Saturday, October 28, 2006

BCOO: Never Let Me Go

Well, I finished Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, yesterday. I have to say, I was pretty disappointed. I wanted another side of this story. I wanted social turmoil, discrimination, and ruthlessness. That was all there, but it remained hidden in the background until the last pages of the book.

What I got was a coming-of-age story about cloned children in a boarding school. By the end, it's revealed that the clones are created from prostitutes and homeless people. Their only purpose is to host organs to be donated to real humans (who then use these organs to cure diseases like cancer). The school where our characters reside is an 'experiment'. The teachers (or guardians, as they're called) believe that clones have souls and would benefit from actual education. We see that the clones really do have souls, because our first person narrator is one of these clones.

But do we really see 'souls'? Sure, we learn they have emotions and dreams. But our characters, at least, are also annoying, childish, and unlikeable. Their grasp of abstract concepts seems very weak. Love in particular seems to elude them, even though they develop relationships and have sex.

So the big question that finally comes around at the end is: is it cruel to raise these clones only to kill them in the end? Do we have the right to control their lives just because we created them?
Great questions. But they are questions that only come with the knowledge we receive at the end of the book. Our interest is (supposed to be) with the main characters of the book: clones who were priviliged and had almost no knowledge of the way they were viewed by the outside world.

In short, Battlestar does it much better. Though the implications and consequences are different, they ask the questions and keep you asking. I found the book boring and sophomoric. All the more so, because there is a great story BEHIND everything that happens in the book. I understand Ishiguro did that for a reason. But it's just not the kind of book I want to read.

Next up: Survivor, by Chuck Palahniuk. A hijacker is alone in the air on the airplane he hijacked, speaking into the black box, telling his story. It's my first Palahniuk book, and I already love it.


Anonymous said...

What do you see when you see a soul?

How do you know that you've seen one?

Amanda said...

That's part of my point. They spend a majority of the end of the novel talking about 'souls'. This is a pet peeve of mine: I think it's an abstract term which bears explanation. The author never describes what he means by that word. And he never goes into depth about the issue.