Review: Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dalton
Published by Delacorte Press on December 4, 2018
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.
Stronger, Faster and More Beautiful is a book that explores the many sides of how science can impact our lives and our bodies. My review for this might be a bit different than my typical reviews just because I am not going to focus on characters at all. The entire point of this book is the questions it raises and the topics it makes you think about. It’s this aspect of the book that I found stuck with me the most, and so that is what I am going to try to relay in my review.
Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful is an interesting reflection that can make you wonder how far is to far? How much should humans modify our bodies? Just because we can do something, should we? And should some reasons be more acceptable than others, should vanity or performance modifications be less justifiable than life saving procedures? This book really left me with a series of questions to think about. My opinion on any of this is not the point, the point is that the reader is presented with scenarios that highlight areas and situations to consider.
My intro sounds like it could apply to today’s world, but this book is made of a variety of stories or well told stories, all set in future where technology has taken everything to new levels, and part of the process of striving for “perfection” means not everything always goes as planned. Each story highlights a side of the story, a situation personalized through the characters and their situations, making everything relatable. One of the perspectives is a child whose parents wanted a child with superior intelligence. The boy has to live with the side effects of what was essentially an experimentation with his life. Was it worth it? Should they have tried this? Who has the right to make that decision
There are newer, more extreme life saving procedures, ones where new parts and organs can be custom grown to make a person “whole” again. I find it hard to argue against any life saving measures, but what about life extension? What are the moral implications of being able to renew your body?
Then there is the whole religious contingent, where religion can pit itself against these advancements, judging others, even if it meant loss of life if not for the use of the new technology.
I do love books that can make me think, that can take a current day scenario and draw out a picture, tell a story, of where things can lead, and really make you wonder about what makes sense, who should decide what is moral/reasonable, and when a line should be drawn for taking things too far. If any of that sounds interesting to you, then I do encourage you to give reading this a try.