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!
I loved this book. I should say that it's not a book for everyone since it sometimes drags along with a lot of 'every day life' detail. I can see some people getting bored, but I decided to take the book for what it was worth; I realized early on the value of the story pacing because I knew in the end it would personalize me more the characters in such a way that I could understand their mindset. I lived their life with them. There has been some criticism of this book that no character rebelled against their fate as eventual organ donors, that everyone just seemed to accept that one day they would become donors and then die. I feel that this criticism is misguided. How are people to know what the world is like when they've been conditioned to live and think one way? From the day these clones were 'born,' they were raised to believe and live one way. That they accepted their fate is no different from the way that we accept our own. One can't expect characters to manifest deep philosophical thought about something they have no knowledge of whatsoever. In so many dystopia novels, people do rebel against the order in place and this is what readers come to expect. Why should it always be the case? Why should every one of these books be about the destruction of a misguided society? Can't it just be a snapshot in the process? The lives of a few people involved but not earth shattering? The characters never went into long speeches about how unfair their lives were, they just lived life, enjoyed what they could, but always knew they would die for the sake of others. To tell the truth, I couldn't stand to read the last page. It actually hurt to read them. I didn't want the book to end because I knew what would happen, I knew what would become of the characters. It wasn't even their sadness that I absorbed more than it was my own sadness that this was all that their lives were about.
This was a really sad, somewhat haunting, but strange tale. It was absorbing from the start, but explanations were somewhat vague, mostly because of the impression this was taking place in the present and past we live in when it would be more believable as a future scenario. It is really a love story and not what I was expecting. It is a unique and interesting read though it left me feeling disturbed in the end. It stays with you after you have finished. I would say it is a worthy addition to the 1,001 Books to Read...list.