I am feeling sooo much more upbeat today than I did yesterday! 🙂
As I said, I started reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I also finished reading it. 😀 Reading block is over! It’s clearly all about finding the right book! We are back in business, baby!
This book interested me because it’s dystopian, of course, but also because it’s about experimentation on human beings and about eugenics, which are both topics that I’ve read about with disturbed fascination for a long time. I wrote a paper about it, too, in my last semester of college, though I don’t think I did justice to the topic.
Ethics of experimentation on living things has become hazier and greyer since cloning and genetic engineering came into the picture. I strained my mind trying to understand the boundaries of permitted experimentation since I read about the Harvard Onco Mouse, which was genetically engineered to be more susceptible to cancer, in order to facilitate cancer research, of course.
Now, off the top of your minds, tell me. Is that right or wrong?
Is it ok to harm mice thus because of the greater good? Why is it ok? Is it because mice are lesser life forms? Or is it acceptable because this particular mouse wouldn’t even exist if not for the people who created it in the lab, thereby giving them ownership of sorts over it?
Can you really own a living being just because you created it in a lab? Can you really use a living being for the sole purpose of benefitting others, to their detriment, if you created it with that specific purpose in mind?
Ishiguro’s book made me ponder these questions anew and it did not get less disturbing or heart-breaking.
I really liked the protagonist of this book, Kathy. I liked that the book was in first person. I liked that is was a nostalgic reminiscence about a past gone by, but with inputs from hindsight. I liked the meandering, rambling style of narration, not just because that’s how my head works, but also because this is how everybody reminisces about the past I think. I like that her memories showed everyone in her life honestly and nakedly, almost unforgivingly accurately, and yet her love and compassion for them shone through.
The matter of fact way in which these characters accepted their due in life was so chilling, so frightening, but so real.
And there was a love story. Of course there was. There is no better way to make your reader relate to your characters than to have them love; love, deeply and hard, because everybody has once in their life at least. And everyone knows that love can leave the “unkindest cuts of them all”.
I’m unsure, but I think it was the way Kathy addresses people like herself throughout the book as the receivers of her internal ruminations that made me feel the same emotions of contentment, hope, fear, helpless rage, resignation, exasperation, empathy, and a spectrum of other feelings that the characters were feeling.
The intensity of these feelings also altered according to whether I was reading about Kathy’s childhood, youth or adulthood.
Invoking this level of internal debate as well as emotion is a very hard thing to do, and it is admirable that Ishiguro is able to do so.
When I was reviewing The Giver, I talked about how certain authors of dystopian novels use their characters as pawns for their ‘message’ and how annoying that is in a novel. Ishiguro has done the exact opposite of this in this book.
This is an excellent book. I think everybody should read it, and in today’s scientific climate, I think it may end up proving more relevant than one can ever imagine.
I gave it a full five stars. 🙂
I hear there’s a movie too? Is that worth watching?
Those of you who’ve read the book, what did you think of it?
Can any of you recommend more dystopian books along these lines, where the book doesn’t end in the overthrow or the reform of the dystopian society? I know it sounds like a ridiculous request, but that isn’t the point of a book in this genre, I think. A lot of the YA dystopian books are along those lines, and it’s kind of put me off after a point, honestly.
Well, I could be wrong. What do you think it the point of writing a dystopian book?
Go ahead and stalk me or hit me up on my social media. I like talking to people. (
As long as it’s only on the internet and)
my shyness can’t become apparent
P.S: I just added the term ‘The Greater Good’ as a tag to this post and it made me chuckle to think of how it’s gotten such sinister significance after Harry Potter. And then I realised that these words should have exactly that significance because the greater good is always determined by the stronger group of people, and it quite crushes minorities. It makes sentient beings into sacrificeable statistics.
So… kudos to Rowling for giving these words this new connotation.
P.P.S: I know that this disapproval of the concept has probably existed for longer but I’m only saying JK has made it widespread by associating these words with something objectively bad in the minds of an entire generation.
Well, that was a little random!
Errr. Heheh. Cheers!
Off I go!