This is a spoiler-free review and all opinions are my own.
Title: Stronger, Faster and More Beautiful
Author: Arwen Elys Dayton
Publisher: Harper Collins / Harper Voyager
Publication Date: 7 February 2019
Length: 384 pages
From organ donation to plastic surgery to full bodily reconstruction, these stories take you by your (for now, organic) hand and lead you into a future where the line between person and machine becomes increasingly blurred.
This is a standalone novel.
This book is really clever. You can tell the author did a lot of research and went over a lot of scientific papers just to be able to write this.
Though she uses quite a bit of jargon here and there, everything is usually explained straight away so that all readers, and especially those with no medical expertise, can understand perfectly well what’s going. This is done in a very organic way and there’s no info dump.
The world-building was brilliant – well-structured, complex yet not overwhelming. There were no weird-sounding concepts or hard to grasp notions. Most of the things mentioned are actually already in motion as we speak, and those that aren’t will be in the not so distant future. This made every scene incredibly plausible and realistic, and oftentimes simply terrifying.
The book is divided into several stories, each one headed by a different set of characters, and I really enjoyed learning about them and their lives. Even if I kept jumping from one to the other, I felt connected to them in a very inexplicable way from the very beginning.
I think it’s because they were all so human, so flawed. There were some that I liked more than others, of course, but each felt unique and at the same time familiar enough for me to care.
I also liked how each story took place in the same exact universe, with a few years in between, and connected so seamlessly to one another. One would expect them to feel a bit too repetitive but the author managed to create a completely new plot and atmosphere each time.
We got to see or hear about characters that had been mentioned before and especially those who played significant roles in the story, and each one of them contributed in different ways to bring the narrative to a logical and satisfactory ending (in my opinion).
I don’t usually pick up sci-fi books but I found myself really immersed in this one from the first couple of pages. I don’t know if it was because the subject matter was so shocking and controversial, or because the characters were so unapologetically wicked; either way, it made me curious enough to keep on reading.
It was brutal, upsetting, moving, gentle, funny and witty in all the right places.
While I undoubtedly enjoyed this book, I didn’t feel particularly tempted to reach for it. A weird thing to say after so much praise, I know, but let me elaborate:
When I did pick it up, I usually had no trouble diving into it wholeheartedly and have a good time – and that is a remarkable feat, let me tell you. But after setting it down again, I just felt like the stories and characters didn’t stick with me long enough to make me crave for it afterwards. I was invested in them only for the duration of my reading.
However, I think this had more to do with my mood and the fact that I was facing a reading slump for a while now, and less to do with the book itself. Because just after a few days of finishing it, I did find myself thinking back to the subject matter and feeling a tad unnerved again.
It does make you ponder the scientific advancements and how Humanity is probably doomed to perish from its insatiable greed (lighthearted, I know). But most of all, it makes you desperate to try and change that gloomy future.
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.
Bottom line: yes, I do recommend you give this book a go!
📖 Do you often struggle with reading slumps?
📖 How big a part do your emotions play in your final ratings?
Let me know in the comments below! 🙂