Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Philosophical Clones

Sorry for the black out yesterday, but my internets was being dumb...silly internets.  We are up and running now and will now do a quick ramble on a weird/cool/thinky/undefinable book I just finished.  The book is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.  I really don't remember where I heard about this book, or why I picked it up, but it was worth the read.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
I'll try and keep this briefer then my more current ramblings and try and focus on my thoughts and feelings of the book rather then every detail of the plot.  The book is in the form of a diary/confessional style narrative.  Kathy is our guide to this familiar, yet odd world.  We start with Kathy reflecting as her years as a Carer for people called Donors and how she will soon make the switch from one to the other.  We learn pretty quickly that Donors are clones that are required to donate their organs as they become needed, and Carers are clones who care for them until it is their time to donate.  Oddly enough, this is not really what the "story" is about.  I put "story" in quotes because it does not have a solid plot line like we are used to, instead getting flashbacks into Kathy, and her best friends Ruth and Tommy's life as she is reminded by various things of her past.  The first part of the book is mostly devoted to the the trio's life at Hailsham, a school where some of the clones are raised.  As they grow up, they are encouraged to create art in various forms to share with each other, with the best pieces going into a mysterious gallery.  As Kathy, Ruth and Tommy grow older, more and more is revealed to them about their role in society and what is expected of them.  Most of the narrative is spent in various scenes and vignettes of the trio and their evolving relationship.  The second part of the book follows our characters as they leave Hailsham for a place called The Cottages.  Here Ruth and Tommy continue to pursue a relationship and Kathy tries to figure out where she fits in. Ruth learns of a rumor that if a couple can prove that they are truly in love that they will get a defferal for their donations, getting to spend a couple of years together before the surgeries begin.  As time goes on Ruth gets more and more brash, Tommy starts to withdraw, and Kathy becomes a Carer. The last part of the book is where Kathy tells us what happened after the trio goes their separate ways.  After several years of becoming a top Carer, Kathy runs into Ruth after a particularly hard donation.  Kathy becomes Ruth's Carer and they seek out Tommy who has also started his donations.  Ruth admits that she kept Tommy and Kathy apart and want them to spend what little time they have left together, trying to get a deferment.  Ruth only makes it through one more donation before she "completes", which is what they call dying.  Ruth becomes Tommny's Carer and they hook up.  They find their old teacher and a woman they only know as Madame (Hailsham has been closed for years) to try and learn about the deferral.  Instead of this minor miracle they learn that Hailsham and the art were a group of humanitarian's way of trying to prove that clones had souls and should be raised and treated well until their donation time.  Unfortunately circumstances turned public opinion and the clones were once again raised in basic conditions.  Tommy and Ruth are disappointed, but understand.  Tommy asks Ruth to leave before he dies so she doesn't have to watch.  The book ends with Kathy ready to retire as a Carer and start her donations.
As I said earlier, this is less a beginning middle end story and more of a personal reflection, which worked well for this odd book.  This book is very hard to define, with the clones and donations you have a scifi/dystopia style theme, but it reads more like a classic fiction novel...strange, but original and kind of neat.  What struck me the most about this book was the sheer acceptance of the clones of their role in society.  Their was no talk of a revolution, or protest, or even people complaining of unfairness.  These kids are raised from birth to accept what they are with no questions asked. In fact at certain times, certain clones even seemed to look forward to starting donations.  I really liked how the author had the clones be in society, living, playing, and being among the normal people, but still apart in their own dwellings and their lack of meaningful interaction with non clones.  As far as I can tell, there is no visual way to distinguish a clone from a normal, so one would never be 100% sure if you were dealing with a clone or not.  The way the characters viewed life was understandably skewed with their exceptions of their future being so vastly different from our own, little things are more important to them, and they are able to face death in a calm and accepting manner.  At times the book got a little slow, with Kathy's narrative meandering here and their as her memories cropped up at random.  For somebody like me who likes to know things, the minimum of background information was a wee bit frustrating, but since that wasn't what the book was really about I was able to get over it.  Overall it is really hard to describe what was good, or bad, or eh about this book.  I love it for its undefinability and it's unique take on a scifi staple.  I do know that reading this has made me want to look at this authors other books, so that is good.  I give this book 7 out of 10 cassette tapes and recommend it to anybody who is looking for a unique book, a book that makes you think, or a book with a nice slow pace. Happy Reading Everybody!
Do you think society will accept anything give enough time?  How much does conditioning play into a persons acceptance of the horrible things in life?  Do I sound like a pretentious snot booger in this post?

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