Tag: mustread

Book Review: Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro).

Never Let Me Go

– Kazuo Ishiguro.

This book has been sitting on my shelf for years. It’s the dystopian element of the novel that intrigued me as well as worried me; I need to be in a certain mindset for them. Finally, I read it this month and I was taken by surprise. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is a science fiction/dystopian novel which focuses on three friends Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth.

The story of Never Let Me Go is divided into three parts as it focuses on different periods of the characters’ lives. Kathy is the narrator of the story and everything that unfolds is from her perspective. The first part begins when Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth are young kids’ not even teenagers yet at a boarding school called Hailsham. Apart from the first chapter where it seems something might be off about the school, it is pretty idyllic. There are a lot of secretive things happening at Hailsham which all the kids notice but they don’t know why it is the way it is.


In the second part of the story, the three friends have left the school at 16 and now are living at Cottages where they start to really understand about their lives. It is then revealed that all the kids at Hailsham are actually clones, genetically engineered to be organ donors. Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth spend time reminiscing about Hailsham while trying to accept their reality. Tommy and Ruth are in a romantic relationship now. Kathy notices the changes in Ruth’s behavior towards her and Tommy but she doesn’t say anything to her directly. Ruth has befriended an older couple there who tell her that if the clones are truly in love and can prove it, they can defer. By the end of this part, Ruth has successfully driven a wedge between Tommy and Kathy. It is after this Kathy signs up to be a carer.


In the third part, Kathy is now working as a carer, Ruth and Tommy have made their first donations. Kathy meets an old classmate from Hailsham who tells her about Ruth and her failing health after the donation. Kathy decides to become her carer. It is Ruth’s idea to go to the lake and she also insists and Tommy joining them. Ruth regrets keeping Tommy and Kathy apart and urges them to defer together. After Ruth’s death, Kathy and Tommy are romantically involved and she is also Tommy’s carer.


The main part of the story that I really liked were the characters. Kathy is empathetic which makes her a good carer; she is also more accepting of her fate. Even at a young age, she notices slight changes in the behavior of the guardians. Ruth can be superficial and difficult at times. She has fantasies and dreams which don’t match her reality and understandably, she lashes out. In the end, though she accepts she kept Tommy and Kathy away from each other and wants them to try and defer. Tommy is sensitive and introspective. As a kid, he is short-tempered but as he becomes older he is calm and thoughtful.


The book is disturbing in a way because you know they are clones and they have been brought up for a purpose but they are also human. Their emotions and reactions are real. They behave like regular kids and teenagers but deep down they know that they are not ‘normal’. They are human in all the ways that it counts but their life has a purpose and that has to be fulfilled. Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth want to see if they can change their fate; Ruth dies without knowing the truth about their existence which Kathy and Tommy learn towards the end.


The novel is heartbreaking and disturbing. The way it is written and narrated just takes the story to another level. The themes of expectation versus reality, friendships and relationships, life and death, and humanity are beautifully explored in this novel. This novel put me in a bit of a daze; I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished. It is a must-read.

*Click on the image above to get a copy.

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Gaŕcia Marquez).

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Gaŕcia Marquez.

I have read Of Love and Other Demons and short stories written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez before I finally picked up this book. One Hundred Years of Solitude was on my to-be-read list for a long time but I was a little hesitant to actually start reading it. I read some 50 odd pages of the book last year and kept it aside and didn’t touch it again till last month. I had to skim through the previously read pages as a refresher and I am glad I did that otherwise I might have been utterly lost going ahead.

The story of One Hundred Years of Solitude spans for more than a century with seven generations of the Buendia family. It is tricky to explain all the characters in this books as they are many of them and they have same names; I don’t think its possible to explain the plot of the story in brief but I will try to give an overview. It begins when Jose Arcadio and his wife Ursula leave their hometowns to look for a new place to settle. They are the original settlers and founders of Maconda; Jose Arcadio dreams about this place and they build the town. Jose Arcadio is curious by nature and he is obsessed with scientific pursuits and immerses himself completely in his work. Jose Arcadio and Ursula are cousins and Ursula has been warned that incest will eventually lead to a baby being born with a pig’s tail.

