Fans of Arwen Elys Dayton’s Seeker series already know that she is not afraid to tackle difficult themes and topics while creating an engaging narrative. However, rather than returning to a book series Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful is a collection of interconnected short stories that examine various aspects of genetic manipulation and how scientific advances both hold the power to heal and harm. Starting in the near future and moving progressively beyond our realm of understanding and progress each tale shows how humanity might decide to handle genetic manipulation , and where it might lead us.
I take Faster, Stronger, and More Beautiful as a cautionary tale of how genetic manipulation can become a crutch that humanity might rely on so heavily they no longer can survive without it. The first story, a sobering tale of a teenage boy having his organs fused with his comatose twin sister’s to save his life, shows a reality most readers can find relatable. However, Dayton quickly jumps to situations beyond our current understanding of gene therapy such as a boy modified to physically be like a manatee and humans merged with machines to provide nearly immortal grunt work. I struggled to comprehend the plots and find meaning in the more futuristic settings, but I also wanted to learn how the various threads tied into each other and how they worked as a whole.
I have spent several months since finishing the book to digest the material and formulate my thoughts, but when I recently described it to a co-worker I realized the impact it left on me. Faster, Stronger, and More Beautiful is an extremely different type of work than the author’s Seeker series, but its power lies in how it makes readers analyze their feelings on a serious issue. It has stayed with me since I turned the last page, and I suspect I will be mulling over it for a long time.
4.5 Unexpected Consequences to Tweaking a Single Gene out of 5