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Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful

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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.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published December 4, 2018

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About the author

Arwen Elys Dayton

6 books689 followers
Arwen Elys Dayton is best known for her 2012 novel Resurrection and the YA Seeker trilogy. She began her career as a teenage staff writer at a foundation that produced Peabody Award-winning educational shows for PBS. Soon afterward, she began writing novels.

She spends months doing research for her stories. Her explorations have taken her around the world to places like the Great Pyramid (which she explored by flashlight when researching Resurrection), Hong Kong and its many islands, lots of ruined castles in Scotland, and the cold cities around the Baltic Sea. She enjoys creating complete worlds inhabited by characters who charm, frustrate or inspire.

Arwen lives with her husband and their three children on the West Coast of the United States. You can visit her at arwenelysdayton.com and follow @arwenelysdayton on Instagram, or reach her by email at arwenelysdayton@gmail.com.

She is represented by Jodi Reamer at Writers House.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 618 reviews
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
June 18, 2019
Does that mean that humans, as a race, have allowed imagination and beauty to infiltrate their lives with each passing generation? Or have they destroyed imagination and beauty by capturing and codifying them? In which case—am I the final result?

I… absolutely loved this.

So this is an exploration of the world in the future, with technology but mostly with genetic engineering. but there's something about it that really made it stick out for me - throughout, this leaned into discussions of privilege, who gets modifications and who doesn't, who gets forced into modifications and who doesn't, because at the heart of this conversation on genetic engineering and technology and our future is a far larger and far more consistent question - who gets to decide on the humanity of others? where do we draw the line at human and subhuman? and we have drawn these distinctions for centuries, for millennia, we as a species, but when we talk about the future we always assume power will somehow become a thing given by merit. but power is neverbased on merit - it is based on privilege and money and in the very best case scenario, what we might call merit-based growth, it is based off pure dumb luck. and not since The Hunger Games have I seen a book about the future lean into that reality.

So I suppose what I'm trying to say is that every story in this book is about genetic engineering, but every story in this book is also about the people who wield power. It is frighteningly rational that one man makes an impact on every story in this book, sometimes criticizing and sometimes normalizing but never, ever giving up the power he has been given by a society desperate for a guide.

I’ve talked about thematic overlays, but each story stands fairly well on its own too. The first story follows Julia and Evan, semi-identical twins semi-merged in a landmark surgery. The second story follows Gabrielle, a girl who is definitely not morally good, and also Oppression. The third story… should not be spoiled, and contains a lot of very fucked-up religious overtones, and the title is an allusion to The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

The fourth section is my favorite of the book, and I just realized it (possibly accidentally) follows the plotline of the poem, and also discusses how human beings will always alienate those with different brains. The fifth section is the second section again, evangelism of the normal.

The sixth section is essentially reverse colonialism, and a reverse of the fifth story and the second, a detail I found confusing at first; but in the end, I found it a brilliant commentary on the human tendency to reverse prejudices to where they suit us. Who is human and who is subhuman is a matter of opinion no matter what side it comes from.

This had a few sections I just wished went further, and I’m not sure everyone will enjoy this as much as I did - it's certainly a certain taste. But I would highly recommend to anyone intrigued by the description.

release date: 4 Dec 2018
Arc received from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review.
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Profile Image for Amber (Ambee's Bookish Pages).
502 reviews56 followers
June 5, 2018
The full review + more can be found at The Book Bratz

This book was absolutely amazing. Spanning over hundred of years it shows the evolution of humanity with the advances in science that have been made. This book was brilliant and thought provoking as well as terrifying and undeniably real. This book is something that can’t be missed in 2018/2019.

I didn't realize this was an anthology when I had requested it, so I was a little skeptical since I am not the biggest fan of anthologies but Ohmygod. The stories interconnect with a Reverend and his daughter over hundred of years worth of time. Stronger, Faster and More Beautiful was captivating, I couldn't read it fast enough and I was sad when I finished because I really wanted more.

If you think about it, a lot of the things that Dayton talks about in this book are already happening or on their way of happening so her ideas aren't far fetched in the least. My favorite story in this anthology had to have been the last one. It's set far into the future where there is a huge divide between genetically modified humans and "protos" humans that have never been altered. It brings up the question of what species is more superior and if genetically altered people are a whole new species with in themselves.

Stronger, Faster and More Beautiful brings up an array of questions as you read. It makes you think about the future and how things can go horribly wrong. It brings up with question of whether or not any of these things ethical and where the cut off is for ethical and unethical modifications. This book will be one to stand out in my mind for a long time to come and it will with out a doubt stay in everyone else's mind as well.
Profile Image for Arlen.
96 reviews3 followers
June 13, 2018
Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton
Publication date December 4, 2018
Read courtesy of NetGalley.com


There was a tadd* of a thread throughout this book of consecutive stories. Amazingly well done and thoroughly enjoyable. I will definitely be getting this for my library!

