It must be nice sometimes to have no feelings. I envy you.’ I considered this, then said: ‘I believe I have many feelings. The more I observe, the more feelings become available to me.’ She laughed unexpectedly, making me start. ‘In that case,’ she said, ‘maybe you shouldn’t be so keen to observe. – Kazuo Ishiguro
This book was recommended to me by a fellow SciFi aficionado. I had heard of it in passing but, as I have never read any of Ishiguro’s other works, it was not on my radar. I have seen the movie Never Let Me Go. It was beautiful and so damn sad. I sort of knew what I was signing up for with Klara and the Sun, but still went into it with an open mind.
Klara is an AF (artificial friend) who is purchased to be a companion for children. The first part of the book shows us Klara’s world inside the store and how she perceives the humans and other AF’s around her. Her childlike nature made me fall in love with her and her AF buddy Rosa from the beginning. However, after seeing the world through Klara’s eyes, I couldn’t help but feel the dread building as I became more and more attached to this girl who’s only dream was to be purchased (adopted) and sent to live with and be the best companion to whichever child had chosen her.
I don’t want to give anything away, other than I had to stop reading this book for a week. I could see where I thought the story was going and I was not in the right headspace to watch Klara’s story unfold. I don’t want to scare off potential readers. The story did not go in the direction I expected. It was hopeful and frightening as I got through roughly 70% of the book before some of the major plot points were clarified.
The good: Oh holy hell – sweet, beautiful tropical fish Klara. I want to hug you and shake you and tell you that yes, you are good enough. But there are some things you will never be able to understand or solve on your own.
The bad: Josie was kind of a jerk. Sure, she’s a kid but I was really hoping Klara would abandon her and go live with Rick. This was never a possibility that was hinted at in the book, so no spoilers. The other problem I had was that this was a very long story in a relatively short book. I forced myself to finish it. It wasn’t because the story was that bad. It was that it was just too painful to see it unfold in slow motion. As someone wrote in another review, “I read the entire book just waiting for the other shoe to drop.”