Yesterday I finished Kazuo Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go", a book from the same category as McCarthy's The Road, the one that leaves you speechless in utter shock. England, late 90s. Kathy B. describes her childhood in Hailsham, a somehow special boarding school. We meet her friends Tommy and Ruth and her teachers or "guardians", who greatly support artistic abilities of the students. However, even in these idyllic times, there are some cracks in the façade and we start to realize that something terrible is awaiting these kids in the future. We learn that they cannot have babies and they will work as "carers" and later "donors". It's in the second part of the novel, with the three friends as teenagers living in a farm community, when we are finally told the truth: the students were human clones, raised only to have their organs harvested. During the "donations", other clones, the "carers", are supporting the "donors" and after three or rarely four donations, the "donors" are "completed". In the third part of the book, Ruth and Tommy both started to "donate" and Kathy works as "carer". After Ruth "completes", Kathy and Tommy go to visit one of their former guardians, the Hailsham director, to ask if there was anything true about rumours that if two former Hailsham students were in love, their "completion" would be postponed so they could live together for some time. They are told not just that it's a pure nonsense, but also that Hailsham doesn't exist anymore, that the gentle way of raising the clones in the boarding schools have been abandoned. For something much worse, I assume. What is the most disturbing part of the novel is the fact that the clones accept their miserable destiny, their imminent deaths, without fighting or even questioning it.
One of the key scenes of the book takes place while they are still in Hailsham. Kathy has an audiotape with her favourite song called "Never let me go". As a child, she thinks that the song is about a mother and her child, as the chorus goes: "Baby, baby, never let me go...". She is singing the song in her bedroom and accidentally sees the Hailsham director looking at her, crying. She doesn't understand why the teacher cries and in fact, she may never understand. I believe that the director saw humanity deteriorating, something we should "never let go".