. Basically, this is the story of those people who do not do anything in the face challenge and accept their fate. It is weird to read it, but it is also a part of daily life which we often does not see in the media because it is not as glamorize and we do not want to relate with it. No one would like to say that they will not revolt in the certain condition. But when those condition happens we do not se much revolution. The story is about side characters, not protagonists who is planning a rebellion some where in this book.
Idea #2 The kids are indoctrinated from their childhoods to believe their fate. This happen all around us. Parents prepare us for something and we can never go against it in our lives. There are some who does but most of accept it. Biggest example is the religion. The biggest source of religion spreading is the referral from the parents. Parents do have great advantage to promote as religion ensures they get their due authority from the kids if the kids are religious. Similarly, gradually, these kids were introduced to their fate and they knew it like a life. This is what it is. In this way, Hailsham school was the worst. Because other schools were not giving the clones any happy moments to compare their lives’ sad moments. Do not give the sweet to the person who is going to spend his entire life eating flour. He will miss it and feel sad about it. Lack of sweet in his life will make the flour a better option.
Idea #3 As they were clones, they might be genetically engineered to become compliant. The same thing was another school was trying, but they were making the superhumans.
Idea #4 There might be something in the Clones that you can identify them by looking or being in their company. We read the story from their PoV so they all looks normal. But if we come to read the PoV of a human there, we might end up seeing that these clones are not humans.
Idea #5 These kids, Ruth, Tommy and Kath were selfish and have their own agendas. By giving them the human emotions, maybe, humans have chained them down to irrational thinking and behaviors’. So they live a normal human life, with all emotions that distracts them to rationally go against the authority.
Whatever the reason, it is good to study why they never revolt to gain an insight into our communities that are not revolting against all the evil that is happening around.
But what it is all about?
The story reflects how if a community begin to see the another community less than human, there is literally nothing they will stop at. There will be no limitation to their exploitation.
In supernatural series, Dean and Sam think of the Demons as non-humane beings. They torture them all the time and do whatever they like to do with them, as for them they are not worthy of any compassion. Similarly, in the I am Legend, the protagonist sees the survivor people as monsters and keep killing them. Only to find in the end that the majority of the survivor are these monsters and he is the one who is inhumane to them.
Hitler did the same thing. Make your opposition into something else rather than human and every atrocity is fair game then.
What was the boat about?
There is a boat in the book that Ruth, Kathy and Tommy goes to see. Many doners goes to see the boat. The boat signify that at some conscious level, they yearn to leave it all. But these thoughts never turned into sentences or even focal thought. It is in peripheral and that peripheral is also blurred and behind the veil. The frustration of Tommy was clear though, and that what makes him the most human of them all.
Tommy was the oddball in the entire book. He has different opinions, he sucked at traditional art, he was more mature and sympathetic. All these traits makes him different than other clones, and you think he is the faulty piece. But turns out he is the one that most resembled to source and he is the most relatable.
The book is narrated by the clonest character of all three. Kath does not show any resistance, never try to have a way out. Tommy and Ruth has their frustration we see. Ruth is try to manipulate everyone around us to have a chance at deferring. She plays a game. She dreamed of a future and even went a step ahead and start lying about being true.
The narrator is not reliable or we can say that she is the most reliable of them all as others clone would resemble more of the Kath than Ruth or Tommy.
Why not having fun then?
Another question comes poking is that if they know and accepted their fate that they will die soon, then why they never have fun and do things. It was easy of all. We all have limited time here, and still, few of us are having fun. Fun is not what make us human, but the ability to survive boring and exciting part of our lives. Humans are not the strongest, fastest or smartest creature, but still we are the best hunter there and at the top of food chain. Our ability to walk longer, wait more and stretch the time make us so powerful.
That’s what these clones does. They do small stuff and live a regular human life. The ordinary is the extraordinary.
These are the story of the clone who lived a satisfactory childhood. We can only dream of the unprivileged one. They lived the dream life, but we all are living the dream life of someone.
What can we do!
Review and Questions
I enjoyed reading this book. It offers so much to think and analyze. The language is down and calm – trademark Kazuo. The story narrated through the memories, so you can wonder what is true and what is made up.
All in all, it is a short sci-fi teenage drama with substantial things going at the back. Give it a go.