Book review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro explores an alternate reality in which the technology of cloning was developed during and after World War II. The book is set in the late 1990s, in England. Narrated by the protagonist Kathy H, the plot follows the story of three Hailsham students: Kathy, her best friend Ruth, and Tommy. The plot is fairly linear, with Kathy’s narration beginning with her Hailsham years, then her time at the Cottages, and finally life as a ‘carer’.¬†At its root, Never Let Me Go examines the human condition and our acceptance of fate. The characters are slow to challenge their fate as ‘donors’ (in which they are required to donate their vital organs), and, even then, they only apply to have their donations deferred rather than what would be logical- to escape.

A lot of the negative reviews I’ve read about this book seem to stem from the fact the book doesn’t have a ‘happy ending’. I found that I have more respect for this book because of how it ends; I think it makes the story more realistic. Furthermore, despite the tragic fate of the book, the protagonist Kathy H finds peace at the end, which if anything is, in its own way, a happy ending.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to readers who love science fiction, drama, or romance. The style of writing felt very mature, making the reading experience more enjoyable for me than the more amateur ‘young-adult’ styles that drown contemporary popular fiction. Additionally, the uniqueness of the first person narration style really added to the enjoyability of this novel.

Rating: 5/5 ūüôā

Ancestry’s Genetic Communities

When I first heard about Ancestry’s Genetic Communities feature (due to be released next week on the 28th March 2017) I thought it was primarily aimed at Americans as the academic¬†paper and advertisements seemed to point to as much. However, to my delight, it includes Europeans as well! And, to add to my excitement even further, I was invited to beta test the Genetic Community results.

To begin with, I’ve already spoken about my paper trail¬†here, if anything I write in this post about my ancestry is confusing then please refer to this¬†post as it may¬†resolve that confusion.

For those who don’t know, the Genetic Communities feature was created to represent an individual’s recent family history as opposed to the ethnicity feature which reflects ancient ancestry. AncestryDNA created the new feature by comparing members’ family trees and DNA results; doing this at such a number as to avoid potential errors in individual family trees.

AncestryDNA offer Genetic Communities in the following regions:



  • Finns
  • Eastern Norwegians
  • Swedes
  • Western Norwegians
  • Central Norwegians

United Kingdom & Ireland

  • English Newfoundlanders
  • Southern English
  • Northern English
  • Scots
  • English Midlanders & Northerners
  • The Welsh & English West Midlanders
  • Ulster Irish
  • Connacht Irish
  • Munster Irish

Western Europe

  • Jews in Central Europe
  • Germans, Netherlanders, Belgians & Luxembourgians
  • Germans in the Midwest
  • Portuguese

Southern Europe

  • South Slaves
  • Southeastern Europeans
  • Northern Italians
  • Southern Italians
  • Sicilians
  • Portuguese
  • Spaniards, Cubans, Dominicans & Venezuelans

Eastern & Central Europe

  • Jews in Central Europe
  • Jews in the Russian Empire
  • South Slavs
  • Eastern Europeans
  • Central Europeans

Western Russia

  • Germans from Russia

North America

United States

  • Northeastern United States

–New England

–Mid-Atlantic States

  • Southern United States

–Gulf States

–Southeastern States


–Southern Atlantic States

  • Midwestern United States

–Early Settlers of the Lower Midwest & Virginia

–Germans in the Midwest

–Early Settlers of the Ohio River Valley, Indiana, Illinois & Iowa

–Early Settlers of Pennsylvania, Ohio & Indiana

–Germans from Russia

  • Western United States

–Early Settlers of New Mexico

–Mormon Pioneers of the Mountain West

–Mexicans in Chihuahua & Durango


  • English Newfoundlanders
  • French Settlers Along the St. Lawrence
  • Acadians
  • French Settlers of Gaspe, New Brunswick & Maine


  • Mexicans in Northeastern Mexico & South Texas
  • Mexicans in Chihuahua & Durango
  • Mexicans in Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon & South Texas

South & Central America


  • African Caribbeans
  • Spaniards, Cubans, Dominicans & Venezuelans
  • Puerto Ricans

South America

  • Colombians
  • Colombians & Ecuadorians
  • Portuguese

*These regions usually also have a few branches within each of them that Ancestry attempt to identify. I will further explore this when explaining my results.

Genetic Community Results

The beta was released to all the kits I manage (mine, my parents, and my brother’s) and I was very impressed by the accuracy of the results. However, I would have liked to have seen more than 1-2 communities¬†in the results (I’m hoping more genetic communities will be attributed to my kits once the feature is fully released).

My mum’s results correctly identified the area that correlated with the largest part of her DNA: Yorkshire & The Pennines. As you may have noticed, Yorkshire & The Pennines wasn’t on my list of communities above… This is because it is a¬†branch within the English Midlanders & Northerners region. While my mum’s DNA is mostly from the English Midlanders & Northerners community on the paper trail, her¬†great-granddad was from Middlesex, which would make up approximately 12.5% of her DNA. This should, in my opinion, be significant enough to show as a genetic community, which would be represented as one of¬†the Southern English communities. Nonetheless, I was pleased to see Ancestry identify my mum’s Yorkshire-ness, since it’s so prevalent I would have been upset if it wasn’t identified.

