NEVER LET ME GO

NEVER LET ME GOAuthor: KAZUO ISHIGURO

Genre: Dystopian, Adult Fiction

Publication: November 4th 2010 by Faber and Faber (first published 2005)

“When I watched you dancing that day, I saw something else. I saw a new world coming rapidly. More scientific, efficient, yes. More cures for the old sicknesses. Very good. But a harsh, cruel world. And I saw a little girl, her eyes tightly closed, holding to her breast the old kind world, one that she knew in her heart could not remain, and she was holding it and pleading, never to let her go…. I saw you and it broke my heart. And I’ve never forgotten.”

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.

Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.

MY THOUGHTS

Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing voice was straight forward yet hauntingly beautiful. I fell in love with the book even though I don’t really like the characters and that was all because the author’s prose was so heart-wrenching and so nostalgic. And it hit a part of my heart that really digs this kind of prose. Especially since Never Let Me Go made me cry and it even haunts me in my sleep.

Never Let Me Go is the type of book that’s hard to put down. Even though I don’t have any idea what I’m reading about at the beginning, I keep on turning the pages. The story was like a jigsaw puzzle that gradually takes shape as I read. I believe it was the power of Ishiguro’s writing that kept my attention. After all, the story, the air around it, was really disturbing. The characters seems to be normal people yet I can feel that they were different. It was in the way Kathy narrates the story, in the way the students act, in the way they were brought up in Hailsham, in the way the guardians treat them.

It took me up to the second part of the story to figure out what bothers me while reading the book. It’s because the characters felt so… inhuman. That even though they talk about friendship, relationships, sex and love, I feel that something is lacking. Like the way they talk and act feels mechanical. I learned halfway that it was because they were clones. And that they were created to become organ donors to cure sickness.

It was really tragic, that they could not do anything to change their destiny. It was so heart-wrenching, that feeling of helplessness and acceptance of their role in life. So at the end, when Tommy screamed his heart out after they learned about the truth, I really cried.

But as I have said, I don’t really like the characters. Especially Ruth. I hate her until the end. I really didn’t believe in their “deep” friendship because I felt like they kept on betraying one another since they were children until they were already adults. Even that feeling of “love”. I really didn’t feel it. So when “madame” asked Kathy and Tommy at the last few chapters about how they were sure they are in love, it made me nod to myself because I really didn’t feel the love. Anyway, they just lack something. I don’t know if the author really created his characters that way because after all, they were clones and they are not really humans with souls and real emotions. I have no way of knowing. But I was drawn in by the cruelty of the world they were living in and I was able to get what the author was trying to impart to his readers. Most of all, I really cried at the end where I found one of my favorite passages in the whole book, where I finally felt the LOVE:

“I stood there, looking at that strange rubbish, feeling the wind coming across those empty fields, that I started to imagine just a little fantasy thing, because this was Norfolk after all, and it was only a couple of weeks since I’d lost him. I was thinking about the rubbish, the flapping plastic in the branches, the shore-line of odd stuff caught along the fencing, and I half-closed my eyes and imagined this was the spot where everything I’d ever lost since my childhood had washed up, and I was now standing here in front of it, and if I waited long enough, a tiny figure would appear on the horizon across the field, and gradually get larger until I’d see it was Tommy, and he’d wave, maybe even call.”

MY RATING

4 stars

KIELI volume 1: The Dead Sleep In The Wilderness

KIELI volume 1

Author: Yukako Kabei

Genre: Japanese Light Novel, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Ghosts

Publication: July 14th 2009 by Yen Press (first published in Japan January 1st 2003)

“Right now, my life’s generally not so bad, so don’t worry about me. I enjoy what I can wherever I am, and I have someone who’s making my life good. But… I’m fed up with it already. Just imagine, every single person I meet up with dies, leaving me behind.”

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

Kieli is a reclusive girl isolated by her ability to see ghosts. Her only friend is her “roommate,” Becca, the precocious spirit of a former student still residing in Kieli’s dorm. Everything in Kieli’s life changes suddenly when the girls meet the handsome but distant Harvey who, like Kieli, can see ghosts. He also turns out to be one of the legendary Undying, an immortal soldier bred for war now being hunted by the Church. When Kieli joins Harvey on a pilgrimage to lay to rest the spirit of a corporal possessing an old radio, as unlikely as it seems, she feels she may have finally found a place where she belongs in the world. And in Kieli, Harvey may have found a reason to live again.

MY THOUGHTS

The story is set in a fictional planet different from ours. A planet where the ruler is an institution they call the Church. It was said that the first people of the planet were saints from a mother planet who came riding a huge spaceship. Many years ago, the planet was progressive because of the high abundance of energy source. But then a war happened. The energy sources dried out. The planet was on the brink of destruction. To end the war, the Church invented the Undying – the immortal soldiers. They were the tools to finish all the soldiers. They killed mercilessly. But when the war ended, the Church didn’t have any much use for them anymore so they began to hunt them. The history of the war was even changed. Making them the villains. The Demons of War. The scapegoat.

Many years later, the story began with Kieli, a teenage girl who can see ghosts. She can even see the memories of the spirits she comes in contact with. Before the colonization week – a long holiday in their planet – she met Harvey who she later learned was an Undying. She also met Corporal, a spirit inside an old radio. The adventure began when Kieli joined Harvey in a journey to bring Corporal’s spirit to where his remains were.

Being a light novel, the story was fast paced. There seems to be something happening in every page and I like it that way. This volume was full of adventures, ghosts and action. The world building was not rushed but I can easily imagine the world the characters were living in. But what I love most about this book is the deep history behind the story. Especially Harvey’s past and his connection to the Corporal. I can feel that there are still many revelations about their planet in the next volumes of this book.

I also love the vintage, nostalgic feel of KIELI. It was beautifully written and heart-wrenching. I like the concept of the Undying. I love Harvey as well as the sorrowful vibe I can feel just by reading about him. I also like Kieli who, thankfully, was not the annoying type of heroine. There were many times that I felt a sting in my eyes while reading. It was a tragic story of a dystopian society. Of an outcast girl who can only make friends with the dead. Of a soldier who was tired of seeing all the people he cared for growing old while he still looks the same. And even though I have my doubts, I wish deep in my heart that this story will have a happy ending. That Harvey, in his long immortal life, could someday find the happiness he so much deserves. There are still a lot of volumes to go, though. So I’m still not sure. But what I am sure of is that out of the few Japanese light novels I’ve encountered so far, Kieli is one of my favorites.

MY RATING

5 stars