An Absorbing, Disturbing Read
review by Maryom
An unforgettable story of love, friendship and the fragility of life.
Kathy, Ruth and Tommy grew up together at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic school deep in the English countryside with a dreadful secret at its heart. Now thirty-one, Kathy attempts to come to terms with her childhood at Hailsham and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world.
Unusually, I'm quoting the synopsis from the back of the book as I'm not sure how to write about this book without giving away all of the plot.
Warning - plot spoilers
The story is told from the point of view of Kathy, a carer for donors, helping them in their recovery and preparing them for the next one. It slowly becomes apparent that these people are not donors by choice but were bred ( via cloning) with this specific aim in view. Never Let Me Go is a moving all-too-human love triangle set against a backdrop of scientific manipulation and the chilling inevitability of what will happen when these young people have outlived their usefulness.
Set in an alternative England where cloning of people for harvesting bodyparts seems to have become a norm, it raises questions about what exactly makes us human, about the extremes that medical science can go to and where it should stop, what happens when cloning experiments move from the lab to the real world. With the cloning of sheep and the deliberate choosing of a child's sex for medical donation being high in the news these days, this book is a chilling warning of where such concepts could lead.
It seems rather a leap for the author probably best known for Remains Of The Day to take on something rather 'sci-fi' but it works. It reminded me very much, in my geeky way, of Blade Runner and the plight of the replicants, trying to achieve a 'human' status and outlive their termination dates. With the difference that replicants were brought to life fully grown with implanted memories but here embryos have been cloned and grown up 'normally' as children, maturing into teens and young adults - till their function of donating catches up with them.
An absorbing, disturbing read about what the future may hold.
Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Faber and Faber
Genre - Adult fiction, science fiction
Buy Never Let Me Go from Amazon