I was quite surprised at this book. That it was a Booker prize candidate was a shock. It has a very been-there, done-that feel. See The Giver
, by Lois Lowry, The Island
, a film of recent vintage in which the subject matter is very close indeed to the underlying concept here. In a closed, prep-school-type setting, a group of young people interact with themselves and their teachers and guardians. It takes no time at all to figure out what their role is, and in fact the ease of that made me wonder if this was not originally meant to be a young adult book. It could be except for some sexuality towards the latter parts of the book. I was amazed at the overall lack of curiosity of Ishiguro’s characters. While this may reflect the extant reality of people sheepishly going along with whatever nonsense is handed out by the powers of the day, it makes for questionable fiction. One character, a queen-bee sort named Ruth, shows that flare for knowledge, mixed in with her rather massive character flaws. Kathy is our narrator, an every-girl, eager to gain the attention of the exciting Ruth, kind to the bumbling, victimized Tommy. There are a few mysteries as the characters age. What is the Gallery? Why are some teachers afraid of them? Why do these children so passively accept that they were born, cloned, so that they could be a source for organ donation? It all seems ok with them. Doesn’t anyone try to escape? The outside world is as characterless as the world of the characters’ institutional lives. Weird. I was greatly disappointed in this, by the author of Remains of the Day
. So we know he has better stuff in him. This was extremely derivative, almost cribbed in some ways. Been there-done that. This is what happens when you let your grad students write your books for you. There is no need to go there or do that again here.