Each story could be a stand alone, but they are also smoothly interwoven... and thought provoking. The first vaccine, first heart transplant, and first clone (remember Dolly the Sheep?) perpetuated the human ability to dream of a stronger, faster and more beautiful human. Dayton has helped us imagine some of the future possibilities, and some we'd like, while others we'd find quite disturbing. And that's the point.... to consider what our tinkering could mean to our future. Butterfly effect, ripple effect, call it what you want, but Dayton masterfully creates realistic what-ifs (realistic what-ifs: is that an oxymoron?)

I enjoyed every story in here. None of it felt redundant, repetitive, or reused. The uniqueness of each possible inevitably (another oxymoron) kept me turning those pages. Bravo, Ms. Dayton. I accept the challenge to work through these oxymorons in the hopes that it keeps humans from simply becoming morons.

*intentional spelling 👍👌
July 17, 2019
Stronger, Faster and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton

Read the full review and more at Blame Chocolate.

🤖 A big thank you to Harper Collins / Harper Voyager for the review copy. This has not influenced my opinion in any way. 🤖

Stronger, Faster and More Beautiful was a very pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting to get invested in a genre I rarely read but it happened and it made me want to reach for ones like this more often! (Feel free to make recommendations)

It was incredibly well-written, had an almost perfect grasp on characters and situations, the world-building, again, was very well conceived and structured... So, why only four stars? I'm not sure.

I still struggle to find any real flaws with this book other than my emotional availability (or lack thereof). Which means you'll probably enjoy it immensely if you like YA sci-fi fiction.

I mean, freaking Hank Green, Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman raved about it - if that doesn't make you want to go and get it, I don't know what will.

Bottom line: yes, I do recommend you give this book a go!

4 stars

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Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,384 reviews11.8k followers
December 7, 2018
If your publisher recommends your book to fans of television shows "Black Mirror" and "Westworld" and your book's blurb says "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", you'd better deliver something superb, which "Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful" is definitely not.

Instead, it takes the issue of genetic and physical modification, and examines the absolutely most basic moral questions associated with it, while framing in within the most basic tropes of YA fiction. If you can only assess the pitfalls of genetic engineering via stories about bullying, bad teen dates, kissing, Bible-thumping religious zealots who have nothing interesting to say from a religious perspective beside “monsters!”, and Russian gangsters doing bad things (while speaking incorrect Russian - PET PEEVE alert!) you, as an author, are out of your depth. Sorry.

Who's done this thing better?

For one, check out Paolo Bacigalupi's work - "Tool of War" for teens, "The Wind-Up Girl", "The Fluted Girl" for adults.

Or, the queen - Margaret Atwood - her MaddAdam trilogy.

Images of the fluted girl and chikinobs are forever seared in my psyche. Thanks a lot, Paolo and Margaret!
Profile Image for Dirk.
1 review
June 27, 2018
I just finished Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton! (received an ARC from the publisher.)

I LOVE this book! I could not put it down. I have read all of Arwen Dayton's books and am addicted to her imagination, characters and stories. They take me on a journey whereby I feel I am watching a great film when reading.

With these several stories, the author took me on fascinating adventures and got me to consider and look at new viewpoints on science, progress, bodies and moral choices. Arwen Dayton's writings take me inside of her character’s often unspoken thoughts, hopes and sensations even when somewhat taboo, personal or even unattractive. She makes me want to be with them and feel what they are feeling. The excitement of early or first love jitters and nervousness is written wonderfully. I am intrigued with the relationships as they develop and the moments of jealousy and wondering who will end up with who and the hoping, but not knowing. I admire how the author deals with injury, death, destruction and ugliness as well as how she brought me into this world with the smells, visuals and even horror. I see and feel it as I read it.

I also enjoyed the hopefulness at the end of each story as well as the promise of a new chapter for each of the characters. Each story within the book feels like a film or the basis of one as there is a universe for each even though they are all related and tie together. I feel like I am watching a film when reading and can’t wait to find out what happens next. I find them very inspiring.

And, like a true book addict…I want more!
Profile Image for Sarah Forester.
4 reviews2 followers
June 27, 2018
I was given an ARC of "SFMB" by a friend and read it last week on vacation. I'm intrigued with the idea of genetic modification, and since I enjoyed the "Seeker" series, I was eager to dip into another of Dayton's worlds.

What a ride! SFMB was incredible. The "Dolphin Boy" story (no spoilers) was by far my favorite.

