Klara and the Sun is the strange, sweet, and highly enjoyable new book by Nobel Prize-winning British writer Kazuo Ishiguro. This odd fantasy world is typical of what to expect from Ishiguro. The story takes place in a dystopian future where AF (Artificial Friend) robots are purchased as companions for children. The story is narrated by Klara who is an AF. Having the story told from a robot’s point of view may seem odd, but you grow to love Klara as she innocently tries to figure out the world around her. Some things she gets spot on and others she is just plain wrong about. Since this is a dystopian future, sometimes you can’t figure out which things she understands correctly.
Klara is bought by “the Mother” to keep Josie (a teenager) company. Josie is frequently sick. There is a mystery about what makes her sick, what happened to her older sister, and why the Mother has purchased Klara as her daughter’s AF. Klara, being solar powered, worships the sun, and assumes that the sun can heal and help humans just like it does robots.
The story moves along in an engaging manner (it is definitely a fast read). You slowly learn more about this strange world where parents can choose to lift their children to give them an advantage in life. There is a colorful cast of characters besides Klara, Josie, and the Mother. There are the neighbors, Rick and his seemingly crazy mom, the Housekeeper, the Father, the Manager, Klara’s AF friend Rose, and an “artist” friend of the family.
I really loved this book. Hidden within the story is typical Ishiguro commentary on life, love, society, technology, death, what makes each person unique, growing up, and friendship. The book is ultimately a coming of age story.