Upgrade Soul

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

This one started out interesting, but then it just got to be too much for me.  I didn't care for the characters' look, and it sorta turned me off reading it.  I stopped for a bit.  When I went back to finish it, the eBook had disappeared (expired on NetGalley).  I did check it out from the library to finish it, but wasn't happy about the whole experience.
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An interesting concept and execution with a few more unanswered questions than answered ones at the end.
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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.
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An older couple volunteers for an experimental procedure, one that is promised to genetically purify the body’s contaminants to produce an upgraded self, one with higher potential. This procedure isn't all it seemed to be, and unfortunately goes wrong. 

My mind is simply blown. This comic is what science fiction is all about. It surprised me, made me question things, and provoked all types of emotions. This story sucked me in and had me captivated the entire time. If you like sci-fi, this is a must read.
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I received an ARC of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This was a strange but interesting concept for a graphic novel. This was a dark take on what could go wrong when you offer yourself as a guinea pig for a brand new experiment to reverse the aging process without knowing all of the information. I was intrigued to see how it would turn out but at the same time, in the back of mind realizing that this could not possibly turn out well. It becomes a struggle between clones, people, science, friendship, and love. In the end, it's all fair game.

This was an ok read for me. It jumped timelines a bit too much for me which was confusing at first. It left me wanting and expecting more although I think I get the underlying message since it is a bit of a cautionary tale. The artwork was also just ok for me, nothing spectacular. 

It was ok, it was short, give it a try if you're into this stuff.
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Honestly, I'm not sure I liked this one or not. The book as a whole is okay. The animation is decent and colorful. The characters are distinct enough that I didn't feel confused as to who was who.
What has me torn is the theme of this story. It's not bad, I should clarify. It's hard to like something with such a powerful message when the truth is painful. 
Upgrade Soul explores our use of science to change our existence. We want to live longer, be healthier, be stronger, smarter, etc without really doing the things we know are good for us. This is all about gaining something without working for it - using science as a shortcut. We all know what happens when we take the shortcut - we are eaten by wolves. What happens when we are the wolves or our companions are the wolves? 
There is not much I feel I can say without giving the story away. I'll be ruminating on this for some time which I think is the sign of a really good story.
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It was good.   I enjoyed the story.  It had good characters.  Looking forward to others  by this author.
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I downloaded the file, but when I tried to read the book all the pictures were static. I think this is a file error, but either way I was excited to read it, and couldn't. So I can't review it.
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'Upgrade Soul' is about all the fears and doubts and hopes that make us human. And the crazy things we might agree to in order to hold onto this precious thing we call life.

* Looks at thoughtful, philosophical conundrums through the lens of deeply human characters
* Cool, realistic, engaging characters that invite oceans of empathy
* Intriguing, interesting art.

* Not sure I loved how everything was wrapped up at the end, but that's about it.
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*Got this book from NetGalley*
This graphic novel took me a bit longer to finish than expected. There were times when I've struggled to go on. It's a rather disturbing story, which proves that you can't always get what you want easily. Well, the truth is you shouldn't even want to get more, get an upgrade, as it might not turn out as you hoped.
Drawings in the book are odd, too. They are a bit creepy; especially the faces are unsettling. 
Overall it wasn't entirely what I hoped for...
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Thank you to NetGalley for a Kindle ARC of Upgrade Soul. 

I was excited to receive an early copy because the premise was so fascinating, a timely topic with a creepy twist in our vanity obsessed society.

** Minor spoilers ahead ** 

Hank and Molly Nonnar have been happily married for 45 years. As an anniversary present, they decide to undergo an experimental rejuvenation procedure that will enhance their longevity, intelligence, and endurance.

Except, something goes wrong. Twilight Zone wrong.

Hank and Molly are still old and decrepit, trapped in their aging bodies. Their new selves are clones, not exact clones, because the procedure was interrupted early in the process.

