Interesting casual reading, functioning as a warning for parents against genetic editing of their children and for children not to rely on “Artificial Friends” for companionship.
Ishiguro has depicted once again a dystopian world like his Never Let Me Go which entertains, but serves the didactic function of literature more. The novel is an admonition for parents, showing the negative effects of “uplifting” their children by genetic editing. The work also serves to caution children and young adults not to rely on the AFs (Artificial Friends) created for them.
One thinks immediately of the hundreds or thousands of “friends” whom many young people have on social media services like Facebook or Twitter. Is the art of friendship so lost among our youth that they rely on the sanitized profiles of anyone on the Internet?
One part of the plot is weak and implausible. Klara, the AF for the human Josie, plans to destroy only one machine which she thinks will help stop the pollution that she thinks is responsible for making her human feeble. Since AFs are supposed to be intelligent, if Klara were that intelligent, wouldn’t she know that much more would be necessary to save the life of her human? Despite this weakness, the narrative proceeds strongly enough so that the reader doesn’t know with certainty until page 243 that being “lifted” means that children are enhanced by “genetic editing.”
Is the moral of the novel, then, that it’s perfectly human for kids to be stupid? Not necessarily. Besides, if any parent wants STOOPID kids, then he or she will send his or her children to public schools and then leftist colleges or have them vote Democrat.
There are, however, two conclusions one can reach from the novel.
First, work with the abilities that children naturally have.
Second, yank those damned Xbox and phones saturated with social media apps out of kids’ hands and then kick the kids out of the house to play in the back yard with other children.
A penultimate thought: religious readers will see through the stupidity of those adults who come close but never near enough to recognize that human beings have souls. Witness the following passages where characters hint at that bit of immortality given to them by God yet never reach it:
“Our generation still carry [verb tense in original] the old feelings. A part of us refuses to let go. The part that wants to keep believing there’s something unreachable inside each of us. Something that’s unique and won’t transfer. But there’s nothing like that, we know that now” [….] It’s not faith you need. Only rationality” (207, continuing on unpaginated 208)
Similarly, Josie’s father seems to think that the “human heart” is “Something that makes each of us special and individual” (215).
Dear God, are there that many people in the reading public who can’t understand religious language?
A final thought: the last paragraph in the novel, which shows Klara in a junkyard, waiting for a construction crane to take her away, is sheer pathos since Klara seems more human than the human characters.