Strong, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton
Delacorte Press / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: December 14, 2018
Six short stories are connected by a world where the possibilities of body and genetic modification become more advanced and dark with each story. From a twin about to take part of his sister’s organs in order to live, to a religious zealot fighting against the advancements science has made against God’s creations until he needs them himself, each story shows us how far society will go to become perfect.
Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful is a science fiction read with some hardcore sci-fi elements to attract readers looking for those types of stories, but yet still has a YA feel. The overall theme of what exactly makes us human is fascinating and readers will be horrified, yet curious as each story gets more imaginative and disturbing. This not-so-distant future is described so vividly and with such detailed precision as to how these medical and technological advancements work, that though it is fiction, it all seems believable. Themes of how far humanity is willing to go to become indestructible and how perfection does not equal a happy and healthy society make for a thought-provoking and power set of stories.
Fans of shows like Black Mirror or Ghost in a Shell, movies like Ex Machina, or science fiction featuring futuristic technology and genetic and body modification will enjoy this book.
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
Wednesday Books / Macmillan
Publication Date: Jan. 15, 2019
1889. Paris. Just a few weeks before the Exposition Universelle. In a world where Babel Fragments allow those with the affinity and the knowledge to create wonders, Séverin Montagnier-Alarie seeks to regain his birthright. Séverin, who is half French and half Algerie and the discredited heir to dead House Vanth, puts together a team to pull off an impossible heist. It ends up being bigger than he expected when Hypnos, the queer half Haitian and half French patriarch of House Nyx, drags them into a conspiracy that could change everything—not just for Séverin and his friends but for the whole world.
Roshani Chokshi has created a diverse cast of characters for this opulent heist novel: Laila, an Indian baker and performer with a tragic secret; Enrique, a bisexual half Filipino and half Spanish historian who is always ready with a quip; Tristan, Séverin’s younger brother whose plant Forging abilities keep him in demand; and Zofia, an autistic Polish Jew who wants to build a better life for her sister. Chokshi explores the effects of colonialism on a similar world to our own through the lens of the marginalized.
Fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology, Patrick Weekes’ Rogues of the Republic trilogy, “Ocean’s 8,” and “Moulin Rouge,” as well as those who love videogames with plot and puzzles—such as the “Dragon Age” or “Mass Effect” games—will find plenty to love in Chokshi’s latest work.
— Ness Shortley