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Upgrade soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels

Upgrade soul (edition 2018)

by Ezra Claytan Daniels

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335501,382 (4.11)7
Title:Upgrade soul
Authors:Ezra Claytan Daniels
Info:St. Louis, MO : Lion Forge Comics, 2018.
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:manga & GN

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Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels


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Showing 5 of 5
sitting easily in the space between graphic novel, sci-fi exploration, monster story, and the philosophy of identity (examining what it means to be a particular individual in a particular time as well as the broader what-does-it-mean-to-be-human question), this is one of the best books i've read in the last year, maybe the last five years. there are elements of mary shelley's frankenstein as well as the twilight zone episode "eye of the beholder", the classic dr jekyll & mr hyde motif, and implications of "flowers for algernon" -- but is also a love story at its heart, full of flawed and very human tragic characters. ultimately "upgrade soul" transcends categories and its own influences beautifully and powerfully. highly recommended. ( )
  Garth_H. | Jun 8, 2019 |
Note: I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

I've been trying to read more graphic novels/comics lately, because I know they contain some great stories. I just have a hard time focussing on both image and text and tend to forget the images after a while. But I keep trying, and some works make it really easy. *Upgrade Soul* by Ezra Clayton Daniels (story and art) is one of those works.

Hank and Molly Nonnar, a writer and a scientist support scientific research. When they are approached with the opportunity to back a project and to be test-subjects themselves, they are intrigued. The project promises rejuvenation with the added benefit of fixing all the defects life has thrown at them over time such as arthritis and diabetes. However, something goes wrong during the procedure, and they weren't told the whole story, which leaves them weak and old, with clones that are superior in every way except physical appearance. That leaves them and the scientists to figure out how to continue, who they are and what they want for the future.

I was initially drawn to this book because of the science fiction element in the story of a longevity experiment. But what grabbed me was the humanity, the emotional consequences of what has happened and the solutions for the future. I don't want to give anything away, but all I can say, read this. It is touching, it is great, it shows human character (both good and bad, but most importantly, real). Five out of five stars. ( )
  divinenanny | Dec 23, 2018 |
This was a very thought-provoking and disturbing book about mortality, vanity, society’s attitudes towards deformity and uncontrolled, ethics-free scientific progress. That’s a lot of really heavy issues to deal with in a graphic novel and inevitably it will make you feel uncomfortable at times. Sometimes it feels like an exploitive and tasteless horror but, although exaggerated, the core issues are ones that we have to think about now or in the near future.

The artwork is really well done. Every face and body is different and really detailed. The story keeps you entertained even though it’s pretty horrifying. I read it all in one go and then couldn’t stop thinking about for weeks, ( )
  EnidaV | Nov 21, 2018 |
To be honest, I'm not sure exactly how I feel about Ezra Claytan Daniels' Upgrade Soul; on the one hand it's a brilliant, challenging, and dark cautionary tale about the dangers of immorality in science, and on the other it's a slow and sometimes confusing study of individuality and what makes a person a person, the body, soul, or mind. I think some could categorize this as a science fiction story, while others could see it as horror; it does meet somewhere in the middle of these genres.

For their 45th anniversary, the Fred and Molly Nonnar decide to finance and undergo an experimental procedure that in theory will rejuvenate their cells and make them younger, stronger, smarter, and better in every way so that they can live an even longer and more fulfilled life than the one they have now. However, the scientists behind the procedure are not completely upfront about what the procedure will actually do, and instead of rejuvenating their own bodies, the Nonnars discover that they were to be cloned into a new body, with their memories and life experiences uploaded into these new bodies. However, something goes horribly wrong, and the clones come out of the procedure wildly disfigured, but better than their original bodies in every other way, while the Nonnars are left weaker and more feeble than before. What comes of this is back and forth tension about which pair is more "qualified" to live, the originals who are left lesser than they were before, or the clones, who are now superior, but ultimately incapable of living a "normal" life due to their disfigurations. There are several side plots concerning the actually motivation of the scientist heading up the program, a love story or two, and the families thoughts on what has happened to the Nonnars, but at the end of the day, this book is ultimately their story. I think it is a challenging book and pushes you to think about what makes you an individual, but it just didn't resonate with me as much as I would have liked. The story was sometimes too slow, the art sometimes too sparse, the timeline sometimes too confusing. Still, I'm glad that I read it. This book will have its audience and I think that it's going to start conversations about what it implies.

I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review. ( )
  tapestry100 | Sep 5, 2018 |
Welcome to the anti-Clone Club.

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley.)

Despite being an interracial couple who married in the '70s, Molly and Hank Nonnar have built a pretty charmed life together. Dr. Manuela Nonnar is a scientist (geneticist?) at the top of her field, while Hank continues the legacy left him by his father, a franchise based on a popular black superhero named Slane. Though they have no children of their own, the couple acts as surrogate parents to their niece Del, who likes play researcher in Molly's backyard. (Yay girls in STEM!) Then a fateful meeting between Hank and Dr. Victoria Teel upends their world and calls everything they thought they knew into question.

For their 40th anniversary,* the couple decides to make a substantial investment in a company called Via; in exchange, they'll be the first to undergo Via's experimental "genetic purification" procedure. It promises to make them stronger, smarter, faster, healthier, and more long-lived than any human before them. And it does, in a way.

Molly and Hank wake up seven months later in bodies that have seemingly aged ten years. Instead of being changed, they have been cloned. And their clones are half-formed "monsters": aborted (er, "canceled") during the 10th week of development, Manuela and Henry (as their counterparts are christened) resemble baked potatoes with cured ham for limbs (in technical terms). But they are "better" than the source material in every other way, blessed with superhuman strength and intellectual prowess that surpasses that of their creators.

Yet there's only room in the world for one Molly and Hank. Will it be the "source material" that Dr. Kallose intended to destroy upon the successful completion of the project, or the "monsters" that are a sentient success, yet are too aesthetically displeasing to ever present in public?


Upgrade Soul might just be one of the most bizarre, horrifying, and thought-provoking books I've ever read, graphic novel or otherwise. It raises a myriad of deliciously thorny questions: What makes you you? Is a person more than the sum of their parts? How much are we shaped by our environments? Our bodies? What is normality, and who gets to define it?

Plus it delights in a wicked sense of humor while doing so, particularly in the forms of Molly and Hank 2.0.



The plot's pretty compelling, and the artwork, appropriately crude and weird - but in an oddly moving way. There were a few holes, though; for example, it was never entirely clear to me what Molly and Hank expected of the procedure (e.g., did they know that their "original" bodies were destined for the incinerator?). Also: an already creepy story gets even freakier with the additional of an incest subplot, which is kind of left dangling, much to this reader's dismay. (You can't just drop a bomb like that and walk away, mkay.) And just why did Manuela do what she did?

Still, Upgrade Soul is one of the better graphic novels I've read in recent memory: a legit page-turner that both entertains and challenges. If you dig sci-fi, you owe to yourself to add it to your TBR list.

* It's right there on page 47 of my ARC, no matter what the synopsis says.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2018/10/08/upgrade-soul-by-ezra-claytan-daniels/ ( )
1 vote smiteme | Aug 26, 2018 |
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