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Thanks a lot, Amazon

NOTE: This post contains "spoilers", which are hidden by making them the same color as the background. If you are reading this via RSS feed or on another website, the text may be visible.

I was browsing on today and noticed Never Let Me Go, the new novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.

(Ishiguro, who was born in Japan, but lives in Britain and writes in English, is probably best known for his excellent The Remains of the Day, which became a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and the late Christopher Reeve.)

I was thinking about buying Never Let Me Go, when I started to read's own Editorial Review of it — not a customer-contributed review, mind you, but the one supplied by Amazon itself.

As it turns out, the book contains a huge, massive, surprise twist plot point, on the level of The Sixth Sense or The Crying Game. And Amazon's review gives it away. I've included part of the review below, with the surprise blacked out. Select the hidden text with your mouse if you want to ruin the book for yourself:

Kazuo Ishiguro's sixth novel, Never Let Me Go, is a masterpiece of indirection. Like the students of Hailsham, readers are told, but not told, what is going on. Not until page 80 do we learn for certain that these children — and many others who didn't benefit from the art education and other refinements of Hailsham — are clones created for the purpose of organ donation: created, in other words, as a servant race, as selfless and sterile as worker bees.
Not even the slightest warning precedes this mother of all spoilers. In fact, the Publishers Weekly review, which Amazon helpfully includes right below its own, also spills the beans.

As a result, Never Let Me Go is one book I won't be buying in a hurry. And if I do, it won't be on Amazon.

Amazingly, reknowned author Margaret Atwood gives away the secret in her review on Slate. What is wrong with these people?


Anonymous said...

If you find out at page 80 of a 300 page book it isn't exactly an end of the book plot twist.

From what it sounds like, it would be impossible to review this book without talking about it's central premise. 

Posted by Dave Justus

Anonymous said...

I read your site in Bloglines, and the way the highlighting work - the twist was emphasized, not hidden. :)

Amazon's review of Pearl Buck's "Sons" is similar. Throws off the pacing when you know the state of the novel 3/4 of the way in it. 

Posted by Dan

Anonymous said...


The Crying Game revealed its secret no more than halfway or so into the movie, if I recall. Yet every film critic in the country found a way to keep the secret. It can be done.

And Dan:

Sorry about the highlighting issue! I don't use bloglines... 

Posted by GaijinBiker

Anonymous said...

I suspect the reviewers didn't feel they were doing much damage because the book is (I assume) much longer than 80 pages. "The Sixth Sense" didn't reveal its twist until near the very end.

My guess, anyway.


Posted by Kevin Kim

Anonymous said...

I still would have liked to have had those first 80 pages lead up to a surprise, instead of knowing about it ahead of time. 

Posted by GaijinBiker



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