The novel is wonderfully written. The magical realism of the writing and the story is what kept me intrigued as I read. The descriptions of the atmosphere and the landscape of Maconda paints a picture in your head as you are reading. You can imagine the town vividly which helped me stick to the story because I could see it play out properly in my head. The element of magical realism shines through the story and the way it progresses seems completely organic. The political and social upheaval in the story is mirrors the reality of our society. I have never read any books before which have the element of magical realism the way it is present in this novel.

The characters, the character traits and their names are repetitive in the story. At first, I had trouble keeping up with all the names and it didn’t exactly get easier as I progressed. Jose Arcadio, Amaranta, Aureliano specifically are names repeatedly used by new generations. It seemed confusing but then I realized that it is on purpose. The Buendia family is stuck in the same old circle of mistakes and decisions through generations. For example – the incestuous tendencies in the family are also present in generations and they end up in incest relationships no matter how hard they resist they can’t break the cycle. The personality traits are also similar in different generations like Aureliano’s are shy and self-reflective, they like being in their own company.

All the secrets that are kept by the family about parentage due to incestuous history end up being the reason that sixth generation Aureliano and his aunt Amaranta Ursula end up marrying when they are unaware of their familial ties and their son in born with a pig’s tail. Its very difficult to explain the themes and story of the book because it is vast and complicated. The family which keeps going in circles and interpretations of time and space in the story are some aspects are understood as I was reading. I might need more time to completely understand the story and all that it encompasses.

There were time where I really had trouble reading this book and I wondered if I should finish it or not. I am glad I stuck it out in those patches because in the end the story comes to full circle and it is intriguing. There are so many elements of the story that I feel went slightly over my head and I’ll have to read about it later. I enjoyed reading the book in parts as sometimes it was slow and I lost patience. I liked the book and the story and the writing but I don’t think it’s a book I’ll pick up again at least not anytime soon. Reading this book is a completely different experience but in a good way.

Favorite Quotes from the Harry Potter Books.

My Favorite Quotes from the Harry Potter Series.

Harry Potter is undoubtedly one of my favorite book series. I pick any book from it once in a while to read it again. Re-reading these books is just as enjoyable to me as they were the first time. There are many good quotes in the books but some of them are my favorites.

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1)    This first quote is from the Philosopher’s stone or Sorcerer’s stone. The part where Harry starts sitting in front of the mirror over and over again to see his parents, it is sad. I mean he is eleven years old, so when Dumbledore says this to him it makes perfect sense in the story.

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2)    This one again is from Dumbledore but to be fair he does have many inspirational lines throughout the series. This one is from the Prisoner of Azkaban, it is quite early on in the book and it’s a part of Dumbledore’s speech at the start of the New Year. I just like this quote.

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3)    Order of Phoenix is an intense book because Harry is conflicted, sad and angry after the events in Goblet of Fire. This quote is something Sirius Black says to Harry when Harry opens up about his emotions and it’s perfectly apt for the situation. In a way, it makes Harry realize that he might have a choice.

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4)  This quote is from the seventh and the last book. Yes, another quote from Dumbledore but he has some the best lines throughout. The situation when it is said its a little of a bittersweet situation as its almost at the end. It’s funny yet thoughtful. It appeals to the dreamer in me.

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5) Hermione is such a great character. This is something she says to Harry in the first book when she is 11 years old. It kind of completes a story arc for her character. In the beginning, she is very proud of her intellect, she should be but she accepts she is not perfect during this situation. It shows character growth and that is so satisfying as a reader.

 

There are many more quotes which I really like from the Harry Potter books, the list could go on and on. These are the ones that are my absolute favorites because they fit the context so well and are inspirational in a way.

 

 

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