March 3rd 2022
Today I put in a special effort to finish reading Klara and the Sun for World Book Day, and I think that I found myself disappointed.
I have a habit of reading reviews of a book after I’ve finished reading them, so that I can ingest anything I may have missed. Unfortunately, I am the type that is swayed by reading reviews. If I read a bad two star review it’ll convince me that I didn’t actually enjoy the book as much as I thought I did, and that’s kinda where I am now.
See, when I started reading the book the thing I loved about it was how slowly it revealed the story. It didn’t just open itself and vomit some exposition at you, it drip fed you the information as the character learned about it. It deliberately used words which clearly had a meaning which had not yet been defined.
That brought with it a sense of mystery and intrigue, and I was keen to finish the book to find out more about the world in which it was set.
Except the thing is, that information never came. The world was never revealed. The story was completely insular to the world around Klara, and, as Klara was a robot serving a specific function, the rest of the world was intentionally not well explored.
Occasionally words like “lifted” and “resistance” and “replaced” were dropped in and it gave you enough tidbits of information to piece together a rough idea of what had gone on: Genetic engineering and artificial intelligence have advanced to a point where robots can replace humans, if we let them. But… nothing happened?
And like I get that nothing was supposed to happen. It wasn’t a novel about the resistance, it was a novel about Klara and her unique ability to observe humanity, but, I don’t know, I expected more.
The first 100 pages were so clever, as Klara was integrated with the Arthurs, and then became Jodie’s caregiver. I appreciated the dig at religion with the whole “praying to the sun for a miracle” thing. Of course the sun can’t hear you. It’s the sun. Similarly, of course god can’t hear you. God didn’t heal your daughter, doctors did. Grow up.
And then, when the miracle happened, Ishiguro realised that there were some loose ends to tie and so did so in one rushed, hurried final chapter, and then literally threw Klara out in the trash.
Until tomorrow, I think I expected more.