This book is about a future that is both exciting and terrifying. I loved it.
2 reviews
June 27, 2018
Book: Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton

I thought this was one of the most imaginative books I have read in a long time. Very different from her Seeker Series, though they were also imaginative. In many ways this book is more disturbing, dealing with real possibilities in our future and because I can see how something potentially great can get really screwed up depending on who uses it and for what purpose. Enjoyable, out-there read!
246 reviews2 followers
July 14, 2018
Stronger, Fast, and More Beautiful is an intriguing read. It will leave you wondering how far we can and will take genetic engineering/human modification. Just because we can, does it mean we should?

The book consists of six parts containing different stories that are related to the main idea (genetic engineering/modification). The beginning started a little slow for my taste but as the stories continued, I found I could not put the book down. Each story was unique. If you enjoy Sci-Fi stories that are focused on genetics or thought-provoking books, you will enjoy this one.

You will find yourself asking questions throughout the book such as: Do our genetic defects makes us who we are? Without modern medicine, how many of us would be here? Should we be prolonging life? Modification/genetic engineering is already happening, but at what point will it stop? Who says what is ethical in medicine and where the line is drawn? How will humans ruin this?

I hope there is a follow up book. This would make a wonderful TV mini-series/movie (if done right- meaning The Wachowski’s)

Trigger warnings/parental advisory: swearing, some sexual situations (making out, touching, pairing up to mate), religion (a reverend is tied in with the stories), death, some violent situations (accidents, slaves, killing).

Overall, I give the book 4 ½ stars and recommend it.

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Molly.
1,202 reviews52 followers
October 20, 2018
This book, a set of short(ish) stories set in the distant future when gene-editing has become a reality, is unexpectedly sweet and terrifying all at once. I don't want to say much about the plots, as it is honestly such a delight to read - one of the best books I have read this year, hands-down.
Profile Image for Andrea Reader.
4 reviews1 follower
June 27, 2018
I read an Arc copy and couldn't put it down. It has everything in it that I love. The reality of what the future brings, great love story and heart. I have been telling everyone about this book!
Profile Image for Alexandra.
2 reviews1 follower
June 28, 2018
I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this book! I was given an ARC by the publisher, and having really enjoyed Dayton's Seeker series, I thought this would be of a similar ilk. It's just completely different, and really really special.

As some other reviewers have stated, yes, it is in the same family as the Black Mirrors of today, but "Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful" is a more intimate look at the good, the bad and the gnarly of where technology could take us. These several short stories are interconnected by the advancing world they live in, and even though you only have a short while with each, Dayton draws you in to every reality and emotionally connects you with the main characters instantly. I couldn't put it down, and, in fact, was left wishing there was more. I wanted to learn more about the world, more about the later fate of each character. The book left me with my own thoughts and imagination sparked.

Can't wait to re-read or listen to the audiobook when it's actually released. 5 stars.
Profile Image for Sheryle.
413 reviews
September 22, 2018
Wow! This book was a winner from the first page to the last. Each of the six stories was so interesting on its own, but, tied together by a thin and frightening thread, they made up a truly remarkable story. Before starting the book I thought it was going to be more on the light side; perhaps looking at how physical modifications might effect one person at a time, in both the near and more distant future. Instead, it took a much broader look at what could happen throughout the world of the future. By telling these six stories, each further into the future, the reader is taken on a wild ride of “just because we can, does that mean we should?” This well-written, fast-paced book was hard to put down and will stay with you long after it is finished. It is definitely not to be missed!

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
1 review
June 29, 2018
A subtle wisdom weaves its way through the interconnected stories that make up "Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful." What will be the outcome of genetic modification of bodies when the world has not yet caught up with knowledge of the humanities and ethics? What is the effect of these developments on human beings and their ability to love without reservation? Dayton's writing contains wit, humor and a vital intelligence, drawing characters from the inside out, giving us the gift of feeling what they feel, so we can’t help but fully embrace them and their stories. The dialogue is real and pulls us along with "just enough" action and suspense, a little bit of outer space gore, and a whole lot of understanding of human beings. People made into machines, machines that are part-people, technology that does not exist, but could. And in the first story: Spirit. Technology that saves lives but then develops to a point of madness, even while linked intrinsically with aesthetics. What is the effect on religion and how does religion affect these events? One character appears throughout all the stories, "Tad Tadd," a religious extremist who has inspired genetic modification into the future. This character, well delineated in Part Three, becomes a shadow, a myth and an idol as the book progresses through Part Six. A quote from Dr. Seuss, “From there to here/From here to there/Funny things are everywhere,” heads the last chapter. Anyone who has read “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish” as a child has come to believe that life can assume any shape or form. This is almost ironic in the light of Dayton’s last story which is a slap at eugenics and contains little humor but much lyricism. (There is quite a lot of witty dialogue in the earlier stories, which carries one along like a little inner ribbon of light.) In the last story the fanciful, yet fated creatures are the product of man’s “arrogance,” an insatiable vanity, and one can feel Greek tragedy in the background, man’s “hubris” having led him to these extremes…but unlike the sad Greeks, people emerge with love as eternal answer, not bowing down to any god, real or artificial. Bravo Ms. Dayton. Her best book yet. A cliché: "I couldn't put it down." (I am guilty.)
Profile Image for Jasmine.
436 reviews703 followers
February 5, 2019
***Actual Rating: 4.5/5 Lucky-to-be-Human Stars***

”How much of you is real?”

