Tag Archives: Kazuo Ishiguro

Review: Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun
By Kazuo Ishiguro
Knopf, 9780593318171, March 2021, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Love, loneliness and loyalty are front and center in this story about friendship.

The Rest of It:

Klara spends her days at the store, rotating positions with others. Some days she is in the shop window and able to watch the busy people rushing past the shop, interacting with others and living their lives. Other days, she is moved to the back of the store. On these days, her only view is that of others in the store and she can’t help but yearn for more hours in the window. Hours where she can feel the sun’s warmth and personally experience its rejuvenating effect.

Klara is an AF, an Artificial Friend. Although there are newer models with more advanced features than what she can offer, Klara is spotted by Josie, a young girl and instantly, Josie is sure that Klara is the AF for her, but the two do not meet at that moment. The mother needs more convincing and so Klara, although hopeful to find a new home, is moved to the back of the store again.

Months pass and Klara has all but given up hope, but then there she is, Josie. Klara’s heart is bursting at the sight of her but she can’t help but notice that Josie doesn’t look well. So as Klara is taken to Josie’s home, she quickly realizes that Josie is a special girl and that not only will she be Josie’s best friend, she will also be the one to notice her rapid decline in health and be the one to do something about it.

What a story. It’s a little weird and sad and somehow manages to hit on all the things we are feeling now. Disappointment, loneliness, isolation, hope. What does it mean to be a friend to someone? How can you love a person when you are in fact a machine? What happens when your purpose conflicts with your heart?

You might think that it will be difficult to feel much while reading this story about what is essentially a robot but think twice. Remember that episode of the Twilight Zone, Sing the Body Electric? Bradbury wrote the script and it later became a story with the same name. Anyway, I felt all the emotions while watching that episode and I felt the same way here. Ishiguro presents an AF who is almost too human and I loved her. I loved her gentle observations and her willingness to sacrifice herself when needed. Truthfully, I am a little sad now as I just turned the last page not long ago. This story will sit with me for a long while.

If you are wondering about the title, it’s all explained in the story and probably represents many things but I will keep my thoughts to myself so that you can consider the meaning yourself.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go
By Kazuo Ishiguro
(Vintage, Paperback, 9781400078776, October 2010, 304pp.)

The Short of It:

Hauntingly sad, poetic and beautiful.

The Rest of It:

*No obvious spoilers.

The story opens with Kathy H., who has been a “carer” for over eleven years. As she tells her story, the reader is taken back in time to her years at Hailsham, a boarding school located in the English countryside where she was friends with Tommy and Ruth. There, they took classes on all sorts of subjects and were told over and over again by their guardians, that they were special.

Yes, they are special. Very special indeed. What the reader figures out pretty early on, is that these children have a special purpose. However, the children do not know exactly what that purpose is. They just know that they are special, and during their time at Hailsham, they are given information to help them understand that purpose, but not in plain words. Not in a way that they would easily understand.

The school experience is like what you’d expect. There are cliques and teachers who test the administration with their actions. Although Kathy, Tommy and Ruth are very close friends, they have their moments, too. As they grow, they begin to realize their purpose and the dawning realization of what they are, creates tension in ways they are not often prepared to deal with.

This entire story is peppered with clinical aspects. Hailsham is very hospital-like and lab tests are the norm. Since these children really don’t know of a life different from their own, they are somewhat happy yet deep down, they yearn for something more. They just don’t know what.

In one sense, Ishiguro’s delivery is cold as ice. Everyone possesses an aloofness that is slightly off-putting. But, there is a tenderness…a softness to the characters that will make your heart ache. These characters yearn for what they don’t have, yet they have resigned themselves to the lives they’ve been given. They will never really love, because to do so, would mean losing it in the end. They can never have children, or get married or live to a ripe, old age. What they have, is the pleasure of knowing that they’ve lived their life for a purpose.

This book reminded me a lot of The Unit, which has the same premise but uses adults instead of children. In a lot of ways, this book was harder to swallow because it dealt with children, yet Ishiguro handles the topic expertly and I found myself thinking about these characters many days after finishing the book. Its coldness melted away and became profoundly touching.

I haven’t seen the movie, but now I really want to. You can view the movie trailer here.

Source: Borrowed

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