January, or the Monday of the year, as I call it, is almost over. Finally! While we tackle winter sicknesses of all sorts, I surprise myself with a review for a book that has not been published ten (or twenty, or thirty) years ago. I am in with the cool kids, with this one! Well, I had heard good stuff about this one, I was bookless and I have a quick finger when I am buying stuff for the Kindle, and so here we are.
What is it about?
This is the story of Klara, who is an AF (Artificial Friend), or what we all know as a robot. This is the story of Klara and Josie, the kid she is sold to to be her AF. We have a very limited view of the world through Klara’s eyes, so we can assume it’s some sort of near-future world in which something has happened and robots are a thing but not everyone likes them and, besides this, some shit is done to kids when they are teenagers to enhance her brain capabilities. Klara, being a robot, of course has a limited knowledge of how humans interact, what is going on around the world, etc. And this is all you are going to get.
What makes it good?
If you do not know Ishiguro or do not like him, I am not sure this book will have you onboard with him. The story is slow paced and maybe some people could call it unremarkable. To me, it is a fascinating portrait of the life of a robot. He does not re-invent the wheel, I am sure there are tons of good robot stories out there, but the fact that you see everything solely from Klara’s point of view allows you to make what you wish of her surroundings, and draw your own conclusions, which is something that I wish I could find more in entertainment of any sorts these days. You are left making up your own distopia, and no one at any points comes with a big lengthy explanation on how this or that happened. Also, Klara in her weird sort of way, is a lovely character, and you just like spending the lenght of the novel with her.
In true Ishiguro style, this is a quietly well written story. He certainly knows how to write, despite what they can say out there. I do see though how people could find this boring. I certainly did find “The remains of the day” quite boring, but then I was a student and so I am not sure I trust my 19-year-old self’s judgement. I found that his quiet moving forward and his lyrical style were befitting of Klara’s story. So in this specific instance, I am not grated or annoyed by the slow movement of the story.
Also, in this case the first person narrative not only makes sense, but it is quintessential to the noval. Without first person, we can’t see fully Klara’s lovely and perceptive personality.
When I will look back at “Klara and the sun” in a couple of months, it will leave a nice impression on my mind. Even if the dystopian near future is there looming in the background, I find this story one of serene peace. Klara is certainly a character you like, despite it being… Well a bit weird, because she ain’t human, after all. I can guarantee you that I have met people who, despite being human, have less empathy and less social skills than her.