Cover of Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful, featuring a pretty woman's face being held by robotic hands

About the Book

Title: Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful
Published: 2018

Cover Story: Ex Machina
BFF Charm: Mixed Bag
Talky Talk: Warning
Bonus Factor: Modifications
Anti-Bonus Factors: Awful Parents, Discrimination/Slavery
Relationship Status: Can’t Stop Thinking About You

Cover Story: Ex Machina

The woman on the cover isn’t Alicia Vikander, but the fact that she’s similar enough looking combined with the robotic hands and the “glitches” remind me a great deal of the 2014 movie. (Side note: The hardcover is printed on pearlescent paper, which is not only super pretty but also adds to the “not quite real” feel.)

The Deal:

Humanity is obsessed with finding ways to beat the bad parts of being human: disease, aging, debilitating accidents, etc. Told over the course of six semi-connected stories that reach far into our future, Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful examines both the positives and negatives of the eventuality of science and science fiction becoming one and the same.

BFF Charm: Mixed Bag

Brown paper bag filled with various BFF charms

The main characters of each of the six stories were all quite different, with qualities both good and bad. The ones I liked most all shared similar qualities, however; they were intelligent and questioning and concerned with more than just themselves.

Swoonworthy Scale: 0? -1? 4?

It’s hard to decide on a rating for this, as a few of the six stories featured some sort of romantic themes, but others none at all. There’s not a lot of swoon in this book, and when there is something of the sort, it’s more about finding comfort in someone else’s arms than sexytimes.

Talky Talk: Warning

Not short stories, but not a cohesive whole, Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful is a strange, eerie novel that starts out (mostly) praising the idea of scientific advancements that help people be, well, stronger, faster, and more beautiful, but quickly veers into uncanny territory and discussion of what could go wrong were humans to figure out how to alter normal evolution and modify genetics past the point of recognition. And even while being a scary look into a very possible future, the book ends on a hopeful note. Dayton has skillfully bridged the gap between super cool ideas and “oh, god, please no,” but doesn’t abandon humanity entirely as a lost cause. It’s a fascinating book that bucks convention and is equal parts terrifying and hopeful. (And terribly hard to review, as you might have guessed with my many vague statements so far.)

Bonus Factor: Body Modifications

I totally understand the dangers of going too far with altering the way your body looks and performs, but I’d totally want hair that could change color or length at my whim and tattoos that moved on their own. And actual wings would be pretty dang badass.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Awful Parents

Boxtrolls characters

Even in the far future, one thing will remain true: YA characters will have awful parents. In Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful, they run the gamut from well-meaning, but self-centered, to downright horrible.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Discrimination/Slavery

Artistic rendering of slaves cutting sugarcane

In one of the more futuristic stories, two young men find themselves on the run after being enslaved. They became slaves because of very different circumstances: One of them was collateral damage, and the other was a Russian persecuted for being “unnatural.” It’s disheartening to think that such antiquated and harmful notions might persist (and get worse).

Relationship Status: Can’t Stop Thinking About You

You are NOT what I expected, Book, and I’m not sure if our time together left me enraptured or unsettled—or both. I appreciate your message, and although you might have been a bit heavy-handed in the telling on occasion, I appreciate that we had the time together that we did. And I’m going to be thinking about it for a long while to come.

Literary Matchmaking

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman’s Illuminae Files feature a different side of the dangers of humanity mucking about with technology.

Red Rising (Red Rising Saga #1)

Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga features similar tales of genetic modifications, but also a whole lot more violence and political machinations.

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1)

Claudia Gray’s Firebird series takes things in a whole other direction of science fiction: cross-dimensional travel and alternate universes.


FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Delacorte Press, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.