They are appalled, traumatized and strangely mesmerized by these clones, who are surpassing all expectations in terms of intelligence, dexterity and physical abilities.

What a shock that the doctors did not disclose this teeny tiny detail. I'm sure it wasn't also in the fine print of the contract the couple signed. This was a nice jab at the medical establishment by the author. 

As the Nonnars adjust to interacting with their clones and dealing with unforeseen side effects, we get frequent flashbacks into how the Nonnars were introduced to this procedure, their initial misgivings and their eagerness to take a chance at such an experimental scientific procedure.

I had certain expectations of Upgrade Soul, thinking it was going to be dark and tragic, bloody and traumatic but it turned out to be deeply sad, depressing, as we are introduced to the doctor's original reason for developing such a controversial procedure, his deformed sister, Lina.

The author's drawing style is dramatic and effective; the many lines and wrinkles on the Nonnars' faces, the clean lines of the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, and the clean lines of Lina's own face, startling beautiful because it is not what anyone expects.

I don't think its a coincidence that the author draws the doctor in a way that evokes untrustworthiness and shifty behavior; bulging eyes, long, craggy face, slumped shoulders. Or maybe that's just me transferring my own feelings about doctors onto drawings.

There are a few plot holes that left me wondering:

The doctor's own staff eventually begin to question the morality and ethics of the procedure and dissension splits them apart. The dissent seems to happen abruptly, when a slower transition would have been more powerful. 

Was it because the clones were scary? Or because the doctor was so consumed that the procedure would work, he says to benefit his sister, but was it really just an ego trip?

Or was it because Lina and one clone began to lose their grip on reality? Why?

Also, I was confused as to why the Nonnars would agree to undergo a procedure when human trials had not yet been done. Why volunteer themselves as guinea pigs wholeheartedly? 

There was no explanation or justification as to why they would volunteer their bodies, still hale and hearty despite their age. They could have ended up as two heads on one body. Why were they so convinced the procedure would work when it has never been attempted on human subjects before?

There is a incestuous twist that is briefly mentioned, perhaps to explain why certain people are attracted to one another, which I've read is a real thing.

The ending is decent, as the status quo reasserts itself but its not without hope, though wrought with psychological pain and the devastating consequences we all must deal with in the aftermath of the choices we have made.

The Nonnars learn a bitter truth that is one of my favorite mantras in life: 

It could always be worse.
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This book was a definitive ride from start to end. A deceptively straightforward procedure leads to unexpected results and long lasting effects. Intriguing and compelling, I was constantly trying to figure out what would happen next, only to be completely shocked at the actual events.
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Bizarre in an existential crisis sort of way. I love the concept, the main characters (Both Hank and Molly and Henry and Manuela) are incredibly complex and well developed, as it were. The only drawback was the nonlinear timeline-- the frequent flashbacks to different points in time were a bit confusing, and sometimes jarring. I think I would have been completely lost if I had read this across more than two sittings. The art is excellent, and fits the mood and narrative very well. It's all incredibly heavy, though, as much good sci fi is.
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I was attracted to this story because it sounded like a great character piece for potential film adaptation (the industry I work in). I was pleasantly surprised that beyond the leads Hank and Molly, there are some great characters who are fleshed out individuals with struggles of their own. 

After Hank and Molly decided to undergo an experimental procedure that could potentially increase their life expectancy and make them smarter, faster and stronger than before they spend the rest of time in a rehabilitation facility. Unfortunately for them the procedure actually created disfigured, highly intelligent clones of themselves. 

These clones, along with the doctors at the facility and the secret patient kept there interact in real ways with real thoughts and struggles. They seek individuality and connection, love and intimacy. 

