Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Read: 21 March, 2012

I watched the movie a few days after my son was born, while I was still riding the hormonal high and at the peak of my weepiness. Because of this, it’s hard to say just how much of the movie’s awesome was because of how awesome the movie was, and how much was enhanced by my emotional state. Regardless, I feel confident in saying that if you haven’t watched the movie yet, do so as soon as you get the chance.

I was so enchanted by the movie that I decided to pick up the book and give it a try.

I have to say that the movie did an amazing job of capturing the book, and of translating them into the silver screen format. But still, I found the two to be very different. The movie is, primarily, a love story. It’s about the love shared by Tommy and Kathy, and the sense that time is running out for them. Kathy’s monologue at the end makes this focus quite clear.

The book, on the other hand, seems to focus more on the characters and their growth, which is continually undercut by the reminder of their eventual donation. I couldn’t help but feel that Ishiguro was commenting on the way that we, generally, refuse to talk to our children about death and the urgency of living well. He’s highlighted the problem by speeding up the timeline, but that’s about it. Perhaps the most striking element of both the book and the movie is just how normal Kathy and her friends are, which is quite different from the norm in the dystopian genre.

I did enjoy the book, and I was impressed by the skill with which Ishiguro smashed many of the conventions of the science fiction / dystopia genres, but this is one instance where I’m tempted to say that the book has little to add that the movie doesn’t convey. And while there’s a lot of value in Ishiguro’s depth and the slow pace at which he covers his topic, I don’t feel like anything important was lost in the transference to the movie format and, if anything, the story may have benefited from conciseness of the format.

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