My wife’s father loves to say of the movie, “it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.” I too didn’t care for the movie when I watched it all those years ago, having watched it for that hook (humans cloned for their organs) and gotten little to satisfy my desire for said hook. My wife has persisted, throughout the years we’ve been together, though, that the book is better. So, with audiobooks included with Spotify Premium, I started listening through Never Let Me Go, and boy was it a slog. Before I say anything, I’m well aware I’m firmly in the minority. That out of the way, I’ll start by saying not a single one of these characters made a lasting impression on me. Maybe it was the fact that the drip-feed of revelations about their status as organ farms felt, to me, like it was met with complacency and blank stares, rather than noteworthy anger or sadness, even if nothing would clearly come of them trying to rail against their lot in life. Maybe it was that their lives were just so unbelievably dull that even a love triangle of sorts didn’t spice things up at all for me. Or perhaps it’s the author’s writing style; I tried listening to The Remains of the Day after this, vaguely remembering liking the movie adaptation, and it about put me to sleep as well. Whatever the reason, there simply wasn’t anything there to maintain my interest if I didn’t care about these characters and their uninteresting (to me) lives.
For me, what would’ve kept me hooked would’ve been delving deeper into the organ farm concept, the questions surrounding it, and its ramifications. We get teased with it a little towards the very tail end of the book, but it’s just that, a tease. I’m left with so many unanswered questions, unsatisfied by both the characters and the sci-fi plot that turned out to be just set-dressing for them. Admittedly, I was listening to it on 3x speed by the final chapters, racing to the end, but I still understood what was being said, and I honestly didn’t think I could stand it taking any longer than it did. Had I been made to read this, as opposed to listen to it, it would’ve landed on my DNF pile for sure. It’s only thanks to the wonder that is audiobooks and Spotify’s ability to speed things up by as many as 3.5x that I could see it through to the end. Feel free to call me uncultured or say I missed the whole point of the book or what have you. I just simply don’t get Never Let Me Go, no matter the format.