The story begins quietly enough, although there is something "off" about it that nags at you in the back of your mind as you read, and then slowly bits are revealed and explained. I can't say exactly at what point my interest turned to fascination and then horror. I have not read many dystopian novels - 1984 is the only one I recall just now. This one stayed with me and provoked a great deal of discussion in my reading group.
Others have expounded on the plot and the book itself, but here's what I thought of the physical book: This is a trade paperback, 8"x5", with a matte paperback cover which you could probably spill something on, provided that you wipe it off right away. The actual pages are not the best quality, it is that "better than newsprint" paper that the publishers have been moving to in the last few years.
As for what's inside the book, well... people looking for your classic science-fiction novel will be disappointed in this book, and from the reviews, it seems that they are. But this is a classic Ishiguro work instead, emphasizing understatement, beauty, nobility, and that haunting feeling of impossibility.
While it has an intricate plot based on a mystery surrounding the exclusive boarding school of Hailsham, the plot unwinds slowly, piecemeal, and bit-by-bit through the character's thoughts. It takes nearly the entire book to figure out that you're in a a vision of an alternate dystopian world. So for someone who is looking for a "DaVinci Code" type of plot-driven, wham, bam, thank you, ma'am book, this is not it. Instead, you'll be treated to our main character, Kathy. She is quiet, reserved, and mostly passive to what is happening around her, although she is not indifferent; the book is written in her voice. The best way to describe this voice of this book is "controlled." You are really kept wondering through most of the book at what is going on, and what is going to happen to this trio of friends. Though it's no David Lynch movie, it's more like Atwood's Handmaid's Tale. If you're looking for a definite conclusion to an episode, you want to end up laughing, and have everything wrapped up nicely and tied with a bow, this is not your book. But if you want something thought-provoking, solid, moving, and somewhat suspenseful, it's good for that. Plus, it's a quick read at 288 pages, and one that will make you think afterward.
All I can say is this - I could barely speak when I finished this book, and it was a while before I picked up another book to read. Truly haunting, especially as you learn to care so much about the characters.
This was a book that had me from the first sentence. One of those books that I wish had gone on & on so I could keep hearing about the characters. I did NOT expect to love this book so much, to me, it is one of those "hard to give away" books. Those "generic" authors keep writing about silly crime detectives, I think they should keep writing about characters like in this novel!
What a disappointment! The story was certainly unique, of course, esp the characters. So in keeping with the difference of the characters, one would expect the details of their lives, the details of their "purpose." There were enough hints these things were coming. Alas, they did not. The book just ended.
Interesting, yes, in many parts, but too often I thought of just turning to the last chapter to see what happened and not wasting any more time.