If robots take over the world someday, as some people fear, I hope they will be as nice as Klara, the narrator of Kazuo Ishiguro’s immensely appealing novel.
Klara’s story begins in a retail store where she stands in a display window, waiting for someone to purchase her. Eventually she becomes the property of Josie, a sickly teenage girl. Klara is an AF, an Artificial Friend, assigned to keep Josie company as she struggles with an illness that keeps her homebound.
Rick, Josie’s boyfriend, has a promising career as an engineer if he can rise above his “unlifted” social status. Klara’s mission is to do what is best for Josie and encourages Rick and the girl’s family to be optimistic about her future.
Klara knows only what she can perceive from observation, or what Josie’s family will allow her to hear. Therefore, she believes the sun, which is the robot’s source of energy, is the key to Josie’s recovery. Other people in Josie’s life have different solutions in mind.
We learn a lot about this futuristic world through Klara’s experiences. Some people are dependent on AFs for advice, while others resent them or consider them low-class citizens. As for Klara, she is more concerned about a machine whose pollution may be causing Josie’s illness.
Ishiguro’s poignant story leaves some unanswered questions that made me ponder humanity’s fate as we become increasingly reliant on technology. We can at least hope to be as optimistic as Klara.
Although the novel contains occasional instances of offensive language and profanity, I am happy to recommend it.