Book Review: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara and the Sun explores one of today’s more controversial topics – artificial intelligence and what happens when technology advances to the point where robots really are almost human. The novel is slow-paced, but nonetheless an interesting read.

I read Klara and the Sun for the 2021 Thoughtful Reading Challenge. August’s challenge was to read a book with the sun on the cover. Interestingly, as I scanned through my humongous library wish list, I found plenty of covers with clouds but very few with suns. That either says something about my taste in books or that novels in general tend to be not so sunny.

Klara is an artificial friend (AF) who spends the first part of the book in a store with other AFs, waiting to be chosen by a child to be their friend. She is a particularly observant, curious, and empathetic robot and it’s interesting to hear her observations as she tries to make sense of the world she sees outside the shop window.

Klara and the sun

Klara is finally chosen by Josie, a sickly girl who lives in the country. Klara soon turns her observational powers on members of the household and Josie’s friends. As Klara narrates, it becomes apparent that something sinister is going on with Josie’s illness and her mother’s plans for Klara.

But Klara is a naive and obedient robot who willingly goes along with the plan. At the same time, she persistently seeks a cure for Josie, believing that the same sun that provides Klara’s nourishment can also save Josie.

Klara and the Sun tackles some interesting topics. In addition to the rise of artificial intelligence, Kazuo Ishiguro explores parental love, the meaning of being human, and one possible version of a society where robots have displaced many workers.

Klara was a very sympathetic character with qualities better than most of the humans in the story. She was compassionate, thoughtful, and altruistic. But she wasn’t human. She lacked the negative emotions – such as envy, defensiveness, and anger – that really make us human.

Overall, I give the book a thumbs up, but because of the slow pace, I would also say Klara and the Sun is not for everyone.

How about you? Did you read a book with a sun on the cover? Tell us all about it!

**Reminder – September’s challenge is to read a book with pirates in it. 🏴‍☠️🦜

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

  1. I really enjoyed learning about this book. I’ve read Remains of the Day by Ishiguro, which is a very different kind of novel, and found him to be a remarkable author. The premise of Klara and the Sun sounds fascinating – thanks for letting us know about it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review Michelle. I hadn’t thought about Klara not expressing negative emotions but that’s a great point. This was a peculiar book for me. As you said, not a lot really happens but yet, I have been thinking frequently about the book since I finished it. For me, I guess it’s kind of a slow burn? Even so, not sure it makes my list of best reads for the year.

    Also, I kept wondering if maybe I was missing something? Were there metaphors and symbolism that I am not smart enough to pick up on? Quite possibly! Was the sun supposed to represent a higher being, God maybe? Regardless, it was an interesting read but not really a page turner.

    The plan of the mother was really creepy and I guess in the future could actually become a real issue? That will be a strange world. I also found it interesting how insightful and quick to learn that Klara was yet the fixation on the pollution machine and the sun didn’t make any sense. I guess that’s because she’s not actually human and Ishiguro draws the distinction.

    As I read my review, I see that I have a lot of questions. I guess that accurately sums up how I felt when reading this story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hadn’t heard of Klara and the Sun. I might give it a try via the library and see if it keeps my attention.

    I read On the Horizon by Lois Lowry, which connected the events of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima with her own life and that of others. It’s written in verse and moving and powerful in its simplicity, although it’s also a short work–read within an hour, but well worth a second read. I found it to be a lovely tribute to the lives lost or changed during WWII.

    Liked by 1 person

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