Finally, A New Literary Recommendation

Hello again, theoretical Unwind readers. 

As the semester comes to a close, I’m going to do something I haven’t done in a while–actually write about a book.  As you (likely don’t) know, I’ve largely written about bad films and other miscellaneous nonsense over the past few weeks.  But I’ve decided, in honor of my dwindling time here at Unwind, to actually do what I was hired to do instead of ramble on about nothing.  So, with that, I’d like to jump right in with the incredible Never Let Me Go by the Japanese-English novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.

Never Let Me Go is pretty rare, in that it is simultaneously gripping and beautiful.  It’s definitely a page-turner, but make no mistake:  it’s not a thriller (it is, however, a dystopian sci-fi novel, but in the most literary way imaginable.  You won’t find aliens and space travel here, but a more realistic world gone slightly awry).  It’s still a complex, contemplative novel that touches on a lot of controversial issues.  The novel is also pretty unsettling when you finally realize what’s going on (which I refuse to reveal here.  You’ll have to read the book to find out the novel’s big secret).

The novel’s protagonist, the quite unreliable Kathy H., is a carer and has been for eleven years (the details of her occupation would only ruin the novel’s big secret–from the beginning, you’re in the dark about what a carer really is until it is revealed, albeit without spectacle.  Still, the lack of a huge and suspenseful revelation makes the truth even more disturbing).  She is among many who grew up at Hailsham, an unusual boarding school in the English countryside.  Several “guardians”–teacher-like figures, which act as the children’s only substantive parental figures–heavily immerse Kathy H. and the other students in arts education.  There is seemingly no future in store for the students other than to ultimately leave Hailsham and become a carer.  However, things end up being a bit more sinister than they seem.

Ishiguro is a great writer who crafts believable characters that you really find yourself caring for (this is a quite delightful pun in the context of this novel.  You’re welcome).  The story is told from Kathy’s point of view and, as a result, the writing is quite conversational, but still very effective and often quite striking.  Despite being nearly 300 pages, it’s a quick read.  You’d be doing yourself a complete and utter disservice by passing over this one.

So add it to your summer reading lists, lest I be forced to track you down and put it on your list myself.  And I will.

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