What would it be like if we reached the point where humans are capable of playing God? What if science progressed to the point where humans are now capable of doing extraordinary things to our own species in order to prolong life? The answer to these questions, and the ethics debate that concerns them, is the topic of this heart-rending novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Never Let Me Go is a novel about Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy. They are three students who reside in Hailsham, a boarding school. Or at least that is what is said in the outset. But soon enough, the reader realizes that this is no ordinary boarding school: teachers are called guardians, and students are encouraged to produce poetry and art but nothing else. There's an interesting method of economics in the school, where they get to buy other people's artwork using tokens. There is also a character only known as Madame, who collects the most beautiful pieces produced by the students, hoarding them in a secret gallery.
Later on, other crucial facts are slowly revealed to the reader. Slowly, the reader learns that the students are there for a purpose, a purpose that perhaps is advantageous for the greater society, but definitely not for the students themselves. This slow-moving revelation is the crux of the novel, something that I am highly tempted to reveal here, but opt not to. I'd leave that to the reader to discover.
But no, the focus of the novel is actually not on this dystopian and dysfunctional fact. Instead, the focus rests on the social dynamic between Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy. Early on, Kathy is one timid girl, who seems to be more of a follower than a doer. She is content with observing her surroundings instead of doing things. Ruth is one feisty girl she befriends, and Tommy is a boy with a temper, but things lead to Kathy and Tommy being close to each other.
Upon hitting puberty, Ruth and Tommy decide that they like each other, and so they become a couple and have plenty of sex. However, it is obvious to the reader that old pals Kathy and Tommy are better suited for each other. Ruth is the anti-heroine; I just couldn't make up my mind whether I liked her or not. She does things that preclude me from totally thinking that he is the antagonist. After all, it is the society as a whole which is the antagonist in this novel; Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy only have different ways of dealing with the obstacles that are presented in front of them.