Date read: 24-02-2023

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro

How strongly I recommend it: 8/10

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A dystopian novel where people are cloned and raised as organ donors.

Classified as sci-fi, this book upends everything you know about the genre. There are no hero journeys, no action, no fighting—no nothing. But, it reflects our real lives hauntingly. Incredible read.

My notes

I can see,’ Miss Emily said, ‘that it might look as though you were simply pawns in a game. It can certainly be looked at like that. But think of it. You were lucky pawns. There was a certain climate and now it’s gone. You have to accept that sometimes that’s how things happen in the world. People’s opinions, their feelings, they go one way, then the other. It just so happens you grew up at a certain point in this process.’

‘It might be just some trend that came and went,’ I said. ‘But for us, it’s our life.’

‘You see, we were able to give you something, something which even now no one will ever take it from you, and we were able to do that principally by sheltering you. Hailsham would not have been Hailsham if we hadn’t. Very well, sometimes that meant we kept things from you, lied to you. Yes, in many ways we fooled you, I suppose you could even call it that. But we sheltered you during those years, and we gave you your childhoods. Lucy was well-meaning enough. But if she’d have her way, your happiness at Hailsham would have been shattered. Look at you both now! I’m so proud to see you both. You built your lives on what we gave you. You wouldn’t be who you are today if we’d not protected you. You wouldn’t have become absorbed in your lessons, you wouldn’t have lost yourselves in your art and your writing. Why should you have done, knowing what lay in store for each of you? You would have told us it was all pointless, and how could we have argued with you? So she had to go.’

Maybe from as early as when you’re five or six, there’s been a whisper going at the back of your head, saying: “One day, maybe not so long from now, you’ll get to know how it feels.” So you’re waiting, even if you don’t quite know it, waiting for the moment when you realise that you really are different them; that there are people out there, like Madame, who don’t hate you or wish you any harm, but who nevertheless shudder at the very thought of you – of how you were brought into this world and why – and who dread the idea of your head brushing against theirs. The first time you glimpse yourself through the eyes of a person like that, it’s a cold moment. It’s like walking past a mirror you’ve walked past every day of your life, and suddenly it shows you something else, something troubling and strange.