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Dystopia in Utopia

So in between all the wildlife safaris, rhino hunting, Alias-like emergency extractions, and lounging in the pool, I read a book last week. It was not the most cheery novel I've ever plowed through, but it was as disturbing as it was compelling.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. I really recommend it, especially if you have no idea what it's about. Just go on and:

a) pick it up

b) read it without reading anything about it

c) endure the narrator's somewhat annoying tendency to ramble back and forth between her present and her memory which sort of gets in the way of a smooth narrative drive (but hey, it's how we all tell stories in real life)

d) let me know what you think

I don't want to talk about it too much, because I want you to read it without knowing anything about it.

But I do have a few things to say ... (so come back if you plan on reading it and don't want any potential spoilers)

I don't know why the book bothered me so much. Maybe it's the thought of knowing you live to be operated on. That you don't have much free choice and so you just have to make the best of it and accept your fate.

I also was moved by the idea that what you draw and write and create is a window into your soul ... what makes you human.

I'm sure the not knowing about my liver results test has something to do with it, as well as the fear of having to have a biopsy. I know it's a fairly unfounded fear, but you just never know. And ultimately, like Kathy and Ruth (that evil little bitch) and Tom, you suck it up and do what you need to. I think I related most to Tom, who got overwhelmed because he didn't quite fit in (or maybe he knew the futility of it all) and found that raging against it all was the only way to cope.

We're all ending up donors at one level or another, right? And do we all have a responsibility to be carers, if not at least to ourselves, then to those we're brought up with?

Remember that pit I had in my stomach before I left? Reading this novel gave me that same queasy feeling. I didn't care for many of the characters, but I found the story to be haunting and potentially all-too-real on several levels.

Ah, dystopia. Perhaps not the best of beach reading, but a truly memorable book. One I haven't quite shaken off yet.

I'm going through pictures and notes and should have some stories from the trip over the next couple days. It really was a brilliant adventure.