The underlining issue of beauty being the only way to be accepted into society is a prejudice exhibited in every character in the story. It becomes a great critique of society's looks obsession and how that too can impede on scientific advancement.
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“Upgrade Soul” is a thought-provoking take on risky ‘medical’ experimenting, on being your ‘best,’ strongest self, and the search for eternal youth via key ethical issues in a way that I haven’t seen done before. For someone who studies identity, selfhood, and the comics medium, this graphic novel was nothing short of impressive. 
Molly and Hank. Manuela and Henry. Originals and clones, more different than they are alike. Their story is told in flashbacks which makes it easier for the reader to digest the very heavy subject matter. As one of the characters says at some point, “there’s some seriously screwed up stuff going on here.” More than the overall screwed-up-ness, there are some shocking turns the story takes. 
The art style with the brightly washed panels reminded me of the 80s horror/sci-fi comics and the overall atmosphere and pacing resemble that of a psychological thriller. The lettering, however, made it difficult for me to read, even on a big screen. 

Thanks to NetGalley, Diamond Book Distributors, Lion Forge & the author for the opportunity to read a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Poised somewhere between science fiction and horror, this is a terrific graphic novel about an interracial elderly couple – Molly, a research scientist, and Hank, who longs to revive his father’s comic book series featuring a black hero, Slane – who offer themselves up as benefactors and guinea pigs for an experimental procedure to upload their memories to physically improved clones. Things go awry, of course, forcing everyone involved to rethink the nature of memory and loss and consider what importance appearance versus disfigurement has. The book is long enough to have the strong story line and characters that would appeal to a fiction reader who’s new to graphic novels.
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Emotionally wrecking, masterful in its direction and beautiful art. This book should be on a lot of best of lists come years end.
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'Upgrade Soul' by Ezra Claytan Daniels is a wild ride of a graphic novel.  It also manages to address some interesting issues along the way like identity, aging, and what makes us human.

Hank and Molly Nonnar are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary.  Hank buys them an unusual present.  A chance to be on the ground floor for a medical procedure that could rejuvenate them and extend their lives.   What happens instead is that they wake up in hideous parodies of human bodies.  Then they find out there is more.   They've been cloned, but the original Hank and Molly need to stay close.  As the days go by, the clones get stronger and smarter and Hank and Molly grow more feeble.  There are other surprises along the way, but I dare not spoil them.

What a weird read.  When it was over, I couldn't stop thinking about it.  The art is unusual, but fits the story very well.  The story and the topics bring up are interesting for a graphic novel.  At the heart is a story of technology and pride, but also this aging couple who just want to live a little longer.

I received a review copy of this graphic novel from Lion Forge, Diamond Book Distributors, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you for allowing me to review this unusual graphic novel.
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This was a gripping, emotional, and highly suspenseful piece about the nature of identity, ethics, and the soul.  What is it exactly that makes a person a person?  Is it the mind?  The body?  Our memories?  Or something else entirely?

Readers who are interested in themes of ethics, scientific progress, and "things man was not meant to tamper with" will find a lot to enjoy about this book.  However, with the uncomfortable topic and sometimes intense moments, this is certainly a book that will not be for everyone.  Still, in the hands of the right reader, it will be a fascinating, "can't put it down" read.
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This is a quick, yet important read.  It follows the decision between an aging couple to clone themselves into their younger counterparts.  The problem is that the cloning goes wrong. The clones do not get to the age that the couple wanted.  Instead, they end up horrifically disfigured, but still with the majority of the memories of the original couple.  The two sets of couples find each other and begin to interact, against the advice of the doctor.  That is where this experiment takes a tragic moralistic turn.

This graphic novel explores the story of not only the original couple but of the clones as well.  What are the moral and ethical implications of doing such an experiment?  What does it mean to continue living your life aging while another part of you tries to begin life in the middle of it?  Does it even matter to your aging self if you know that you are still dying and only your memories will survive in another being, rather than your consciousness? What happens when the clone develops ideas and a mind of its own?  Who does this harm: the original couple, the clones, the medical staff, family members, friends, etc.?  

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me an advanced copy to read.  All opinions are my own.
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