Tag Archives: 1001 books

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go

Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)

ISBN: 9780676977110

Never Let Me Go is the story of three characters who grew up together in a school in the English countryside. While the era in which the book is set is unclear, presumably it is either the future, or an alternative idea of modern-day. This boarding school is home to a special group of ‘students’ and the story of their schooldays and future is slowly told through one of these students, Kathy.

The plot is captivating and is slowly revealed over the course of the book – slowly enough to keep you guessing, but not so slowly as to make it confusing. In many ways, this book reminded me a lot of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, although it is difficult to discuss that further without spoilers. It is an intriguing story that raises certain questions. While the students understand what is expected of them, the details of the situation are kept from them. When these details are revealed later in the book, the question is raised as to whether sometimes it is better not to know the whole truth. As somewhat of a control-freak myself, I like to be well-informed, regardless of the nature of that information, so I can be prepared. However, the argument here is that had these students known the whole truth regarding their lives and their fate, their perspective would have changed, and their happy memories may not have existed. I thought this was fascinating and an interesting discussion point in the book.  I guess it’s the same question that the advance in genetics is bringing to the forefront: would you like to know how or when you are going to die? If you knew you were going to die at a certain time or in a certain way, wouldn’t that change your life dramatically, and potentially detrimentally. I think ignorance sometimes is bliss.

The plot is excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story is written in the first person singular, and there were times when the prose got in the way of the story for me. The narrative is in an informal, conversational, almost confiding, style but there was occasionally some slopping linking, e.g. “But that’s not really what I want to talk about now…” or “All this about Miss Geraldine reminds me of something that happened about 3 years later…”. I think the informality of these sentences stood out for me against the rest of the writing, and interrupted my reading. I haven’t read many stories written in the first person singular so maybe I just don’t like this style. Anyway, it’s a minor point and does not detract from my recommendation that you should read this book.

This is my first book by Ishiguro, but I don’t think it will be my last. I have several other books of his on my TBR list (Remains of the Day, The Unconsoled, An Artisit of the Floating World, A Pale View of the Hills). Any recommendations?

4 stars out of 5.

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Welcome to Literarytangent!

Hello to all you wonderful people who are kind enough to visit the first post of my blogging ‘career’. Starting this blog has become my (only) New Year’s resolution for 2012. I am a newcomer to the book blogging community, having only found out they existed 6 months ago. However, having armed myself with the right tools (aka Google Reader), I am now hooked! I am certainly nervous about the amount of work involved in maintaining a blog, but I’m keen to find a way to forge more connections with other avid readers. My aim initially is a post a week.  We’ll see how that evolves.

So, do I read the sort of books you like? Well, my ‘go-to’ genres generally include literary fiction and classics, although I’ve been experimenting with some YA, historical fiction, and even a little Sci-Fi, on the recommendation of some of my favourite blogs.  Having spent the last ten years working to meet my career goals, I feel behind in my reading. I will therefore be reading both back-dated and more recently published books. As a disclaimer: I am completely ignorant in literary technique and therefore my reviews (ramblings) will focus only on my personal thoughts and emotions while reading. While I hope I can encourage you to read the books I enjoy, I urge you to seek other opinions before dismissing a book I dislike. I truly believe that sometimes those mismatches are as much to do with me as they are with the book.

What makes this blog different from other book blogs? Well, I can’t compete with the many other book blogs in terms of eloquently written or prolific book reviews. What I hope to offer is some of the story around the books. I believe in lifelong learning but need inspiration to research a subject further. Fiction books often provide that inspiration for me. I hope to share the results of some of my ‘literary tangents’ (see what I did there?!) as they happen.

Matt Banks / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To try to give this blogging attempt some structure, I’ve decided to sign up for a couple of reading challenges. The challenge that inspired me to finally commit to this endeavour was the Reading Shakespeare challenge, bravely orchestrated by Risa, of the blog Breadcrumb Reads. The aim is to read 12 Shakespeare plays during 2012, one per month. I’m also going to take this opportunity to learn a little more about William Shakespeare himself, and the time in which he lived. Conveniently, Allie, of A Literary Odyssey, is holding a Shakespeare reading month in January so I plan to double-dip on my January reading!

While the Bard will hopefully feature often on this blog over the next year, it will certainly be far from my only reading/blogging. Given my aspiration of one post per week, I have also signed up for the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge, hosted by Robin of My Two Blessings. I have never kept track of my reading before so I’m assuming that 52 books/year is doable. We’ll soon find out!

Over the last 6 months, I have also been trying to pick books from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, in order to expand my reading. I have found some great books by using this list that I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. I’ll highlight those books as I mention them.

I am anticipating that this will be a steep learning curve, and I thank you for your patience while I figure it out. If you see something you dislike, or have some suggestions for improvements, please leave me a comment or send me an email (literarytangent@gmail.com). While I hope this blog will add to my reading experience, the main aim is to reach out and discuss books with people like you. I want to make this a place you enjoy visiting.

I can’t wait for 2012!! Happy Reading!

– Katie –

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