This is another book of which I’d already inadvertently seen the film but that didn’t detract from my reading at all – I don’t think knowing the plot or the ending removes much from Never Let Me Go because it’s so well written – and as far as I can remember (it has been quite a few years since I watched the film now) the movie does stay fairly faithful to it – although I did put off reading this for a while because it seems a shame to read a story I already know (which is why I prefer to read books before watching the film). One thing I did take from the film which may have altered my reading slightly if I’d had to pick it up for myself was the behaviour of Ruth (Keira Knightly’s character) – namely that it wasn’t always all that pleasant – maybe if I’d gone into it without that prior knowledge I would have been a bit less harsh on her from the beginning but I’m not sure.
Without wanting to spoil it for you if you don’t have any awareness of the film – the trailer for which I just googled and looks a lot more dated than in my memory ! – Never Let Me Go is set in a parallel present, where the cures for cancer and other diseases have been discovered – with major illnesses cured by donations from specially bred donors. The novel follows the childhoods of some of these donors (or “students”) brought up in a “humane” facility. Narrated by Kathy, who is currently a carer (looking after donors around the country) but soon to finally become a donor herself, we watch as the students navigate their unusual upbringing – I’m not sure that it would be correct to say we see them come to terms with their purpose because none of them ever question it in the first place. It would be a disservice to try and retell the plot any further and I already don’t think I’ve done it justice. One final thing I would like to mention is that this is the fourth novel by Kazuo Ishiguro that I’ve read and each one has so been completely different in terms of plot that I couldn’t begin to compare their narrative styles without having to re read each of them – in each I think the narrative has so perfectly complimented the plot that I haven’t once thought anything typical of the author or started to subconsciously draw comparisons between them – in each case the way the story is being told has matched the content of the novel – which I mean as a compliment.