Decelerate Blue brings the popular dystopian YA genre of a young rebel finding her people to comics. Adam Rapp writes and Mike Cavallaro draws the story of Angela, a fifteen-year-old living in a world that emphasizes speed and hyper-consumption.
All sentences end with the word “go”. Using too many adverbs will draw the wrong kind of attention. Everyone has a tracking chip implanted in their arm. Movies last under fifteen minutes.
But Angela has found a copy of the banned novel that suggests a different, slower way of life. She wants to live less rapidly, with more intention. Then she finds an underground (literally) resistance movement, where she falls in love.
The art is sparse and spiky, creating a sense of the tension Angela feels, but at times I wasn’t sure exactly what we supposed to be seeing, or the lack of background becomes distracting. Most of the book is black and white, but color is used sparingly to illustrate the most potent emotional moments.
I found the plot familiar, but that’s part of the appeal of a genre work, seeing the formula work itself out. My favorite parts were the small moments giving more insight into what day-to-day life is like, such as the one scene in Angela’s classroom. I wanted to know more about this world and how it came to be.
I suspect we’re supposed to identify with Angela, but there were times when I thought she seemed over-indulged. Teenage rebellion is natural, but that doesn’t make everything she dislikes bad. Except this is a rigged game, by the authors, so we’re supposed to think that going along is soul-crushing until you find the right group to fit in with.
Still, when a group talks about taking a life-changing drug in a joint ceremony, all at once, if you’re a certain age, that’s going to evoke Jonestown, which I don’t believe is intended. (Those who don’t remember history, as they say… and this work would have been stronger with more awareness of cultural context.) That reference made me feel as though I was too old for the book, since I knew more history than I was intended to.
It’s an appealing fantasy, that a group of drop-outs could build their own secret society, but it’s so unlikely as to not fit in well with the science fiction backing of the setting. I didn’t mind reading the first time through to find out what happened, but I don’t expect to read it again. Still, it’s an appealing message underneath, to slow down and appreciate art.
Decelerate Blue is due out February 14. It can be ordered from your local comic shop with Diamond code DEC16 1692. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)