Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Decelerate Blue

The mark of a great book may be just how long it sits with you after you have finished reading it. I read this book and was pretty dissatisfied with the ending, but it keeps cropping up in my thoughts. Decelerate Blue is a science fiction tale set in a not-too-distant future where speeding up to keep up with societal and technological change is not just necessary, it's the law. Angela, a teenage girl, does not quite fit in here, and she resists many of the required "hyper" requirements, such as reading special novels, watching special movies, and going to a special mall. People even speak in rapid style, ending each speaking turn with a marker "Go." (This last feature was pretty maddening for me to read at the start of this book, but I eventually got used to it.) In this future, trying to slow life down is an act of resistance.
Angela's actions lead to some attention, unwelcome from some (like her parents) and welcome from others (like the mysterious person who drops her a copy of Kick the Boot, a novel that becomes the manifesto for an underground movement). Soon, she literally drops out of society, joins the resistance, and finds a potential romance in an unlikely place. Still, the establishment is very well organized and relentless, and things do not go well for the resistors in the end. I am not going to spoil it, but the ending was pretty bleak and left me with small feelings of hope and large feelings of despair. Still, it is a very affecting book, and that it stirred such emotions up in me is the hallmark of something done right. I have to say that the combination of artwork and narrative is pitch perfect for this sort of tale, though I was largely dissatisfied with some of the character work.

This book is a collaboration between writer Adam Rapp and artist Mike Cavallaro. Rapp is a Renaissance man who has worked on movies, music, novels, and play writing, and he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2006. Cavallaro has worked in comics for a couple of decades now, with a number of graphic novels to his credit, including Foiled, Curses! Foiled Again, The Life and Times of Savior 28, and Parade (with fireworks).

All of the reviews I have read for this book have been glowing. Kirkus Reviews summed up, "This is a strikingly illustrated book set in a potentially massive world, and readers will hope this isn't the only story to come from it." In a starred review from the School Library Journal Jordeana Kruse gave this verdict, "Fans of George Orwell’s 1984 and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 will find much to ponder in this notable graphic novel." April Spisak wrote that even though it is not happy "the conclusion remains complex and poignant."

Decelerate Blue was published by First Second, and they have a preview and much more available here. There are some language and sexual situations that might not play well with younger readers, but I think that this book would be appropriate for older adolescents.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

1 comment:

  1. My colleague Laura Jimenez recently reviewed this book and had a much different take than I did. I think she raises many pertinent points that did not occur to me and made me think a lot differently about it. So check out her review here: