Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro: Review & Recommend | LATEST RELEASES

For once, I’m actually reviewing a book not long after it was released! I’ve read some of Kazuo Ishiguro’s other work and enjoyed it, so I preordered Klara and the Sun a few weeks before it was released. I knew it was speculative fiction, which isn’t a genre I usually read, but it’s one that I definitely want to read more of. And this book didn’t disappoint!

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book is the way information is fed to the reader. There’s very little exposition or explanation about the world itself, and instead, the reader has to pick up hints throughout the book that eventually come together to provide a somewhat hazy, but fit for purpose, idea of the world in which it is set. I didn’t really feel like the narrative needed any more explanation than it was given, and I like the way you kind of stumble along, picking up little crumbs as you go which eventually throw light on earlier parts of the book. I will admit I was left curious, because certain things are never explained in depth, but not in a way that detracts from the narrative, just in a way that makes me want more!

The point of view character, Klara, is an AF, an artificial friend. The exact purpose of the AFs isn’t really explained, but they act as a companion for teenagers. When we first meet Klara, she is in a department store, waiting to be picked. The AFs get different turns in the prime spot in the store: the window. There are multiple benefits to being in the window: the AFs are able to look out at the street, which is something Klara in particular enjoys, and they are also more likely to be seen and chosen. And, perhaps most importantly, they are able to see the Sun. AFs seem to run on solar power, and therefore see the Sun almost as their God. The Sun energises them, and Klara sees the Sun as a sentient, benevolent being upon whom she calls for help throughout the narrative. How accurate her beliefs are is certainly up for discussion, though the majority of the narrative paints her trust in the Sun as somewhat misplaced.

The other characters in this book are reasonably sparse. In the department store there are a couple of characters who play reasonably important roles in the early part of the book, but for the majority of the book the important characters are Klara, her teenager Josie, Josie’s mother, and Rick, Josie’s friend. Later on the book also introduces us to the mysterious figure of Mr Capaldi, an artist creating a portrait of Josie. The character I found the most intriguing was Josie’s mother, but I also thought Josie and Rick were great characters, with a really believable friendship. All of the characters were well-developed, and really kept the narrative pushing forwards.

As a narrator, Klara was super interesting. As an AF, she has a different perspective and way of thinking that is communicated very clearly and effectively throughout the book. Her thought processes are somewhat naive, but she is in no way unintelligent. She perhaps lacks some of the nuance that makes humans stand out from one another, but her natural curiosity, compassion and sensitivity makes the reader fall in love with her. Despite my belief that Klara’s belief in the Sun, and the subsequent mission she goes on to please the Sun was misplaced, I was still rooting for her to achieve her goal, because her belief was so convincing. As the story is told through Klara, the writing style is overall fairly simplistic, as Klara is not really prone to poetic thoughts or gaudy descriptions. While I do appreciate elaborate styles, the simple is often very effective, and it certainly works for Klara and the Sun.

If I had one criticism of this book, it would be that it ended too abruptly. Towards the end, a new potential plot point is introduced with Klara, and the story jumps forwards and ends without fully exploring the effects a certain choice has on her. I do wish that the book could be expanded slightly to explore this element of the book sooner, but I did like that it ends with certain things about the world, and about AFs that was never fully explained, only hinted at. I will definitely be reading any interviews Ishiguro does about this book to try to fill in some of those gaps, however, because my curiosity has to be sated!

As I’m sure you can tell, I really enjoyed this book and I found it a very thought-provoking way of looking at the world. The world of Klara and the Sun is not so different from our own, and it was easy to imagine AFs entering our world and becoming as popular with young people as they are in the book. The moral complications around AFs was also explored somewhat in the book, which was also an interesting way of looking at our own lives. We may not have AFs, but one of the complaints about them in the book was that they had taken jobs away from people, and it is true that in our world, more and more jobs are becoming automated. I think for now, I’d rather stick with friends of the non-artificial variety.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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6 thoughts on “Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro: Review & Recommend | LATEST RELEASES

  1. […] Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro. 4.5 stars.Ishiguro’s latest speculative fiction release was a big success in my opinion. In this book, we follow Klara, an Artificial Friend, and her teenager, the sickly Josie. The world explored in this book mirrors our own in many ways, but also varies in important ways as well. It’s a great read, and anyone who enjoys speculative fiction should absolutely be trying to get their hands on a copy. Not to mention the cover is gorgeous! My review is here. […]

    Liked by 1 person

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