Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
Perhaps I expected too much. I've read Ishiguro before, although it was many years ago. We even saw/heard him speak at Powell's in the early 1990s.
I read Never Let Me Go for my book group, and I had a difficult time getting into the novel. It didn't help that (1) a book group friend highly endorsed it, and in fact loved it, raising my expectations, and (2) I was listening to it on audio before getting hold of a hard copy. I am a visual learner and processor, so audio books are not the best choice for me. It does speed up the reading if you can listen and read at the same time (I listened to the book while driving).
Without spoiling this dystopian novel for other readers, I will just say that it was not my favorite. The protagonist, Kathy, tells the story in first person, about her childhood years at Hailsham, a private school in England. The narrative style was dry and distant, typical of Ishiguro.
I actively disliked Kathy's friend Ruth. I've known people like her before, and this story brought back unpleasant memories! I had a difficult time understanding Kathy's affection for Ruth, but the bottom line is that Kathy was powerless and naive in all aspects. I also found the dystopian plot (the purpose for Kathy and the others' lives) to be implausible and full of holes. I was expecting more out of this book...I didn't feel it was very compelling.
I wonder what Kazuo Ishiguro is like as a person, as the characters in his novel seem to live their lives as unfulfilled, unhappy people...it's almost as if he doesn't want his characters to be happy and he has a cynical, depressing view of life.
After reading Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake in 2014 and The Hunger Games trilogy in the previous years, I can't help but draw comparisons. I felt more sympathy for the characters in those books, and both plots seemed more believable to me.