Cover Image: Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun

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Told from the POV of an “Artificial Friend”, Klara and the Sun retreads some familiar territory for Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro — the first person narration, the sense of mystery as the character’s reality is slowly established, the examination of identity, love, and human connection — and this book is worth reading for the always satisfying experience of Ishiguro’s literary craftsmanship. But despite being set in a plausible — and not very nice — near future, experiencing this world from the perspective of an artificial intelligence (a child’s companion who only knows what she’s seen and been told) wasn’t entirely mind-expanding. If this had been a SciFi novel — with explicit world-building and prescient conjectures explored to their limits — it could have been entertaining and philosophically challenging; but as Ishiguro deals in capital “L” Literary Fiction, this was more about evoking a mood than prognostication; a compelling reading experience, but I don’t think it will be a memorable one. I’d give 3.5 stars if I could and am rounding down simply because I wanted more from Ishiguro
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This book is a fantastic gateway into science fiction for any readers, like myself, who are hesitant of the genre. Ishiguro's gentle hand imagines a world adjacent to our present one, but where society is being "lifted." Gene editing no longer allows for organic human interaction. Families purchase Artificial Friends for their children, which is how we meet Klara. 

Klara is a constant companion to her human, Josie, who is ill with an unnamed disease. We know she could be on the brink of death. This confuses Klara, whose primary purpose is to remain loyal to Josie, and to make sure she never experiences loneliness. 

At the same time, Klara observes a darker side to Josie, which is relatable to those of us who are highly sensitive. Josie changes when interacting with different groups. She becomes mean. She tries to blend in. And in doing so, she hurts Klara and her true best friend, Rick. 

What struck me most is the way Ishiguro captured friendship: its complexities, pain, betrayal, and disappointment.
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Review // Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

❓Literary Fiction, Sci-Fi

💗 Reflective, Mysterious, Slow-Burn

📖 Klara, an Artificial Friend with incredible observational skills, wants nothing more than to find a loving home. When she's finally chosen from the shop window, she explores the value of love and sacrifice in an ever-changing world.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

"People often felt the need to prepare a side of themselves to display to passers-by – as they might in a store window. Such a display needn’t be taken so seriously."

Kazuo Ishiguro has done again!

No one understands humanity and the human condition quite like Ishiguro. What makes people human? Who's afforded empathy and autonomy? How does class, social structure and technology play into it all? I love how he handles these questions in unique yet universal ways in every single one of his novels.

Klara and the Sun is a slow-burn study of daily life, through the eyes of someone not-quite human. Simple observations became grand adventures, and I absolutely loved how Klara described the things she sees (I'll forever think of smartphones as "oblongs"). Ishiguro even took on fascism and toxic masculinity in new and surprising ways.

As with all of Ishiguro's novels, there's a mystery that weaves its way through the narrative. I read this one in only three days because I had to know what was happening! I did find the twist somewhat obvious and convoluted, and I didn't enjoy it as much as the twist in Never Let Me Go. That being said, the mystery was complex, existential and really made me think.

"There was something very special, but it wasn't inside Josie. It was inside those who loved her."

Read If You Like:
✨ Memorable narrators
✨ Artificial intelligence
✨ WandaVision (really!)
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This is the kind of book you keep thinking about, even weeks after you read it. It's a dystopian tale about a robot named Klara. She is an AF, or artificial friend, that was specifically made to keep a child company in their tween to teen years. Her perspective on the world and the humans she works for was fascinating. It's written for adults but I think it's appropriate for high schoolers too.
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Thoroughly enjoyed, appreciated the ambiguities about cause and effect; the 'trust in the reader' to not be told everything but rather see through Klara's eyes.
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Thank you Netgalley for this ARC of Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Klara is an AF (artificial friend) who waits in a window to be chosen by a child to be their companion.  Then one day a young girl stops by to chat with Klara, and changes everything for both of them.

I felt about the same of this one as I did about Never Let me Go, another novel of Ishiguro's...meh.  The premises are so strong, but the deliveries are so weak!  I loved the concept of an AF with human-esque emotions, and the twisted entanglement she finds herself in with her new family.  But holy cow, it dragged, and it drove me BONKERS that Klara could speak completely coherently until it came to pronouns.

Klara, talking to Rick: "I think that Rick should have a snack."  The word is YOU Klara!  YOU!  

I demand and explanation for that.