Oh, man, this book makes me feel so good about being a human. To begin with, Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful consists of six stories, demonstrating six different (yet somehow connected) scenarios of what artificial intelligence (A.I.) may be capable of in the near future. Each story showcases how the cyborgs may coexist with human beings and start to blend in our initial world without being noticed at first. Unlike what most of us believe, these robotic creatures may not want to wipe the entire human race out. They’re quite easy to get along with and they’re also social animals, just like us! The only significant difference between these cyborgs and humans is that the former are nearly immortal (well, technically, they are not mortals but still!), and that scares me a little. *You’ll see why when I further elaborate…*

Since there are six short stories in this book, I’ll just break down my thoughts into six parts as well. Here we go…

[PART ONE // Cyborg Twins]

The first story is about a twin brother trying to live for his dying twin sister because her body’s failing her. However their parents are in disbelief, the doctor insists that the brother should accept his sister’s organs, including her heart, so that at least one of the twins can stay alive. As bizarre as it seems, pumping another person’s heart to live may be the only solution for the twins, and I’m surprised by the invisible yet strong bond cyborgs have. What impresses me more is that A.I. twins do exist! Honestly, before reading this story, the idea of cyborg twins has never ever come across my mind. So color me shock when learning this teeny tiny fact about them!

[PART TWO // Cyborg Couple]

Milla is a part-human, part-robot creature while Gabriel is a human. They sort of have a crush on each other but after Gabriel takes advantage of Milla catches a glimpse of what Milla’s made of, he may not seem to be as reliable as a boyfriend should be. People talk. Rumors spread. Bullying happens.

In Milla and Gabriel’s story, I find their romance a bit disturbing yet mesmerizing since they prove how forgiveness can become a universal language, an ultimate solution, and the catalyst for the elimination of bullying/rumors with the help of advanced medical technology. The best part about their ending? Problems are solved and the world’s getting back the peace it deserves. In general, I think cyborg couples are worthy of living on Earth after all.

[PART THREE // Cyborg God]

When it comes to cyborgs, who would’ve thought that they have some religious beliefs just like humans do? Reverend Tad Tadd is the well-known Cyborg God and as sacred as that sounds, there’s something relatively shocking to me: People actually ”reuse” their deceased family member’s eyes and hair just to symbolize the eternity of life. In all honesty, the concept here is all fresh and original to me and I’m utterly fascinated by it.
In a very short time, we will be able to create novel structural elements, forms that don’t naturally occur in the human body—forms that we haven’t yet imagined. I find myself a pioneer, daunted by the infinite size of the frontier.

[PART FOUR // Advancing Cyborgs]

The fourth story in this book is my least favorite since all I’m aware of is how well these cyborgs are in translating various languages—from human’s communication tools to animals’—and that enhancing their levels of vocabulary is simply a piece of cake. Despite my general lack of interest, I’m fairly intrigued by the usage of anagram in the characters’ conversations. Apparently, the author’s creativity knows no boundaries!

[PART FIVE // Cyborg Betrayals]

This time, the A.I. sensation expands from the U.S. to Europe and throughout Jake, Kostya, and Yulia’s escape to Siberia, the secrets they keep have put their friendship to the test. This story gives readers insight into the life of a cyborg slave, the betrayal between similar species, and how cancers can be cured by implementing, once again, advance medical. Although there may not be anything in common in the topics above, I can guarantee that this tale proves how multidimensional artificial intelligence can be.
None of the reconstructed people could cry actual tears anymore, and yet half the slaves openly wept, by gesture and by sobs, at the sight of their bodies becoming covered by what looked like human flesh. When you had been remade, any sign of your old self was precious. Jake was crying with the rest. There was nothing left, really, except his remembered humanity, and this artificial skin was a reminder, a gift.

[PART SIX // Cyborg Civilization]

Last but not least, we’re coming to the end of the story and let me tell you how incredibly well-done this story is. I’m awestruck by the realization that cyborgs are, in fact, a brand-new generation of living creatures. These A.I.-enhanced “people” aren’t here to annihilate the humanity; they’re here to recreate their very own civilization just as the origin of homo sapiens who appeared millions of years ago did.

Interestingly, it never occurs to me that there’s an evolution for cyborgs to transform their half-human, half-robot being into a fully-developed creature. That is, even though they can function pretty well on their own, they still have to undergo some sort of metamorphosis in order to become part of us, which totally broadens my horizons.

