At the start of last week I wasn’t feeling too hot, not to sound alarmist, but I’m sure I had the plague.  Either that or a cold.  Anyway, while it really wasn’t a great time to get sick*, it did at least give me time in bed to finish reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Never Let Me Go Review: Comparing Book & MovieThis book has  recently hit the big screens in an adaptation starring three of my favourite British actors, Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield.  After going to see it at the cinema my mate was kind enough to lend me the book, so I could see the difference in the way the stories played out.

Really, I’m dying to tell you Everything I thought about Never Let Me Go, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

Suffice it to say that the story is a touching and tragic examination of what it means to be human:

Does the fear of death show our humanity – or is it love that shows our souls?

Does the way we treat other human being reveal our true nature or is “humanity” an inherent quality?

What is the point in emotions, creativity and friendship?

But, I do feel happy to talk about the differences in the style of story telling.  I loved both book  and film equally, and yet I can’t help but feel I would have been disappointed by the film if I had read the book first.  I don’t mean there is any problem with the cinematic version, just that it is far less subtle and nuanced than the novel.

Never Let Me Go: the film defined the characters much more clearly and definitively, with the result that it was more moving – I found that I was crying for at least the last 30 minutes of the movie.

I was completely overwhelmed by the tragedy of the story and the sense of a wasted life that was underlying everything.

However, Never Let Me Go: the novel, played its hand with a much lighter touch.  Where in the film, everything appeared to be black and white, with maybe a few middling shades of grey, the novel rarely strayed towards such clear-cut conclusions.

This was certainly easier to handle emotionally, and it felt more appropriate to the overarching themes and the probing and questioning tone of the story.

Not that I’m criticising the movie – many of the subtleties in the novel simply wouldn’t work as well in a film, so I think the adaptation was spot on.  But, when the raw emotion of the film was toned down, it was easier to think about the intellectual implications of the story.

I feel that I can’t go into this any further without revealing great big chunks of plot.  So I guess I’ll just leave it with one final thought:

Never Let Me Go is powerful as both book and film, which you’ll prefer may come down to whether you want to be emotionally or intellectually challenged.

*Don’t the germs know I have training to do?

Image Courtesy of The Mad Prophet