Review: Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Never Let Me Go is way outside my normal reading. I tend to read sci-fi that is action packed. Give me a heady future world any day. Even so, I'm usually open to trying something unfamiliar, and this is definitely new territory for me.

Without giving too much away, Never Let Me Go is a conversational memoir by Kathy as she reminisces on her childhood at Hailsham, a private boarding school. She describes her memories of developing friendships with Tommy and Ruth, and how their lives intertwined through their teens and into adulthood.

I read this book at a time when it probably had the best chance of impacting me, which it did. I have three children in elementary school, ranging from 1st through 6th grade, and from time to time I see some of the magic of the world disappear in their eyes. Ishiguro captures that sentiment exquisitely here. It's incredibly sad, yet something that I can't protect them from, nor should I. Their naivety slowly gives way to unforgiving experience. In the same way, Kathy and her friends transition from children growing in a protected, yet nurturing environment, to dealing with the hurts that only friends can inflict on each other, and finally to the realization of opportunities lost that can never be recaptured. Ishiguro masterfully describes the subtle ways that those closest to us can use that intimacy to both bring us great joy and great pain. He also captures those frustrating situations where questions are left unasked, apologies unsaid, due to the history and emotion that each of our relationships carries.

I'm not sure I would read this again, nor will I likely seek out more of Ishiguro's work, but I'm glad for having read it. Never Let Me Go explored emotional territory that I don't often visit, and similar to Pixar's Inside Out showed that it can be a healthy endeavor.

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Review: Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I hear the name Stephen King I think of supernatural horror stories. Mr. Mercedes breaks that mold and delivers instead a suspense filled detective story. Newly retired Detective Bill Hodges receives a note from the Mercedes Killer, one of the few cases he failed to solve, and it gives him purpose.

Some stories are interesting for the richness of their characters. Others are interesting for the unique environments. This story invests in the actions of the characters. King tantalizes us by interleaving chapters of alternating perspective between Hodges and the Mercedes Killer. We are allowed to peek into the life of the killer and see exactly how he intends to harm Hodges and those around him, then fret over whether the plan will work or fail.

I didn't find the characters themselves particularly interesting. The killer is sufficiently loathsome, the detective acceptably noble. The supporting cast...well they support the progression of the plot. You won't find a Detta Walker or Randall Flag in these pages.

King is tops when it comes to suspense, and I have to admit I broke out into a sweat as read through the final pages of confrontation. Even so, the story is ultimately forgettable, and I'm not sure I've been given enough reason to get excited about a sequel.

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Jade Mason