To sum up, Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful is a splendidly written, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED story with unforgettable characters, mind-blowing plot twists, and shocking revelations of cyborgs. Each one of the six stories shows the possibilities and limitless potentials of these A.I.-featured creatures.

As intimidating as A.I. may sound, I’m delighted to say that this book makes me think differently because knowing that as invincible as cyborgs seem, their process of blending in is very likely to bear a resemblance to ours, which provides me with the kind of confidence and strength I need when facing the unknown future. As a matter of fact, this book empowers me so much that I indeed feel much stronger, faster, and more beautiful about being a human. :-)
At that moment, Luck understood something new. There were horrors and there was death, there was evil and arrogance and apathy. But more than these, there were friends and there was hope. There was her life on the Rez and there was the wide world. And there was love. The bad things collected, but so did the good—and the good, she grasped, was more important than the bad. You could look past the bad if you wanted. Each good thing Luck had experienced, each good thing she had learned, built upon all of the others and added up to one thing which she felt completely for the first time:

[Bonus: Mini Playlist inspired by the book]

*The Last Time by Taylor Swift & Gary Lightbody

*E.T. by Katy Perry ft. Kanye West

*Human by Rag’n’Bone Man

***Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an e-copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.***
Profile Image for Scott.
290 reviews295 followers
February 10, 2020
Arwen Alys Dayton.

Remember that name.

Judging from her incandescent collection Stronger, Faster and More Beautiful Dayton is an author with real talent, a writer destined to make a mark on SF.

Stronger, Faster… is a series of short stories that deal with the technological modification of the human body and the broader effects such manipulations might have on us and our world.

If you’re groaning at the prospect of short stories, then hold up! This isn’t your standard collection of random, disparate works. Technically, the stories here are discreet narratives, but they each link into a broader chronology, and reference the same world and developing culture, so together they have a coherence that feels more novel-like than many story collections.

In short, the smaller parts of this one sum to a wonderful, satisfying whole, while still shining diamond-bright on their own.

While the collection starts well, things really kick off with story number two, starring Milla, a young American girl who has been rebuilt after a terrible car accident, her broken body knitted back together with a mix of technology and synthetic flesh. So far, so Cyberpunk, but what gives the story its unique flavour is the mileu in which Milla is moving – a world where the new science of modification is being openly attacked by religious groups, leading our protagonist to keep her injuries and tech-salvation a secret.

No one at Milla's Catholic school - where people like her are sometimes derided as ‘robots’ – knows the extent of her augmentation, and she takes pains to appear ‘normal’. The tension (In herself and at her school) this causes when she begins teenage dating is fascinating and convincingly told.

Things escalate somewhat from here.

A few stories in and the advance of time has seen the development of humans comprehensively modified for undersea work, for flight, and in pursuit of conforming to outlandish and garish fashions. Pro and anti-modification camps begin to argue against each other, then draw battle lines that divide the world into modding and non-modding nations, a new cold war springing up between Russia and the USA over how much an individual human should be able to change themselves.

From the dating problems of a teenage cyborg we find ourselves following a pair of fugitives attempting to escape across the hostile territory of the extremely anti-modification Russian Federation. Our two protagonists are escapees from an extraplanetary Russian asteroid mine, a futuristic gulag where undesirables are sent after being made into augmented mining machines, their bodies more metal than flesh. (it seems that Russia, while not allowing personal body modification, is happy to turn convicts and non-citizens into cyber-slaves). I felt echoes of Phillip K. Dick in this one, and Dayton spins a story worthy of inclusion in any best-of-SF compilation.

The other stories are similarly interesting, and IMHO there isn’t a weak one in the book.

If I were to compare Dayton to other writers, then Stronger, Faster, More Beautiful reminds me of the best aspects of David Mitchell’s two short story ‘novels’ - Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas. Like Mitchell, Dayton is a deft plotter, and spins an engrossing story that spreads across centuries of history. Unlike Mitchell, Dayton hasn’t pulled the (admittedly neat) trick of dividing her individual stories up into multiple segments though, so the flow of time is one way, and the narrative builds steadily towards its satisfying conclusion with no stylistic diversions.

Stronger, Faster and More Beautiful is seriously impressive. I’m going to track down copies of all of Dayton’s other SF work, and I’m very much looking forward to reading more of her.

4.5 nervous cyber-teenagers out of five.
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,110 reviews1,010 followers
December 5, 2018
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

Where oh where to begin? Well, let's start with how fabulous this was, and then actually, let's just never stop. In fact, when trying to write about it, all I can come up with are things that make me want to shove this into your hands immediately, so let's just go with that, yeah? Great.

Reasons to grab thyself a copy ASAP:

•It is terrifyingly plausible how human beings would do both the most amazing and most awful things with medical science. Ah, we humans are a fun bunch, no? We can be giving and caring to a fault; we can be cruel and selfish just as easily. Add messing with actual biology to it? Oh you know that is going to be a trip. We as a species rarely have the self awareness to realize that we're crossing lines or going too far. And this book showcases it all- the good, the bad, the morally gray. And there's nothing I love better than the morally gray!

