At first, Never Let Me Go seems as though it will fall under the category of dark academia. The novel is narrated by a 31-year-old Kathy as flashbacks to her days at Hailsham, a prestigious boarding school in England with her friends Ruth and Tommy. As the reader delves deeper into the novel, though, it becomes more and more obvious that something more sinister is going on at this school and in the world of these students.
As Kathy and her fellow students get older, we begin to find clues along with them that Hailsham is not what it seems. We follow Kathy along helplessly as we slowly watch her idyllic world turn into a strange dystopia. Author Kazuo Ishiguro masterfully weaves in hints and foreshadowing that always left me wanting more and make the novel nearly impossible to put down.
Even though we get small inklings from the beginning, such as Kathy talking about how she is now a “carer” and that she assists “donors” at a recovery center, the true shape of the world is revealed tantalizingly slow over the course of the book. The “guardians” that work at Hailsham come across as strict nuns from some strange religion. There is no explanation as to why the children are there. Ishiguro is skilled at the idea of “show not tell.” He reveals things, not by Kathy ever saying them outright, but by having the reader experience them outright.
As each new piece of the puzzle is revealed, I still found myself being left with more questions than answers. Unlike other dystopian novels, it is never revealed why the world in Never Let Me Go is the way it is. The characters never try to fight back against some higher, authoritative power. Rather, it is a compelling look at what makes us human and how our relationships with other people change over time. If you are looking for a satisfying ending in the sense that all of the answers are revealed, then Never Let Me Go is not for you. However, if you do decide to read it, be prepared to not be able to put it down.