Tag Archives: Science Fiction

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: The Dreamers

The Dreamers

The Dreamers
By Karen Thompson Walker
Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780812984668, November 2019, 336pp.

The Short of It:

This book originally came out in January 2019, way before our own pandemic hit and yet, the pandemic detailed in this story could have been taken right out of the headlines of today, minus the sleeping illness, of course.

The Rest of It:

The story takes place in the fictional town of Santa Lora, California. Santa Lora is a sleepy little college town (pun intended). Many of its residents work at the local university or at the very least know someone who goes there. In the dorms one day, Mei notices that her roommate is still sleeping although morning has come and gone. Her attempts to wake her are futile. The girl will not wake.

In another part of town, people are falling asleep where they are whether that is in the middle of a jog or walking the family dog. As more and more victims are discovered, the government is called in along with several medical professionals to determine what is actually happening. Is it psychological? Is the water contaminated?

As the story unfolds and the situation becomes more dire, Walker introduces us to the survivors as well as those who will eventually succumb to the sickness. What does it all mean? Why do some wake and others don’t and why are they different after surviving?

So much of this story resonates with me, given the pandemic that we are currently living with. The way the sickness spreads, the lack of understanding in the early days of the sickness, the conspiracy theories hinting at government control. The true winner here is the way Walker plays with dreams and memory. Some of the survivors remember vivid dreams that they had while sleeping. Some feel they are premonitions of the future, others believe they are memories from the past. What’s real anyway?

There are a lot of characters but they are all so distinct and their situations unique enough where I never felt confused over who was who or what was going on. It’s very well done. I cared enough about each of them to worry about their survival and that says a lot.

If you can tolerate a book about a pandemic, and I must say a sleeping sickness sounds a lot better than what we are dealing with now, then pick it up. Someone on FB said that when they read fiction now, they feel uncomfortable when reading about gatherings without masks and the like since they are so conditioned now to meet safely. Well, you won’t have that issue here because masks are the norm in this story.

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