CBR13 BINGO: Book Club (Obama’s Summer Reading List 2021 & Good Morning America’s Book Club)
Ishiguro writes the kind of books that you can’t discuss too much without giving away the plot. In the most simple synopsis: Klara is an artificially intelligent robot that can be purchased to be a child’s bff. Initially showcased in a storefront window, she is soon supplanted by newer models and relegated to lesser and lesser positions in the store. While languishing in a shady corner in the back of the store, she is finally purchased as a companion for a sickly teenaged girl named Josie. Of course, as the story goes, Klara’s role may be much more than just companionship.
This is a weird one. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it. Like Never Let Me Go, this book made me anxious. And sad. Or anxiously sad? See what I mean? I think its the tone but also the dreaded “I-know-this-is-going-to-have-some-weird-and-terrible-ending” thing you come to expect from authors who have written at least one “some-weird-and-terrible-ending” book.
The naiveté of Klara and the matter of fact tone set off ALL of my warning bells. Things must not be as they seem. Klara does not see the whole picture so WE cannot see the whole picture. Danger is around every corner. Something wicked this way comes.
Ishiguro writes books that seem like simplistic carry-ons at first but so much is stuffed inside every little hidden pocket that no way is it going to make the weight requirement. That baggage is gonna be CHECKED. I could spend days unpacking what’s going on in this novel: the destruction of the environment, technology replicating what it is to be human, science enhancing what is already human.
However, one of the MANY interesting topics that stood out for me was the parent/child relationship. While this book is set in a dystopian future where desperate parents scramble to give their children EVERY perceived advantage (including artificially created idealized “friends”), our very real present has wealthy people getting their kids into competitive colleges based on fabricated athletic prowess. It’s a little chilling to think that this dystopian future is hitting closer to the present than we’d like. Let’s face it, rom-coms have satirized parents applying to the “best” pre-schools for their unborn babies for decades. Wasn’t there always a kernel of truth in that exaggeration? Technology is just the engine to propel that.
Poor Klara is the repository of all of the other character’s angst. The artificial “friend” that can be confided in without consequence or judgment. A comfort for the loneliness without the need for all that pesky reciprocation.
After I wrote this review, I went back and found my review for Never Let Me Go which was my 4th review EVER for CBR way back in CBR3. Pretty much the entire review for that book was the same as my thoughts above. A decade has not changed my core reaction to Ishiguro apparently: an out-of-body reading experience waiting for the shoe to drop.