Book Review: ‘Kazuo Ishiguro’s- Klara and the Sun’

Klara and the Sun is a science fiction book that enticed me by its amazing book cover and the name of the writer – Kazuo Ishiguro. He is the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017. So when I picked up this book, I had only good expectations. Let’s read this book review to know whether the expectation has been fulfilled or not.

Book – Klara and The Sun

Author – Kazuo Ishiguro

Pages – 303 pages

My ratings – 4 out of 5 stars

Genre – Science Fiction

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It is a book cover of the book Klara and the sun for the book review of this book.
Image Source – Amazon
[ Cover book review – The cover is minimal in design with no element pointing towards it being science fiction or any genre to be exact. The relevance of the sun symbol can be, however, be ascertained after reading the book.]

Book Summary of Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun is the story of a futuristic human world where humans are advanced and genetically more developed from the present world. They not only use genetic engineering to advance themselves but also have AFs (Artificial Friends) with them. These AFs are artificial robots or AIs that become a companion to their genetically engineered children.

Almost every child has an AF of their own, except those who could not afford it. The AFs come in variety and range too, with each generation adding something new to it. They are supposed to be the companion of the child while the parents go away on task and keep reporting the development of the child to the parent. These AFs are not just any robots or AI but they have their sense of right and wrong, they feel good or bad and some even go to the extent of explaining the things and presenting their opinions to the child with whom they are stay9ing.

This book begins with the point of view of one such AF, Klara. She is in a storefront, waiting to be chosen by some child who would want her as their companion. Her mind works like that of a child, a very observant child. In the beginning, it seemed that I was reading it from a child’s perspective, but slowly as the story progresses, the understanding dawns upon the readers that Klara is not just a child, but a very observant and intelligent AF who evolves as she is introduced to several new situations.

Book Review of Klara and The Sun

In the story, there is Josie, the companion to our AF who is suffering from sickness due to lifting. Klara is there to talk with her and take care of her. Along the way, Klara encounters Josie’s mother and other people who are a part of Josie’s life. They all slowly become a part of Klara’s life too. As the sickness worsens, Klara starts finding ways to save Josie. Other members of the family have their trauma and fears to deal with when concerning Josie. Through Klara, we can see various facets of the human mind and conscience.

Writing Style of the Book

The writing style of the book is not generally suitable for science fiction. It never explains the concepts of ‘lifting’, ‘AF’, and other advanced technology that has been casually discussed in the story. The readers keep on guessing and deducing the meaning of the objects through subtle hints and references the author hides beneath layers of words in the story. The characters are all described through the perspective and understanding of Klara. Klara has been presented as a smart AF who acts like a human and is more capable than a human but still is not human. It is apparent from the writing style that at moments in the story Klara is more human than the humans surrounding her yet she is not a human. The double-layered meaning of the story can intrigue many readers and raises multiple questions about the present-day world.

Other Aspects of the Story

There are multiple characters in the story introduced to us through our protagonist Klara. At times in the story, it might seem like Klara is also reading a story where Josie is the protagonist as everything revolves around her and her illness. The childlike innocence of Klara yet the clear understanding of the human world and the human actions present a contrasting and conflicting image to the readers.

In this book review, I am going to discuss multiple themes that are explored by the author.

Main Theme of the Book

The main theme of the book is the dystopian world where AFs are needed by the children to have a companion and friend instead of just having other human children as friends. They all are so focused on productivity that society in the sense we know is losing its essence. The children are genetically engineered so that the best traits of a child can be enhanced even though the process, known as ‘lifting’, can lead to lifelong illness and in some cases, like Josie’s sister, death. Parents are ready to take these risks to provide for a good education and good life for their children, even if it means losing their children in the process if anything goes wrong.

Lifted and Non-Lifted Children

Through the example of Ricky and Josie, one not lifted and another lifted but ill, the author explains to us the dilemma of a parent in choosing either of the options. Klara is the only one who makes any rational sense in the story. Even though the actual human characters swerve between their decisions, she knows what to do. The importance of the sun and the impact of pollution are also discussed briefly in the story. The lifted ones have to face the challenge of life and death whereas non-lifted children have to give away any opportunity for life improvement. In the future world, only one college provides an opportunity to non-lifted ones.

Family Relations and Grief

The story also explores family relations and separation. It elaborates indirectly on the topic of the loss of a child and its impact on the parents. The casual comments of the neighbor pour light upon the family that might seem perfect to anyone but is struggling. It is a strange book to read with layers and layers of emotions and understanding hiding beneath it.

Is Klara and The Sun going to be turned into a movie?

The answer is Yes. Film rights to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun have been acquired by Elizabeth Gabler at 3000 Pictures, with help from Drew Reed at Sony, in a pre-empt. The film will be produced by David Heyman and Rosie Alison at Heyday Films. 3000 Pictures is a joint venture with Sony Pictures and Harper Collins. (Source – RCW Literary Agency)

Conclusion of the Book Review and Recommendations

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and was able to read it in 3 days. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. We all had expected something more scientific in this book as this was a science fiction book. However, to compensate for it, this book contains a lot of layers and human emotions for us. I would recommend this book to someone who likes books with multiple themes and an undertone of a dystopian world. Also, this was my first book by Kazuo Ishiguro and I had no previous experience. So if you love his writing style then you can pick this up for sure.

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