By Kazuo Ishiguro
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Speculative Fiction, Adult Crossover
Reading Level: 9th grade
Interest Level: 9th-12th grade +
Teaser: Kathy knew that something was odd was about her upbringing. But she never would have guessed that she was a clone!
Summary: Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy are best friends that all live at Halisham House in England. Kathy and Tommy have a special bond, but Ruth gets jealous because she wants Tommy for herself. So she sabotages any time that Kathy and Tommy have together. At Halisham, art and creativity are extremely important and Tommy is not very artistic. He gets annoyed and angry and only Kathy can calm him down. The book time jumps to when Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy are teenagers still living at Halisham. It turns out that they are all clones. Once they decide to move out of the house, they have to either become a “carer” or they have to begin donating their organs. Kathy leaves Halisham to live in the cottages after deciding to become a carer. Later, she reunites with Ruth and Tommy. Ruth apologizes for sabotaging their relationship and Tommy and Kathy admit to loving each other. Soon after, Ruth “completes” (dies) after donating so many of her organs.
Information about the Author: According to Wikipedia, “Kazuo Ishiguro (born 8 November 1954) is a Japanese-British novelist, screenwriter and short story writer. He was born in Nagasaki, Japan; his family moved to England in 1960 when he was five. Ishiguro obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kent in 1978 and his Master’s from the University of East Anglia’s creative-writing course in 1980. Ishiguro is one of the most celebrated contemporary fiction authors in the English-speaking world, having received four Man Booker Prize nominations, and winning the 1989 award for his novel The Remains of the Day. In 2008, The Times ranked Ishiguro 32nd on their list of ‘The 50 greatest British writers since 1945’. His seventh novel, The Buried Giant, was published on 3 March 2015 in both the United States and the United Kingdom.”
Critical Evaluation: I had an issue with how much this book jumped around through time. It begins with Kathy in her 30’s and then it time shifts to different times in the past. It is not in a logical sequence. I had to flip back to the start of the chapter to try to figure out how old they were in a specific scene. Other than that, Ishiguro did a really good job of setting the scene. I liked his descriptions and felt that his writing matched the grace and acceptance that Kathy has through her whole life even though she knows that she will complete eventually.
Curriculum Ties: N/A
Booktalk Ideas: Write down a vivid memory you have from your childhood.
Challenge Issues: Child Abuse, Genetic Manipulation, Violence, Death
Challenge Resources: Rationale for choosing this book (see “Why Did I Pick This”), Engage students and parents in discussions about intellectual freedom, ALA Library Bill of Rights,Challenge Resources from the American Library Association
Why Did I Pick This: I picked this book because I thought it was an interesting science fiction novel that was unexpected. Teens will be drawn in by the mystery and finish it for the romance.
Ishiguro, K. (2006). Never Let Me Go. New York City, NY: Vintage.