View Single Post
Old 09-16-2018, 01:09 AM   #10
darryl
Wizard
darryl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.darryl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.darryl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.darryl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.darryl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.darryl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.darryl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.darryl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.darryl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.darryl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.darryl ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
darryl's Avatar
 
Posts: 2,651
Karma: 43347532
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Australia
Device: Kobo Aura H2O, Kindle Oasis, Huwei Ascend Mate 7
Here are my thoughts documented shortly after I completed the book. I am posting this before reading the thoughts of others and perhaps commenting.

The book had its moments, but ultimately I didn't really like it that much. Which was somewhat of a surprise. I enjoyed the first part of the book. The school setting, the special children, the suspense and the underlying mystery were very reminiscent of "The Girl With All The Gifts", an exceptional book. But in the Girl With All The Gifts the major secret is revealed in a very effective manner quite early in the book. The rest of the book explores the consequences of that secret in depth, following a real plot which reaches an ultimately satisfying conclusion. In sharp contrast, Never Let Me Go jealously guards the underlying secret almost until the end, dropping hints throughout the book. We were left to guess at the secret from these hints. I certainly reached the conclusion that the children were clones of some sort quite early. Before the big reveal I was expecting that they were clones kept for particular individuals or compatible groups with replacement organs harvested from them as needed to replace the defective or ageing organs of the original. The actual explanation was far more banal and unsatisfying, lying in some alternate history where by some undisclosed means products harnessed from clones can cure virtually all diseases including cancer. Something beyond our medical science even now.

The resulting society was grotesque. The children, of course, were not treated as people even by law and had few if any rights. I must wonder if the sham in Hailsham is intentional. Because that is what the school was. To raise and educate these children as normal people with the expectation that they were normal people with the rights of normal people, telling them but not telling them of the realities, is arguably neither a moral act nor a charitable one. Did the author intend to question the motives and results of many do-gooders and activists? Because this is what he seems to have done. Miss Emily was trying to do good, but was half committed. It seems she was almost playing a game. Marie-Claude, her companion and perhaps her lover, seems to have been dragged along with her, though felt the futility of it all, wanting little to do with these children and their fate other than in the abstract. At the end, defeated, both Emily and Marie-Claude returned to their own lives, wanting little to do with their former charges, grudgingly giving them a spare hour or two to explain everything. Supervising the moving of a bedside cabinet was more important. A game on one part, real lives on the other. Their treatment of Lucy Wainright who wanted to see the children were fully informed showed clearly that they were not prepared to rock the boat even a little more. Their experiment was intended only to argue for better treatment, not to end the system of cloning. We all live our lives effectively ignoring many injustices which we cannot materially influence, certainly not as individuals. Many of those who do seek to help do not take any real risk themselves. Most volunteers helping in poor African villages return home to continue with their own comfortable lives, having experienced an adventure.

The writing itself was very good, and the character development superb and realistic. I think we probably all know people like Ruth, who was most effectively drawn. The belief of Tommy and Kathy in the possibility of a deferral in the case of true love is very touching and human. I'm not sure to what extent Ruth really believed this. Her major sin was one which she could not truly atone for, but the unlikely chance of a deferral left room for some rationalisation to ease her conscience.

My problem with the book is that essentially nothing happened. There was no real plot, just a series of glimpses into a bleak mostly unexplained world. The characters were just passive participants in that world. The incidents were not about developing any sort of plot but simply about developing their characters. At no point do these characters influence events in any meaningful way. Yes, their interactions such as they are with their dystopian society do raise some interesting issues about human nature. I have little issue with realism. I think that societies have branded people non-human and treated them terribly for far less noble reasons than curing diseases. Such a society can arise far too easily in the right conditions.

I'm not going to quibble that these characters could have run away or joined the resistance. Because that doesn't mean that no one ran away or there was no resistance. Just that these particular people did neither, as I suspect the majority would also do in such a society, which is very sketchily drawn indeed. I regard this book as little more than a character study with some good ideas thrown in.

I should add that I personally don't like literary fiction which consists of endless descriptions of scenery and exquisitely drawn characters but little in the way of plot. There are of course always exceptions but to me this was not one of them. Very disappointing. The Girl With All The Gifts is a far superior novel IMO.

Last edited by darryl; 09-16-2018 at 01:29 AM.
darryl is offline   Reply With Quote