But then suppose you stepped into one of those rooms,’ he said, ‘and discovered another room within it. And inside that room, another room still. Rooms within rooms within rooms. Isn’t that how it might be, trying to learn Josie’s heart? No matter how long you wandered through those rooms, wouldn’t there always be others you’d not yet entered?
So what’s the book about?
Klara is an AF, i.e. an artificial intelligence created to be a child’s companion and good friend. From the window of a toy shop, she closely observes what is going on outside, studies the behaviour of the customers and hopes to soon be chosen by a young person as a new friend. Day in, day out, she waits in her shop to be chosen by a family and taken along. When young Josie appears at the shop window, Klara’s hopes are high. However, she has already learned one thing from the shop manager: children make many promises, but keep very few of them.
Why I wanted to read this standalone?
Until now, I have only read books by the Japanese author Haruki Murakami and was a big fan of Japanese literature afterwards. I remember when I read Norwegian Wood by Murakami and cried for hours afterwards and even days after finishing the book I was still listening to the song Norwegian Wood by the Beatles. By the way, this song is still one of my favourites. What I particularly liked about this Japanese book was that nothing really happened in it and many might even call it boring. It was a story taken from life, perhaps made a little more dramatic. Moreover, I liked this kind of book, especially because you didn’t know what the book was getting at and you could connect your own thoughts and feelings with what was written.
These aspects attracted me the most while reading.
- The world in which this book is set is not so far removed from our current world and gives us a glimpse of the future, which also made me a little scared. Because as I said, this future is not far away and life seems cooler and everyone seems to look after themselves more. There are now sophisticated artificial intelligences, meanwhile children seem to be genetically adapted to make them better. Schooling is only done from home, the gap between rich and poor is falling back into old patterns, and for the uneducated, access to education has become almost impossible. Incipient problems of today, such as the ever-increasing inability to communicate and the failure to interact with others, have become more pronounced. Yet this is not a science fiction novel that gives special focus to technological developments, but rather how people might change as technology advances more and more.
- Klara is the sun for me. Because Klara gave me the warmth through this cold world that this book needed as a counterpart. Klara is selfless, the way you probably want the perfect person to be, because she just wants the best for everyone and puts herself in the background. You might think that Klara is human, but I have never seen this selflessness and sacrifice for others in a human being – except perhaps my own mother. She adapts so well to the circumstances of life and the different characters that she is actually appreciated or should be appreciated by everyone. Having a friend like Klara would be like having a treasure, as she has a heart of gold.
- However, Klara does not live in a sunny world; people are more like clouds blocking out the sun. Because the characters show that everything is transient, that words often only arise from a moment and do not stand for eternity. The solidarity and bond among the individual characters is feigned and even if one often suspects that they have a second of enlightenment in which they have acted correctly, they fall back into old patterns and simply carry on as before. Instead of being there for family or friends, they look for other ways to maintain family life. In our supposedly solidary, highly developed and reasonable society, there is a gaping abyss that keeps getting bigger and bigger. Despite the ever-warm and hopeful undertone, the novel is rather bleak. We humanise everything, but at the same time – to achieve perfection – we are pushed to give up our own humanity.
- Again, you notice in this Japanese book that there is not really an exciting story here, but it is more about the everyday complaints of life. I didn’t even get bored reading this book, but devoured it much more. But even though one wonders about the meaning of this story all the time, the real meaning of it only became clear to me after I had read the last 10 pages of the book. Because you review everything and only then did I realise what a bleak world Klara lived in and I also had to shed a few tears. Sadly, I realised that we humans often don’t understand what our actions can do to others.
So what are my final thoughts about it?
Love here is definitely not only in the romantic sense, but also for interpersonal relationships in general. For me, this book was very intense, full of questions full of truths and full of shattering speculations. Among other things, he uses many metaphors and a very gentle, sensitive, sometimes almost poetic way to create images that are incredibly profound to contemplate on closer inspection. In all his words, the depth is practically obvious and it is now up to the reader to want to fathom it, or just to swim along on the surface. Nevertheless, sometimes I missed the climax a little, because the tension and the feeling about the book always remained at the same level. Faced with people and society on a collective ego trip is Klara, who questions love, loyalty, hope, memory, life and people. The ending is incredibly touching and kept me engaged afterwards. “I have my memories to go through and place in the right order” and that’s exactly how I felt after finishing the book.
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