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August 2022

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Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Four Stars

Best for:
Those who like deep, emotional, thoughtful novels that are more character driven than plot-driven.

In a nutshell:
Klara is an AF waiting to be chosen by a child.

Why I chose it:
Never Let Me Go remains one of my absolute favorite novels. I saw all the great reviews this one was getting and decided to pick it up.

Review:
It’s hard to speak about specifics in this book without spoiling it, so … I think I’m going to spoil it. Before the spoilers begin though, I can say that I enjoyed this book, I thought it was interesting and raised some amazing questions even beyond the one in the blurb: ‘What does it mean to love?’

Okay, now spoilers.

* * *

The only quibble I have with this book is the first part – the part set in the store. I understand why it is there, and it definitely does give us insight into not only Klara but the world that allows for a Klara to exist, but I didn’t enjoy reading it much. Once she was chosen by Josie, however, I was sucked in.

It wasn’t until the end of the book that I actually understood what ‘lifted’ meant (at least, I think), and that the decision to genetically alter the children was what killed Josie’s sister and was close to killing her, and that Rick’s mother had chosen not to follow that route. A society where this is not only normal but apparently a prerequisite for ‘success’ in life is terrifying. And the fact that it can lead to death – that parents are willing to risk death rather than allow their children to exist without genetic modification.

The concept of AFs (I assume Artificial Friends) is also terrifying. I mean, I get it – society seems to have gotten used to AI in things like website chatbots. But having one assigned as a friend, to watch over one’s child, essentially spying on them, but also maybe being their servant? Yikes. Especially given all we come to know about Klara and how she can think and feel. She is brilliant in so many ways, but she doesn’t have a full view of the world, and her obsession with and treatment of the sun as a god is fascinating but also feels almost child-like. She can gain knowledge but it seems as though she can’t quite gain the maturity that would allow her to be more like an adult. And maybe that isn’t a bad thing, because so many people become crueler and less hopeful as adults.

The ‘portrait’ storyline also lead me to actually drop my jaw. Like, the idea that the AF could learn who Josie was by interacting with and studying her for a few years, and then ultimately BECOME her was chilling. I’m not a parent but I still think I can understand the visceral appeal of having a way to not lose one’s daughter (reminds be of a film I watched on AppleTV earlier this year – Swan Song), but wow that seems so extreme.

And the very, very last few pages? Broke my heart.

There is so much going on in this world, and it’s amazing how Ishiguro can build this world where there really are only a handful of characters we get to meet. Nothing is so explicit, and there is very little exposition. And yet I can picture the home, the town, and the society so very clearly.

This book will stick with me for awhile.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
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