I have always been very candid about how fortunate I feel that I connected with really creative friends in college who exposed me to subcultures I may not have stumbled upon on my own. During my sophomore year, one of my closest college friends showed me a ton of super powerful films I had never heard of, and Never Let Me Go was one of them. At the time, I didn't know it was based on a book, and years later when I kept seeing it on lists of power, I decided to dive into it since I didn't remember the meat of the story, only that it was amazing. Best decision!
The story follows three friends, in an alternate or post world, where a special bread of humans are created to donate their organs to others. The three characters we get to know, were raised in a private community where they studied and created art, called Hailsham. The story really follows the youth of these students, their development of relationships, perspective on the world, and life outcome of each individual. It echoes a dystopian society, but in a really selective way; a few times I even wondered if this was based on a specific cult area that was actually existing and I just didn't know about it. Alas, it is fictional, but really haunting and alarming. There is a beautiful and tragic understory (or main theme of the story, depending on how you look at it) about a lost love, or love that didn't happen, that sucked me in so hard and broke my heart.
One of my favorite things about reading is the ability to put to words really big emotions. This book was drenched in melancholy and a longing for a life that didn't unfold. So many beautiful passages that were explained so obviously, I was marking all over the book.
“I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it's just too much. The current's too strong. They've got to let go, drift apart. That's how it is with us. It's a shame, Kath, because we've loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can't stay together forever.” ― Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
This book really drew we back to middle school years, such a weird and tragic time for everyone (half sarcasm, half completely serious) and the power of culture and fitting in vs. questioning ideas and sense of self. While the characters in this book didn't come from a family unit and were raised together, yet alone, there is such an interesting sense of 'nurture vs. nature' that I can't stop thinking about after I finished it. While there was such detail about this fictional alternate they lived in, there were also very vague spaces about why things are how they are, which I loved. Not drawing in all the details sometimes frustrates me, especially in 'science fiction' settings, but this story really touches several genres.
This book is at the top of every holiday 'book gift list' I am giving to those I love and that love to read. It is such a terrific read for melancholy, lost love, distracting from your current world, feeling like all you do is give to others, youth culture, and pretty much every single moment in life. YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK! Don't watch the trailer and judge it, painting your own world within this is a much better option. Trust me on this one, guys.