I had high hopes for this. The themes interest me: AI, Ubiquitous Computing, Big Data and Gene Editing combined to create an AF, a sentient ‘Artificial Friend’ who is bought to cheer up a terminal teenager and told from the AF’s point of view. This is Kazuo Ishiguro’s first book since being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The reviews say things like:
With its hushed intensity of emotion, Klara and the Sun confirms Ishiguro as a master prose stylist.Evening Standard
There is something so steady and beautiful about the way Klara is always approaching connection, like a Zeno’s arrow of the heartThe Guardian
A masterpiece of great beauty, meticulous control and, as ever, clear, simple proseThe Times
I can see what they mean. The prose is simple and beautiful. It’s like watching sunshine on the water. Klara’s voice is pure and curious and engaging. Yet I abandoned the novel at 25%. I found myself asking ‘Why am I reading this? It’s beautiful but slow, has almost no forward motion, does nothing to engage my curiosity, doesn’t tell me anything new and is about as entertaining as watching a river flow gently past’
I was reminded of a quote from Austen: ‘If this man had not twelve thousand a year, he would be a very stupid fellow.‘ I asked myself: ‘If this man had not a Nobel Prize for Literature, I would not read another eight hours of this.’
I should probably give the, ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ speech at this point. I’m sure this is a fine book and many people will love it. But I’ve been in various levels of lockdown for a year now, I’ve spent way too much time ‘in the moment’. I want a book that doesn’t take my attention for granted but gives me a reason to keep reading. ‘Klara and the Sun’ isn’t that book.
If you’d like to try it for yourself, click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample of the audiobook. Sura Siu‘s narration is a beautiful as the prose.