I can't say that it's not worth the read, but I don't know that I would knock anyone over to get my hands on it either.
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Another strong book by Ishiguro. Klara was a very intriguing character and I never bored of hearing from her point of view. There were constant surprises in the way that she perceived the world around her. She's both exceptional for an AI but also limited in certain ways. I was always eager to open the book up and continue the story. I highly recommend this title to anyone who enjoyed Never Let Me Go as well.
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If you've read Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go," then "Klara and the Sun" will feel very familiar. The themes are so similar it's surprising the author could get away with it. Klara is an AF (Artificial Friend), waiting in a store to be chosen by a young child as their life companion. Klara's dull existence changes when chosen by Josie, a gregarious child suffering from a mysterious health condition. They live together in the country side, and navigate the social dynamics between children who are "elevated" (and have the means to do so) and those who aren't. [Potential spoiler] It isn't until the end of the novel that "elevation" is fully defined: a biological process through which a child's IQ and abilities are genetically enhanced. Josie's good friend Rick is "unelevated" placing him at the bottom of the social hierarchy. As Josie's illness progresses, her erratic and downright disturbing mother devises a plan to ensure her daughter's spirit will live on in case of her passing. Simultaneously, Klara devises a bizarre plan to ensure Josie's body doesn't cave. 

In "Klara and the Sun," Ishiguro explores the themes of companionship and loneliness in the technological age. Klara is incredibly insightful, supportive, and observant. Yet, she is perpetually defined by her artificiality and never fully integrated among humans. Ironically she is the most generous and caring character in the story. A nice story, don't get me wrong, but one I have read many times before. Ishiguro's clear prose is as compelling as ever but doesn't carry this novel far enough to make up for its predictability.
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“There was something very special, but it wasn't inside Josie. It was inside those who loved her.”

This is one of my most anticipated books of 2021, but duh, it didn't work for me. I was so curious to see what Ishiguro had plotted for us this time, though I have never read any of his work I was excited. I am in awe of how he can create a dystopian atmosphere in his stories, but this one, huh-uh failed to give me the enjoyment.
Well, Klara and the Sun presents readers with a peaceful mode of reading. Klara is an AF and she's oblivious to the reality of the world. She is hyper observed, always watching those around her so closely. Her sensitivity to other people's feelings is intensified to a degree that makes her both deeply sympathetic and a little creepy. This book is written through Klara's POV and there are no many dialogues here, so chances are high that you might get bored reading the plain text. (It was for me)
It took 2+ weeks for me to complete this book, without reading any other books along. That was my first disappointment. I planned to DNF this book, but it's hard and I loved Klara's personality so I had to keep going. Sometimes she made me wonder how smart and well-behaved she is. And at the other moment, she had me shaking my head at the thought of how dumb blind she is about the real world. And I was dumb enough to compare the dystopian world to the real world. My bad. But I must confess that the huge volume of dialogues in this book was really repelling for me and made the story less enjoyable. This was such a slow burn for me and it really deserves all the Sun (stars) but I can't give it. If you enjoy reading about Robots and AI then you will enjoy this one.
This book did me dirty or I did dirty to this book by reading it. I am sorry that I didn't enjoy it as much as others did.
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I was surprised how much I found myself feeling for Klara and wanting to know more about her and the world she inhabits somewhere in the "near" future. I know that Ishiguro isn't for everyone, but I would recommend giving this one a try. I've been recommending this to my patrons to great success.
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"Klara and the Sun" is fantastic. You cannot go wrong with anything written by Kazuo Ishiguro. Highly recommended.
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Wow! Most readers love this book, but unfortunately I do not. I found it a bit dull. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
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Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun is an unusual tale told from the point of view of a AI unit. Klara has been chosen to be a friend to a young girl named Josie, who is chronically ill from a procedure known only as “lifting.” While Klara is programmed only to make conversation, care for her friend, and do simple tasks, she is exceptionally perceptive for an AF (artificial friend). 

Whether it’s from Klara’s lack of outside knowledge or a built-in lack of curiosity, we never know too much about the world the characters inhabit, other than it is a near-future where most parents choose to genetically enhance their children (“lift”). Those who don’t are outcasts, seen as not caring about their children’s future. But the procedure is risky, and not all kids survive the “lifting” process. Josie’s sister did not survive it, but their mother was still intent on Josie receiving the enhancement, believing it would be worth it. 

