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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Even though I had Mr. Ishiguro's Remains of the Day on my TBR list for years, I never got round to reading it. I had heard that his writing was great, and it seemed like something I'd enjoy, but I just couldn't get enthused about the subject matter. A psychological study of a repressed English butler, oh fascinating, zzzzzz. I kept reading fresher recommendations and Remains of the Day got pushed further back into the dusty corner, as it were, of my Amazon wishlist.

I had no such qualms about his new novel (SPOILER ALERT!! It is about clones), and I was not disappointed by the quality of his prose. Now, I like wacky scifi--Phillip K. Dick is one of my favorite authors--and science fiction by definition can be about some really out-there stuff and still be believable within the confines of the story. That's what's fun about it. But when I'm reading scifi there's also always, in the back of my mind, the nagging reminder that this is all fake.

What Ishiguro does is to take a classic scifi staple (human cloning) and ground it so firmly in reality that there is no such disconnect. The events in the book do not seem fantastical or futuristic or out there; they are simply the way things are. I could accept the premise of the novel as simply as the characters accepted it, without question. I love how he does this. And he does it skillfully by making the story not about the technology and science, but entirely about the characters and their relationships.

And once again, that's starting to seem a bit dull, isn't it? It isn't, though. The book is short, and paced well, and when I got to the end I was satisfied. I wasn't left feeling like the story had gone on too long or that the characters weren't developed enough: it was perfect. A rare thing indeed.

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