It is rare that I read a book that is both powerful enough to make me want to recommend it to everyone with even a passing interest while, at the same time, causing me to cringe from the mere thought of watching the movie.
This book describes the lives of human clones, created for the sole purpose of providing internal organs to ‘normal’ people. It is told from the perspective of a small group of clones who grow up together in the same ‘school.’
(Spoiler Alert – A bit of the ending is described)
It is simultaneously moving, touching and disturbing. When the novel ended I found myself wondering whether the most disturbing element was the ‘donations program’ or the universal and often unthinking acceptance of fate on the part of those chosen to die. I kept waiting for them to fight back while somehow knowing they never would.
They didn’t fight. They accepted the life prescribed to them and focused their thoughts and efforts on making the best of it – it was very very sad.
“Madame was afraid of us. But she was afraid of us in the same way someone might be afraid of spiders. We hadn’t been ready for that. It had never occurred to us to wonder how we would feel, being seen like that, being the spiders”
“...there are people out there, like Madame, who don’t hate you or wish you any harm, but who nevertheless shudder at the very thought of you—of how you were brought into this world and why—and who dread the idea of your hand brushing against theirs. The first time you glimpse yourself through the eyes of a person like that, it’s a cold moment. It’s like walking past a mirror you’ve walked past every day of your life, and suddenly it shows you something else, something troubling and strange.”
“However uncomfortable people were about your existence, their overwhelming concern was that their own children, their spouses, their parents, their friends, did not die from cancer, motor neurone disease, heart disease. So for a long time you were kept in the shadows, and people did their best not to think about you. And if they did, they tried to convince themselves you weren’t really like us. That you were less than human, so it didn’t matter….While that remained the case, there would always be a barrier against seeing you as properly human.”
“…that night, it seemed to me these dark byways of the country existed just for the likes of us, while the big glittering motorways with their huge signs and super cafés were for everyone else.“
–Never Let Me Go