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 12.04.30 pm

My dad’s DNA, on the other hand, according to the paper trail consists of about¬†38% Scottish, 12% Irish, and the rest English. Ancestry, however, only identified his Scottish DNA (even though his English is much more prevalent). Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably most proud of the Scottish heritage and I’m so glad Ancestry¬†did identify it, but I’m again a little disappointed they didn’t pick his English or Irish. If they had identified his English and Irish I think he would’ve been placed in the following Genetic Communities: The Welsh & English West Midlanders,¬†Ulster Irish, and maybe English Midlanders & Northerners.

Dad’s placement in the community ‘Scots in Northeast & Central Scotland’ accurately fits in with the Scottish on our family tree, which shows ancestors from Ayrshire, West Lothian, Elginshire, and Lanarkshire.

(N.B: John Peters is a pseudonym, which my dad goes by for privacy reasons):

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 12.03.38 pm

For comparison, the following are mine and my brother’s results:

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 12.03.16 pmScreen Shot 2017-03-20 at 12.04.10 pm

A Review of Genetic Communities

As I’ve already said I love the accuracy of the Genetic Communities feature. I wish Ancestry identified more communities, although, perhaps that’s a possibility for the actual release of Genetic Communities next week or another time in the future. Furthermore, once you click into the genetic communities Ancestry offers an overview of the area and a timeline of its history. I haven’t yet explored this in much depth but I look forward to it and I love that this is included.

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 1.29.38 pm.png

I also love that when you zoom in on the area, they show circles over the main genetic clusters.

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 1.33.34 pm

Though the maps show the capital cities, I think it would be helpful to customers if Ancestry included a list of counties included within these circles since not everyone is familiar with the geography of certain areas.

On the other hand, I noticed that there are no genetic communities for Africa or Asia and I’m assuming this is due to there being less test-takers from these areas. I feel like this is a massive gap in the system, which I hope will be updated as more people test.

All in all, I love this new feature! I think it’s going to be very beneficial to adoptees and to people with many brick walls in their research. I love how easy it is to use. And, I think it’s great that Ancestry are keeping up with their competition since the release of this feature is¬†in lieu¬†with the release of LivingDNA’s new test. I think¬†the Genetic Communities feature has added to the benefits of test-taking with AncestryDNA over other companies and I would definitely recommend AncestryDNA.

Edit: 18/04/2017 Updated information and terminology to be more accurate.

Split Film Review

Split¬†(2016) by¬†M. Night Shyamalan is a psychological thriller/ horror film¬†exploring themes associated with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) underpinned by ideas about abuse and the consequential emotional trauma.¬†My initial expectations of this film were that it would¬†unrealistically represent DID, be overwhelmingly scary, and be filled with ‘triggers’ (images that cause a person to have a negative mental reaction). However, I found this film to be enjoyable.

The film managed to successfully ‘show, not tell’ the psychology behind DID through Dr. Fletcher, who was the antagonist Kevin’s psychologist. This added to the film’s representation of DID as it depicted the disorder for what it is rather than allowing the audience to perceive Kevin merely as a ‘crazy psychopath’, which he was not. As Dr. Fletcher herself says, Kevin is more than an ordinary person because of the trauma he has survived and his personalities each individually represent the malleability of the human psyche as a mechanism for coping with such. While I thought the film portrayed DID well, I wish the film could have shown more of Kevin’s personalities since he was described as having twenty-four personalities and¬†the film only showed roughly¬†six of them.

While the portrayal of someone with DID as a kidnapper is perhaps not a realistic generalised portrayal of someone with the disorder, it did make for good story. Likewise,¬†the iconography¬†of ‘The Beast’, while grossly exaggerating the capability of a DID personality, was an icon of horror for the characters within the film, including most of Kevin’s personalities, which¬†stirred¬†up audience anticipation as it built curiosity over what exactly ‘The Beast’ was.

As someone who does not handle horror well, I found the story bearable, only once being startled. Furthermore, despite the content of the film, it does not have many triggering events.¬†I myself only felt triggered once in the film, during a flashback, in which Kevin’s mum calls his full name “Kevin Wendell Crumb” as he is hiding from her under the bed and she is about to punish him for making a mess. Although, other scenes may trigger anyone¬†who has been sexually assaulted. While I think this film exceeded my expectations in its approach to exploring concepts of abuse,¬†I do not recommend the film to someone who does not handle grotesque images or who is easily triggered.

+4.5 stars

All in all, I loved this film. It was intelligently written and designed. The psychology behind Kevin and his personalities was well researched and applied and the flashbacks explaining the protagonist Casey’s backstory were brilliant and left me emotionally unhinged (in a good way).

-0.5 of a star

The characterisation of two of the kidnapped girls, Claire and Marcia, made them feel like extras to the story. They¬†seemed more vulnerable and incapable than they¬†should have been. This felt like an attempt to contrast them with Casey and show how Casey was more intelligent and able to cope with the situation. Nonetheless, Claire and Marcia’s characterisation gave off a superficial feel to the characters which took away from the empathy one might feel for them in their situation.

4.5/5 stars.

N.B:¬†This film is the second in a triology; the first film in the trilogy is Unbreakable (2000), also by Shyamalan. (I have not seen the first film and it is not relevant to watch before viewing Split. Split closes on¬†a cameo to a “Mr. Glass” in reference to¬†Unbreakable).