Review: Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys DaytonStronger, Faster, and More Beautiful
Arwen Elys Dayton
Delacorte Press
Published on December 4, 2018

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
About Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful

For fans of television shows Black Mirror and Westworld, this compelling, mind-bending novel is a twisted look into the future, exploring how far we will go to remake ourselves into the perfect human specimen and what it means to be human at all.

Set in our world, spanning the near to distant futures, Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful is a novel made up of six interconnected stories that ask how far we will go to remake ourselves into the perfect human specimens, and how hard that will push the definition of “human.”

This extraordinary work explores the amazing possibilities of genetic manipulation and life extension, as well as the ethical quandaries that will arise with these advances. The results range from the heavenly to the monstrous. Deeply thoughtful, poignant, horrifying, and action-packed, Arwen Elys Dayton’s Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful is groundbreaking in both form and substance.

My Review
The concept of Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful hooked me from when I first heard about it. I tend to be really gripped by stories that explore a moral issue (medical advances in this case).

Rather than one cohesive novel, this story is more like a series of connected novellas set in the same story world. Sometimes one story references events or characters from another story, but the main characters are always different. Each approaches the issue in a slightly different way. One story asks, should people allow doctors to give them synthetic organs following an accident? Does that come too close to playing God? Another follows the lives of people considered second-class who’ve been physically altered to allow them to be a kind of super slaves.

In terms of the characters, most are flawed but looking for answers and facing some regrets from the past. Sometimes this made them immediately likeable, as with Alexios, a boy who’s been edited to have dolphin skin and flippers and lives in an aquatic place, taking care of manatees, and Luck, a girl who has a forbidden love for her best friend. Sometimes I had a hard time seeing past the flaws. For instance, I had a harder time connecting with Jake, who used to pressure girls to have sex and Milla, who took revenge on a boy who made her life miserable.

I kept thinking back to both of the books by Parker Peevyhouse that I’ve read while I was reading Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful. It reminded me of Where Futures End in the way each of the six stories related to each other but didn’t necessarily overlap. And the way it wrestled with science and morality reminded me of The Echo Room. I think Parker Peevyhouse fans will really enjoy this book. If you enjoy Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful and you haven’t read anything by Parker Peevyhouse, definitely check out her books, too.

Stronger, Faster and More Beautiful on AmazonRecommended for Ages 14 up.

Cultural Elements
Major characters are white or not physically described. Starlock, the boy who Luck loves, is dark-skinned. One story features a couple of Russian characters. One minor character is gay.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used irregularly. Some sections (like the last one) are pretty clean with regard to cursing. Others (like the one which follows the two slave boys) have more frequent use of profanity.

Romance/Sexual Content
Two characters have sex in the back seat of a car. It’s kind of an odd scene because she feels somewhat conflicted about it and sort of detached at times. No crude details, but you know what’s happening. Later, the boy she had sex with lies about the experience and she gets bullied and shamed.

In another section, a boy makes a girl undress to her underwear. He has no intention of harming her physically, but she’s scared. In a flashback sequence, we learn that one character used to pressure girls and manipulate girls into having sex with him to win a bet with his friend. He later regrets the way he acted.

One character confesses to a friend that his father caught him in a sexual situation with another boy. There are some details about what they were doing.

A boy and girl kiss. A girl catches her lover asleep with another girl. Later they go to bed together. They have sex but there aren’t any graphic details.

Spiritual Content
As medical technology advances, some religious groups oppose .

Violent Content
Some references to and details about human slavery.

Drug Content

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful on Goodreads

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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