RIP Challenge, but I'm not even sure if this could be considered a mystery or a thriller.
I decided to read this book after I was talking to Amanda about going to see the movie adaptation. (If you don't know Amanda, she's the author of the Zen Leaf, and is the Queen of Dystopian Fiction.) Of course since we are in the Flyover Zone, the movie doesn't open here until October 1. Sigh. But I digress. Amanda strongly recommended that I read the book first and avoid the trailer like the plague, since it basically gives away the whole plot. But I realized after finishing this book, that there really is very little plot. There are only three main characters, and if I try to describe the plot, I'll pretty much give away the whole thing. Like the trailer.
I'll try to give some background without spoiling it too much. It's set in the 1990s in Britain, and it's told in the first person by a young woman named Kathy who is a Carer. For what, or for whom? It's mysterious, but eventually revealed, though I don't want to give it away. Most of the action in this book is told in flashback about Kathy and two of her friends, Ruth and Tommy, growing up at a special boarding school called Hailsham, which I keep mentally confusing with Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. Perhaps this is not a coincidence?
These youths have spent their whole lives at this school, because they are being prepared for Something Special. Unfortunately, when I put the book on hold at the library, I happened to glance at the bottom of the screen and the book's biggest secret was inadvertently revealed by the library's subject headings (which is a new phenomenon for fiction; you won't find it nearly as often with older books). Curse you, Library of Congress subject headings! And this is not the first book the OPAC has spoiled for me. I guess I need to be more careful about my library catalog surfing.
Well, these secrets are revealed, of course, but there isn't nearly as much buildup or tension as I would have expected. This is the second book I've read by Ishiguro, and though the subject matter is quite different than in The Remains of the Day, they are similar in that they are both Literary Fiction in Which Not Much Happens. A lot of the book's action is consumed with the interaction between Kathy and her frenemy Ruth, such as "who said what to whom??" and "how they reacted" and "what does it mean???" I found the minutia of this exhausting, like high school, but three times worse. I suppose that's possible, since these youngsters have lived their entire lives at this school and that's all they know. It was still interesting, but I was hoping for a little something more. And I still can't remember the ending.