•The format is fun! It's actually not one story, but six separate stories artfully tied together. They all connect, but they're all their own entities. It's extremely well done, too. I have read books like this before that didn't quite hit the mark in this regard- the stories either felt too disconnected or too similar- but the author truly does this format justice. I knew I was in the same world, the same overall novel, but each story seemed new and exciting. (Incidentally, my favorites are the first and last- they're kind of perfect.)

•I had many feelings, so many feelings. Obviously this book is thought provoking, but more than that, it's emotive. Which is no small feat considering the stories were all separate. No matter, I cared about each one of them.

•There was honestly nothing I didn't like. Like okay, guys. There were bird people in this book and I didn't hate them! Do you understand the significance? It is real.

•The science stuff was so freaking fascinatingYou can tell that the author really did her homework, because wow, it was handled well. Also, there's an interesting twin scenario that sent me down a very long Wikipedia hole and I have zero regrets. Nothing ever seemed too simplistic, nor too hard to follow.

•I was basically unable to put the thing down. I so, so badly needed to know what was going to be the next bonkers thing that human beings did, that I kept "one more chapter"-ing it. And at the same time, I wanted it to go on forever because frankly, I could have read 100 stories about this world, especially the way the author made me care about the characters so quickly!

P.S.- If you weren't necessarily the biggest fan of  Seeker , but this sounds up your alley, I urge you to try it! I was a little hesitant but I am so, so glad that I did! One of the best books of the year for me!

Bottom Line: Oh for goodness sake, just read the thing. If you like sci-fi, or futuristic stuff, or just find human behavior interesting, this is absolutely a book you don’t want to miss!
Profile Image for Kate.
1,216 reviews2,211 followers
April 15, 2019
4.15.19 edit - upping this to the full 5 stars cause this book hasn’t left my brain since I finished it


Maybe a 4.25? I REALLY enjoyed this! It’s a collection of 6 well length short stories that show the progression of America if it was to start genetically modifying humans - a concept we have actually already begun in our world. I would HIGHLY recommend this to fans of Neal Shusterman because of the modern day commentary in a dystopian/scifi world that stems from our own world today. Really enjoyed it, again. Id say my favorite stories are #2 and #5
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,402 reviews989 followers
January 30, 2019
This was a genuinely thought provoking and highly engaging set of six stories, imagining a future where bodily enhancement is off the scale, offering both huge advantage but also distinct ethical issues.
The author takes us into the future, first just a little and then further and further down a dark and twisted path for humanity. Each story tells the tale of one affected character, each is utterly compelling and intriguingly believable, offering up human drama on a quietly emotional scale.
Linked by one religious figure and his daughter, the lyrical and involving prose digs you deep into each separate narrative, from a quirky edgy kind of love story to the boy who talks with dolphins and beyond. Each separate tale is fascinating, darkly beautiful and will make you really consider how far might be just too far….
Stronger Faster and More Beautiful is a cautionary tale of our time, done with intuitively intelligent questioning, of the reader, of our world and of exactly what it is that makes us human.
Completely brilliant. Highly Recommended especially if you like your reading to challenge your thinking.
Profile Image for Samadhi.
11 reviews
October 30, 2018
This was such an awesome book. I takes place in different parts of the future and all of the stories are connected by one guy. In the future people are changing the way they look and its crazy to the point where they might not even look human. Everyone should definetely read this book.
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
587 reviews818 followers
May 9, 2020
I was so excited for this one and very much expecting to love it, so I was really sad that it didn't completely click for me.

I think a lot of people will love it (see Lili @ Utopia State of Mind who wrote this wonderful review here) but I think it just didn't click with me, honestly.

The concept was perfect and something I totally could have loved--a set of multigenerational stories about the effects of altering humans so they're, well, stronger, faster, and more beautiful.

I'm a huge sci-fi fan so I love anything a little speculative and a little science based and very commentary-based about science. I think it's interesting and if you're someone who likes this too, then keep on reading because this still might be for you.

And the ideas Dayton incorporated were awesome--lots of plotlines explored with the different effects of this on so many groups of people through many many years. It let Dayton explore a very dynamic set of problems, and this was a super unique take.

But ultimately, this is what made this book's downfall (for me). I felt like Dayton never really went enough in depth in each topic, but rather brushed over each one in the stories.

There were six stories and some of them were really brief, and others were a little too long in my opinion (the Russian one near the end especially). I think the lengths were very dynamic and it didn't really link up for me.

Similarly, it also felt pretty segmented, and even though I see where Dayton added overlaps plot-wise--I felt like the subtext and the symbols of each story didn't perfectly match up or link as well as I wanted it to.

