Book Review: Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels

Upgrade Soul: Daniels, Ezra Claytan: 9781549302923: Books

Title: Upgrade Soul

Author: Ezra Claytan Daniels

Genre: Graphic Novel (Sci-fi/Horror)

Number of Pages: 272

Rating: A

Recommended?: Yes




Holy shit! This graphic novel is such a total mind-fuck in the best possible way. It takes material that could come off as ridiculous in the hands of another artists and uses it to tell a story that will disturb and haunt even more jaded readers. It gave me a slightly Black Mirror vibe, it was THAT good.


Hank and Molly are an elderly couple who are afraid of losing their faculties and the inevitability of their deaths. Since testing the potential of immortality on human subjects is always a good idea, the two geezers decide it’s an even better idea to offer themselves for an unstable scientist’s trial run.


They’re both highly intelligent people and feel like they have much more to offer if they were given the time, Molly has been part of the study focused on cellular regeneration and she trusts it enough to put it to the test. Shocker, the experiment goes wrong. Terribly wrong. In fact, I don’t think it could have possibly gone any worse. Molly and Hank’s physical forms are now in the throes of Alzheimer’s, but other versions of them now exist.


The other-Hank and other-Molly are horribly disfigured and resemble baked potatoes with vaguely humanoid features, but intellectually they are accelerating far beyond their original selves. Also their shambling human forms will suffer painful deaths if they are separated too far from their science experiment doubles. The ongoing fight concerning who deserves to live and who is expendable results in a twisted spiral of manipulation and violence. This story is horribly sad and the characters possess a borderline grotesque aesthetic quality from the very beginning.


Despite their uncanny valley appearances (not helped by the unnerving and sickly color scheme,) they also feel very believable and human despite a number of insane decisions. However, I found as they take increasingly desperate measures to continue existing there was a point where the ends didn’t justify the means, and I started wondering if they were really good people in the first place.


The direction this story takes is insane, which I mean in a complimentary sense because I found myself unable to put it down. There have been plenty of dystopian cautionary tales about the risks of immortality, but this book managed to offer something totally different while getting under readers’ skin at the same time.

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