Books In The Wild

Books In The Wild
1. to share and explore books with those we know and those we haven't yet met.
2. to explore the journey a book takes us on.
3. to release books in to the wild.

27 July 2012

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro

'Never Let Me Go', a quiet unassuming story, tackles issues of ethics and morality in a way that leaches into your brain and gently gnaws away. I read it recently for a book club where opinions were greatly divided, some thinking it could have been written on the back of a stamp, others fascinated by the world it portrayed. I fell into the fascinated camp, caught up in how this turn of events could become a normal part of life, accepted and unchallenged by the population at large. There are no big bangs or fast paced action but several weeks after reading it I'm still mulling it over in my mind and the questions it raises over what it means to be human.

The story develops with a slow drip feed of revelations, the ground gently prepared for shocking facts so that they become absorbed into normality. This is the way it is. This is how it will always be. Everything is fine. It is a world of acceptance, of making the best of what you have, not railing against what you haven't. Simple things are unbearably precious and possessions are few. There is tenderness, love and carefully reined in hope, but little questioning or rebellion as the characters grow up and discover their place in the world.

The world of 'Never Let Me Go' appears bare of the communication technology so prevalent today. The world Ishiguro portrays is ours, but ours which has taken a slightly different course. It follows the advancement of different technology, where the science of Dolly the sheep is exploited to the nth degree, rather than limited to acres of beefburger meat in a lab. As I read the book, I wondered if the acceptance of their destiny would have been so complete if communication technology had infiltrated this world. Would it have provided a rallying point or pricked the consciousness of mankind? Or would it have been the same - atrocities occur, are normalised and ignored. People accept their lot and carry on as best they can, focussing on what is immediately important.

The story is an ancient one that has tracked throughout our history. That of segregation and the perceived right of some to treat others as lesser beings, as commodities. The fact that the humanity of the Hailsham students is doubted by 'normal' people is chilling. Who are the more humane? Those who do their 'duty' with dignity, or those that look in revulsion at their very means of survival and deny them a soul?

Only after finishing the book did the true horror hit home. The placid narration of the memoir lulls you into a false acceptance, and the holes in Kathy's knowledge allow things to go unchallenged by the reader. It is only after having read it that my brain started filling in the gaps and started worrying at what had been left unsaid, raising far more questions than it answered. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, it became appallingly obvious that technology had exceeded humanity.

Tell me what you thought of the book. I'd be really interested to know.

'Never Let Me Go' was the fifth release for 'Books in the Wild'.

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