When I first caught wind of Never Let Me Go, the film version, I was intrigued. I’m subscribed to receive e-blasts from one of the local independent movie theatres, which is where I first stumbled across the synopsis. I didn’t even watch the trailer before deciding that this was one of those flicks that required placement on my Watch This One Day list. You know the list, right? It’s the one you scribble onto lazily, or the one you keep on your phone, but it’s the one that you have NOT A SINGLE CLUE what any of the movies are about once you go to choose one because it’s been so bloody long since you last referenced it.
Anyway. Boom. It was added.
Then, a friend of mine went to see it. I only know this because she posted it on Facebook, but according to that status update of hers, it was dreadfully depressing and yet, also amazing.
Flash forward a few months to the Trinity College book sale where I stumbled upon a book entitled, Never Let Me Go. I picked it up, read the synopsis and thought to myself, “It’s a book! The movie is based on a book!”
Yes. I am ashamed to admit that I had no idea the movie was based on a novel. Heck. The movie was based on a novel that was deemed to be the best novel of 2005. It was based on a Man Booker Prize short listed novel. It was based on a novel with so much buzz that I just couldn’t hear it!
So. Yeah. You can imagine that my plans to watch the movie were immediately pushed back in favour of reading the book first. I am not a movie before book kind of gal.
Then, I started reading it, and, of all things, I was… bored.
It was a really odd combination of feelings I had towards the novel at first. I was intrigued because Ishiguro doesn’t give away the premise right away. The story is built up slowly, with pieces being revealed to you, bit by bit. As a result, I was somewhat hooked, and yet, not hooked enough to devour the words any faster than a few pages a day.
That is, I wasn’t hooked enough to read it quickly through, oh, say, the first half of the book. Then, something clicked, and I raced through the last half five times faster than the first. However, I think that may have happened because by the middle of the novel, you’re aware of what the characters are and what their sole purpose is in life. It may be around the middle of the book that you start to connect and feel for the characters, wrapping yourself around them like a warm, cozy, “there, there, it’s going to be okay,” kind of blanket.
Except it won’t be okay.
It won’t be okay at all.
As soon as I finished the book, I sat down to watch the movie. Well, it wasn’t immediate. It’s not like I finished reading the last page and right away dived into the movie. There were a few days in between, but I figured sitting down to watch the movie right after completing the book was a good move if I wanted an accurate comparison of the two versions.
It should be made clear that I hardly ever, ever, ever see a movie about a book so soon after completing the book. It always ends up being one of those situations where I read a novel and then months or years later, someone decides to make a movie version and I never bother re-reading the book before seeing the film. I find this strategy tends to lead to less anger and frustrations.
And oh boy, was I was angry and frustrated watching the film adaptation. The details just weren’t there. So much of the character development, individually and as a threesome, was lost. Things happened unlike they did in the book. I had to bite my tongue numerous times to keep from saying, “But that’s not how it happened!”
In the end, I didn’t particularly find either the book or the movie all that sad and depressing. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m cold and callous or because, ultimately, I didn’t connect enough with Ruth, Tommy and Kathy, but I wasn’t left feeling much emotion at all. I found myself feeling pretty indifferent as I read the final few pages, which, I suppose, is kind of how Kathy ends up feeling by the end herself. Sure, there’s a sadness to the lives they lead, but there’s also a level of acceptance about the whole thing. You live the cards you’re dealt. You do with them what you can.
It was an interesting read and not blatantly science fiction, not that that would have been a problem. It is a nice change, however, for those who aren’t typically fond of the genre. It’s much like a soft introduction to the idea without being too overwhelming about it. The book is more or less about the characters, focusing heavily on their lives and emotions, rather than the sci fi elements of their being.
Otherwise, it may start slow, if the pace of the novel isn’t what you’re used to, but by the end, it’s worth it. Every word.
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