Klara and the Sun is right up the alley for a Perpetual Beta! All the themes were there: technology, health, family, and ethics. The book is not for everyone, especially if your technology averse, but I would argue that it would behoove those people even more to read Klara and the Sun (cough, cough, Failing to prepare is preparing to fail…)
The novel covers a family in the future, and stars solar-powered Klara, an Artificial Friend (AF). She is known for her impeccable observation skills (seriously I was jealous), rational advice, and faithful friendship. Early in the book Klara shares her life sitting in a store waiting to be purchased, she is particularly close with her manager who does her best to show Klara off in the front window of the store. Eventually she is bought by a well-to-do family for their young daughter Josie, who we learn is a sickly child.
At first Josie’s mother’s intentions seem innocent enough, but later on in the story when Josie’s mother asks Klara to become fully competent at impersonating Josie, the mood turns pretty dark. Josie’s mother, for me, becomes one of the most foreboding but simultaneously human characters of the story. Her ultimate wish is that Klara will become Josie’s continuation upon her passing. Josie doesn’t pass in the end, she goes to college, and interestingly it is Klara that stays in the family home as an outdated and sedate AF.
An even more scary is that Josie has this opportunity to attend college only because she is “lifted” for enhanced academic ability. Cue our second tech theme, genetic engineering. Her neighbor and love interest, Rick, has not been lifted, and although throughout the story we are witness to his natural ability, we also see the hurdles and discrimination he faces in terms of his academic and professional endeavors.
Overall, the author Kazuo Ishiguro excelled at telling this true science fiction story in a very human way. I found the relatable in each character, which does not happen often for me, and found many touching excerpts regardless of the book’s “dystopian” topic.
On that note, I don’t find the whole story dystopian. I think that is a preservation reaction- that humans fear losing their role in this world. Look how much good technology has done for us, especially in medicine and learning. Does it need limits? Absolutely, it just needs to be a diverse group of decision makers. I would in no way want a future where children need to be “lifted” to succeed.
One of the most interesting debates in my book club discussion on this title was the question of Klara. Two of my friends found her “boring,” “without strong opinions,” and “too nice.” I was clearly frustrated at this point in our chat. To me Klara was the definition of kind, loyal, open-minded, and this was her job and design! When Josie asked for advice or Klara’s thoughts, you knew her answers were based on truth AND the best interest of Josie! What more could anyone want in a friend? Is this how jaded our society has become? If we are not bringing the drama like a reality tv series, are we no one?
Have you read this? Let me know your thoughts below!