◐ Book Name: Klara and the Sun
◐ Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Klara is an Artificial Friend who is bought by Josie to care for her, and act as her companion. Through her observations and interactions with the people in Josie’s life, she learns about human nature.
◐ Review: 3/5 ⭐
Let me first delve into aspects I enjoyed, of which there are many.
The narration by Klara. She is such a pure character, an AF (artificial friend) who has remarkable powers of insight. She is chosen by Josie, a young teenage girl with an unnamed, life-threatening illness.
Ironically, we are just as ignorant how to react to other people as Klara is. Ishiguro’s way of writing in first person is ingenious because of the character Klara is. She is an AF; she can see more clearly than others, but not enough.
This forces the reader to look more closely and read carefully between the lines because of Klara’s inherently limited understanding and knowledge of the world and of human nature.
And we learn about the world along with Klara, through gradual revelations, hints and conjectures.
Ishiguro weaves many themes: loneliness, AI and what it could progress to, fear of loss, classism, the implications of technological advancement, even environmental concerns.
Above all, as was foremost in his other novel, 𝘕𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘓𝘦𝘵 𝘔𝘦 𝘎𝘰, Ishiguro explores the question what it means to be human, and love, what love means when faced with loss. This he does extremely well, as I am now expecting always from him now.
Ah, now for what I didn’t like, and what took this book from an “I love it,” to “I almost really like it, but not quite” for me.
𝘒𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘢 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘶𝘯 is thematically similar enough to 𝘕𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘓𝘦𝘵 𝘔𝘦 𝘎𝘰 that it was difficult not to make comparisons as it went along. The world is completely different, the characters unique. Yet, with two exceptions, I couldn’t make myself care for any of them. That made the stakes feel less exigent that they should have been.
I also wasn’t thrilled with the pacing. Because there is so much to learn about the world and what is going on, the build-up to the climax took quite a long time. Then once we finally got there, the conclusion rushed past, leaving me somewhat unsatisfied.
There is one passage at the end that spoke to me. Years after the main events, in a conversation between Klara and Rick (the childhood friend and love of Josie), they speak of the genuineness of Rick and Jodie’s love, though they had drifted apart. Rick tells Klara, their love was real because of what they shared, and they would be part of each other forever because of it.
And it made me think of friends I once agonised over losing. It was a comfort to read Rick’s conviction, that no matter the distance, the time they shared would always be theirs. And just because something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean it wasn’t real.
The book left me with such a bittersweet twinge. It’s truly impressive how Ishiguro has this ability to draw out conflicting emotions like this. That, perhaps, is what makes his books worth reading, regardless of preferences. I’m glad I read this book.
I guess he didn’t make such a great impression. He gets awkward sometimes. But he’s a special person. When I get sick and I try to think of good things, I think about all the stuff we’re going to do together.
People often felt the need to prepare a side of themselves to display to passers-by—as they might in a store window—and that such a display needn’t be taken so seriously once the moment had passed.
It must be great. Not to miss things. Not to long to get back to something. Not to be looking back all the time. Everything must be so much more….
At the same time, what was becoming clear to me was the extent to which humans, in their wish to escape loneliness, made maneuvers that were very complex and hard to fathom.
Do you believe in the human heart? I don’t mean simply the organ, obviously. I’m speaking in the poetic sense. The human heart. Do you think there is such a thing? Something that makes each of us special and individual?
But then suppose you stepped into one of those rooms, and discovered another room within it. And inside that room, another room still. Rooms within rooms within rooms. Isn’t that how it might be, trying to learn Josie’s heart? No matter how long you wandered through those rooms, wouldn’t there always be others you’d not yet entered?
‘Hope,’ he said, ‘Damn thing never leaves you alone.’
‘But who says I’m lonely? I’m not lonely.’
‘Perhaps all humans are lonely. At least potentially.’
Mr. Capaldi believed there was nothing special inside Josie that couldn’t be continued. He told the Mother he’d searched and searched and found nothing like that. But I believe now he was searching in the wrong place. There was something very special, but it wasn’t inside Josie. It was inside those who loved her.