Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful, Arwen Elys Dayton (Delacorte 978-0-525-58095-9, $18.99, 384pp, hc) December 2018. Cover by Ray Shappell.
If you have a younger teen that you are trying to lure into the SF/F genre, Arwen Elys Dayton’s Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful might be a great gateway read. Dayton’s story extrapolates the technology of human genetic modification from the possible-in-the-near-future to the interesting-but-unlikely-dozens-of-years-from-now. The book is comprised of six short stories that each feature a different teen protagonist and the Reverend Mr. Tad Tadd, who preaches genetic purity but has a change of heart.
Dayton’s six protagonists range from a Catholic school girl who is ostracized for her life-saving enhancements, to a boy genius who is part aquatic mammal, to an escaped asteroid miner who is mostly metal. No matter the slice of the future we’re in, Dayton keeps the underlying theme of each story about how rough it is to be a teenager who is still working out who they are and how they fit (or don’t) the larger world.
For established genre readers, no matter their age, who are used to stories that play with what the future could look like, Dayton’s exploration of the intersection between what we can do and what we should do when it comes to technology will keep your socks firmly on – but that may be different for the non-genre early teenaged audience at which it is aimed, who might find these ideas new enough to be intriguing or the characters interesting enough to be compelling.
Adrienne Martini has been reading or writing about science fiction for decades and has had two non-fiction, non-genre books published by Simon and Schuster. She lives in Upstate New York with one husband, two kids, and one corgi. She also runs a lot.
This review and more like it in the April 2019 issue of Locus.
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