It’s unclear what sort of enhancement that “lifting” provides, as Josie does not seem to be particularly intelligent or talented, at least as seen by Klara, who only gives observable facts. She does remark at one point that one of the “lifted” children that visits Josie has unusually long arms. Are children born with deformities or deficiencies that require genetic surgery to fix? Or does it gift them with abilities that present later, outside of Klara’s view, that improves their chances of survival in a world overcome by pollution? 

 Having only vague knowledge of the world we’ve been dropped into is a bit irritating but it adds to the sense of melancholy at the ending, a feeling that to me is a hallmark of Ishiguro’s writing. Just a bit more world-building would maybe make this story more palatable to a larger audience, but readers familiar with his work will recognize and enjoy the tone and appreciate the slow burn of realization that occurs after finishing the book.
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Klara and the Sun is SO MUCH my kind of book. I felt like I was holding my breath the whole time I was reading. At first I thought it was going in one direction and then it didn't and then all that time I was just falling in love with Klara's character. I so wanted a different life for her even though she was technically not living at all. This is my first Ishiguro book and now I need to get caught up on everything he has written. I think everyone should read this and then have to discuss it with me :D
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This is a provocative book. The main character, Klara, is an Artificial Friend -- they avoid the term robot but that's the idea although evidently with feet and human features.  The book is set sometime in the future in an unspecified place.

Klara is an absolutely endearing character. It is difficult to think of her as a non sensate being because she often uses her logical abilities to draw emotional conclusions about people and their personalities. There's no joy in this book -- the kids experience bullying, there are ominous political threats of a fascist nature, the interactions between men and women are tense and fraught, and the parent-child relationships are flawed.

Klara's human is Josie -- a teen with an unspecified serious and possibly terminal illness. Her younger sister already died. In this society, the "fortunate" kids undergo genetic modifications to further their intellectual growth and educational opportunity. But it's possible this affects their physical health as well. AFs are common for kids, who seemingly are socially isolated. The scene where kids get together to hang out shows the cost of no friendly interactions -- the kids are mean and snarky and exhibit no empathy.

Klara is extremely conscientious. She tries to help heal Josie the best way she knows how -- by arranging her to be exposed to the same strong sunlight that charges Klara's solar powered system. And Josie miraculously and inexplicably recovers. 

It's a thought provoking book which raises many questions about the limits and possibilities of artificial intelligence. But it's not a happy book. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I really wanted to love this book, mainly based on all the great advance reviews and hype I've been reading, but I just didn't enjoy it. The premise of a future where children would need Artificial Friends is an interesting one, especially in light of the past year of remote learning and isolation of our children, but the book waited too long to explain certain concepts, such as uplifting, and it became confusing and unrelatable. It was difficult to feel a connection to Klara and the book might have been more engaging with Josie as the narrator.
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I had forgotten how much I love Ishiguro's writing. This book is definitely for fans of Never Let Me Go--another meditation on where are society could go with science and an obsession with perfection. I truly think this is a must read.
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I cannot stop thinking about Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. Told from the viewpoint of an AF (artificial friend) I was initially a bit skeptical. How would I connect with the main character? Where was this story going? Quickly I realized that I had nothing to worry about. Ishiguro, in his trademark storytelling, was going to deliver a story that I ultimately wouldn't stop thinking about weeks after finishing. This is a story that connects the dots between what makes us human, what role love has in our humanity and what makes a life worth living. All of these themes touched upon throughout the story by a main character that is both insightful and full of her own questions. I love that Ishiguro doesn't tell us everything, most of the world we are visiting these characters in is left out. But it works. Its a small piece of a larger picture, the characters in Klara's world, but I wouldn't want it any other way. Truly a masterful story and Klara is a character of unforgettable stature.
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I loved Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go and was  looking forward to the new book. It just did not strike a chord with me. I never understood was "lifted" meant, so that may be why I did not connect to story. Did Josie's illness have to do with being lifted? Why did her mother act as if Josie could control her illness? Why was being lifted so bad that the boy's mother did not chose it for him? There just were too many unanswered questions.

I found myself skimming many pages, because the story moved so slowly. It read more like young adult literature to me. I finished it, but I would not recommend this to anyone else.
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Like in his previous novel "Never Let Me Go," Kashuo Iziguro uses the naive main character to observe the world around them as a way to reveal the motives and desperation of humanity. Mothers struggling to provide the best for their children, the unending and haunting grief of losing a child are all seen but not spoken as Karla tries to put together why people do what they do.
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