Klara is a solar-powerted humanoid robot bought as an Artificial Friend for teenager Josie by her mother. As the story progresses it is revealed what may have caused Josie’s undisclosed illness. Her mother has an ulterior motive for buying Klara, one which is opposed by Josie’s father. A boy called Rick, living nearby, has made plans with Josie to stay together despite the fact that he is now considered “different” by people in the community. The story is told from the point of view of Klara as she diligently offers friendship and care to Josie, observing everything that happens in the family.
“Do you believe in the human heart? I don’t mean simply the organ, obviously. I’m speaking in the poetic sense. The human heart. Do you think there is such a thing? Something that makes each of us special and individual?
“… people often felt the need to prepare a side of themselves to display to passers-by – as they might in a store window – and that such a display needn’t be taken so seriously once the moment had passed.”
“One never knows how to greet a guest like you,” she says. “After all, are you a guest at all? Or do I treat you like a vacuum cleaner?”
A touching story with big themes – love, equality, faith, discrimination, pollution, Artificial Intelligence and more – this is an original take on a society of the future. The point of view of Klara – naive and innocent, but quite perceptive due to her talent for observation. I found this novel to be both a thought-provoking read, and an endearing character study. Highly recommended
The Guardian: “The Booker winner’s brilliant eighth novel expands on his theme of what it means to be not-quite-human, exploring love and loyalty through the eyes of an android. Ishiguro has written another masterpiece, a work that makes us feel afresh the beauty and fragility of our humanity.”
Kirkus: “A haunting fable of a lonely, moribund world that is entirely too plausible.”
LA review of Books: “The novel cannily uses delay and withheld information to ratchet up our worry, taking time to disclose the source of the menace. We know something horrifying is going to be uncovered, but we don’t know when. From the start, a reader is fully immersed in the first-person perspective of a robot, an Artificial Friend, Klara. Ishiguro is not so much a stylist as he is supremely gifted at constructing dramatic events, both reveals and turns. The voice is so nonintrusive, so endearing in its transparency and simplicity, it works without interference. I glided along. However, the simplicity and transparency of the prose is deceptive — what happens in the novel is psychologically deep, an attempt to dive all the way down to the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench.”