By GARY ROSEN
New York Times
27 November 2005
You know from the start that there's something creepy about Kathy H., the narrator of "Never Let Me Go," Kazuo Ishiguro's recent and widely acclaimed coming-of-age novel. Though Kathy's fond memories of adolescence are set at a tony English boarding school, with its cliques and pranks and furtive hookups, it's clear that she is no child of privilege. As we learn to our dismay, she and her peers are clones - members of a caste created and trained for no other purpose than to provide healthy organs for the sick and feeble.
Genetic duplicates are hardly new to literature and pop culture - think of Huxley's worker-drone Epsilons in "Brave New World" - but Ishiguro's protagonist is different. Despite the novel's fantastic premise and Kathy's gruesome lot, she is unmistakably a person - not a monster or a menace or a comic device but a young woman struggling to figure out who she is and what she wants. "Never Let Me Go" is something of a cultural landmark: a subtle, sympathetic portrait of the inner life of a clone.