I don't know, I guess I'm not huge on the short stories concept and I kind of would have preferred a more traditional format with a more central plotline. I don't think Dayton executed this badly, but I just also don't think that it was what I was expecting, and that threw me off guard.

Yet, it still remains that the concept was really interesting and strong, and I think the impact was one of the highlights of this book. It made me think a lot about the idea of altering humans and how one small thing for medicine can lead to a lot of greater implications in the future.

I think what Dayton did cover was done well, and I am a bit picky for wanting more.

This would definitely appeal to someone who (1) is ready for that short story format and (2) is interested in reading about this topic.

Overall, I still had a good time reading and sped through this book. I would definitely recommend Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful to people who find the concept and premise interesting and is ready to really explore a wide range of topics over a long period of time and see some of the implications of this, but maybe not go so deep into it that things become overly complicated.
Profile Image for The Captain.
1,065 reviews358 followers
December 11, 2018
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

This novel contains six interconnected stories that showcase the possibilities and potential problems that could result from medical science.  Apparently the author's first thought when reading about gene editing was "This is it! We'll be able to eradicate disease, extend our lives, turn humans into superhumans!"  Her second thought was "We will definitely find some way of messing this up in a spectacular fashion."  She uses this novel to explore the space between the two thoughts.

This was an engrossing read whose beautiful writing kept me captivated.  The six parts explore organ transplants, synthetic organs and robotic parts, religious questions surrounding medical ethics, genetically designed children, cryonics, and body modifications.  But this list does not do these stories justice.

Because behind the background of the medical and scientific marvels posed by each chapter, ye also get a brilliant look at the human morals, personalities, and conflicts involved.  Each section poses new questions.  All questions are challenging.  The answers are unexpected or non-existent or both.  This book makes the reader think and feel.  Each jump in time and technology is plausible because of what came before.  And yet when the end is reached, the landscape seems unfathomable.  And possible at the same time.

I highly recommend this book.  Part four was me favourite though all of it was so very good.  Words don't really do it justice.  It has to be experienced.  A fantastic book that the whole crew should read.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Random House Children's / Delacorte Press!

Side note: much thanks to me matey, Paul @ paul'spicks for making me aware of this book's existence.  Arrr!

Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...
Profile Image for Rebecca Allen.
Author 7 books8 followers
March 10, 2019
I requested this book from NetGalley based on a recommendation from an author I love:

"An alternately charming and horrifying exploration of what it means to be human and how far we'll go in pursuit of personal and societal 'perfection.' I devoured this book." --Kiersten White, New York Times bestselling author of And I Darken

It lived up to that! The book is a series of short stories, each with a different set of characters living out possible futures that employ today's emerging technologies more broadly. The stories range from the near-future with small changes to the human body driving heart-felt debates on morality and policy, to hundreds of years from now when "human" bodies are markedly different from what they are now. Each story stands on its own, yet as a whole, they hold together to give the book a satisfying end.

Each story highlights one aspect of emerging technology: genetic manipulation, organ transplant, extreme modification of the human body. As a writer of science fiction, I found the possibilities fascinating. As a reader and mom, I found them terrifying. This is a great book to get teens thinking through their point of view on how we should use the technology currently being developed.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

At TheWingedPen.com we have dozens of reviews of middle-grade, young-adult and #ownvoice books. Check out our reviews at:
or just click on Book Recommendations on our home page where you can search by category!
1 review4 followers
July 8, 2018
I received and ARC from the publisher and found this to be a fascinating read. Arwen Dayton is an incredibly imaginative writer, and I found several of the stories take twists and turns that I hadn't expected. In some ways the subjects are grotesque and uncomfortable, but there is also a gritty realness to her writing which allows her characters to live and breath amongst us. Her understanding of human nature and why people act as they do is impressive. We see this manifested in each of her characters by the ways they interact with each other and by the decisions they make.

One of my favourite things about Dayton's writing is how approachable and fast-paced it is. Though each of the stories in this book could stand alone, there is a thread of commonality that has been woven between them which kept me rapidly reading to find out what came next!

In some ways this book is terrifying, but only in that it approaches the subject of medical ethics in a way that is actually very real and possible in the near future. I found it posed questions that we may all have to confront as technology continues to race ahead, and gets us to consider at what point do we allow technology to trump morality.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. I can't wait to see what Dayton comes out with next!
Profile Image for USOM.
2,325 reviews194 followers
November 28, 2018
(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

There are so many brilliant things to say about Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful. While this collection is six separate stories, they are interwoven throughout a common thread. We can appreciate the distance between the stories, as well as the similarities. It never felt disjointed, just like separate parts of this immense gorgeous robotic machine working in harmony. What I adored is how unique this book feels. Everything from the format to the ideas.

full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
Profile Image for Christy.
1,505 reviews258 followers
January 1, 2019
I finished this in a DAY and did not want to put it down. Told in an expanding universe where bioengineering continues to test the limits of humanism and humans inevitably act like humans, this story is so real and yet unlike anything else I've ever read. Don't sleep on this beauty!
Profile Image for Theresa.
7,487 reviews113 followers
August 9, 2018
Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful (Hardcover)
by Arwen Elys Dayton
This is a compilation of stories in the book, loosely tied to each other because of the idea and premise that human adaptation will change the world as we understand.
Part One
Matched Pair
A set of semi-identical twins are dying. They are losing a battle against their own bodies, but its opposing parts that are failing. So the doctors propose a solution, combine them to save one. But which would you save, which is more viable. The real question is how does a young child comprehend that his sibling needs to die so he could live. This is a great theoretical proportionate to the idea of medical intervention and our responsibility to life.

Part Two
St. Ludmilla
The idea that we can repair ourselves, change our appearance to the point of an entirely different race of man would come out of it. How much of this is humanity? how much are we creations of our own making? This shows how survival is not always the easiest part of living after a tragedy, its coming to grips with what you have faced and how you have faced it.

Part Three
The Reverend Mr. Tad and Tadd's love story
The corruption of belief, the rejection of new ideals makes some pretty heavy and enterprising installments of social changes. Reverend Tad has jumped on the bandwagon that those who have chosen to go beyond their normal life span, or genetic preponderance are evil. He has made a fortune spouting his soapbox beliefs. The problem is, he is a fraud. This story is a great look at human acceptance, and the ability of the public to accept and adapt to social changes caused by technology and advancement.

Part Four
Eight Waded
The idiomatic adaptation of the mind is brought to question. How do you accept physiological and psychological change in a drastic nature? How do you survive when life had brought to question all that matters?

Part Five
Power corrupts absolute power corrupts absolutely. The idea that humanity is lost because of political affiliation, or the psychological change of humanity. Russia has returned, it uses the technology at their disposal to change humanity. They take those deemed unfit for Russian society, those out side the law, or from another jurisdiction and transform them into the partial robotic slaves. Using them to forced labor, and subjection of social ridicule. The idea is what is humanity, and what is political power.

Part Six
There is a division in society, those they deem human and those that don't. Never allowing the inhuman to touch the human, caging them behind force fields, and social walls. Yet when crisis comes they are left with needing the help of those they deem unworthy. Showing the meaning of humanity and having compassion for others.
Profile Image for Blair.
1,741 reviews4,158 followers
April 5, 2019
A lightweight but skilful sci-fi novel-in-stories – I think it's meant to be YA, but there's definitely crossover appeal here. The starting point is 'Matched Pair': in a very near-future version of our world, the organs of teenage twins (both terminally ill) can be 'synthesised' so one of them will be able to live a long and healthy life. The book continues this theme through a series of interlinked tales that stretch into the far future. Body modification technology and gene editing become ever more advanced, to the point that they change the structure of global society; in the far version of the future seen in 'Curiosities', modified humans and primitive 'protos' exist separately.

By far my favourite story was 'California'. At around 16, Californian teenager Jake is diagnosed with incurable cancer; he enters an Eastern European cryogenics facility, where his body will be frozen until a cure is possible. Decades later, when the world has changed beyond recognition, he finds himself transformed into a part-robot slave, mining platinum on an asteroid. Though the premise sounds quite ridiculous written like that, this story actually has much better character development than any of the others. The flashbacks to Jake's past do a lot to flesh him out and give the outlandish plot a believable grounding. 'Eight Waded', the rather tragic story of a highly intelligent (modified) boy working with dolphins and manatees, is also one of the more intriguing segments.

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Profile Image for Charlie Anders.
Author 143 books3,670 followers
January 21, 2019
This book is unlike any YA novel, or for that matter any science fiction book, I've read lately. Dayton writes a series of self-contained stories about people whose minds and bodies have been enhanced with genetic engineering, transgenic alterations and cybernetics, and each story contains some of the wonder, and some of the horror, of "upgrading" your body. Read together, these six stories add up to a kind of future history of human augmentation, with each story going further into the future and tackling more thorny and potentially nightmarish scenarios. The story of Alexios, a hyperintelligent dolphin-human hybrid who lives among dolphins and manatees, is both lovely and chilling, and Dayton does a fantastic job of conjuring what it might be like to communicate with sea creatures and live in the ocean. There's also a story about slut-shaming and cyborg-bashing in high school that feels all too real. Jake, a cyborg who's enslaved and forced to mine platinum in the asteroid belt, is a super grounded and believable character, too. There are hints of dystopian YA in some of these stories, but they refuse to sit entirely inside the dystopian box. These stories are gorgeous and haunting, and there's a good reason this book is being hailed as great science fiction for all ages. Definitely worth checking out!
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