/ Cory Doctorow / 3 am Tue, Feb 14 2017
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  • Decelerate Blue: YA graphic novel about the kids who refuse to keep pace with totalitarian, high-speed consumerism

    Decelerate Blue: YA graphic novel about the kids who refuse to keep pace with totalitarian, high-speed consumerism

    Decelerate Blue is a new dystopian science fiction YA graphic novel from Adam Rapp and Mike Cavallaro that tells the story of Angela Swiff, a teen who refuses to go along with the "Guarantee," a totalitarian philosophy that demands that everyone work, play and (especially) shop as quickly as is humanly possible.

    In the world of the Guarantee, even adjectives are banned, as are compound sentences, because both are too time-consuming. Every speaker ends their dialog with "go" -- like radio operators saying "over" -- so that the other person can start speaking as quickly as possible. Books are banned, as are full-length movies -- they're both replaced by super-abridged Vine-ish versions that are designed to be consumed at the highest possible speed.

    Angela knows there's something wrong with all this, but her parents are convinced that it's just adolescent intransigence -- even as they prepare to send Angela's beloved grandfather to a scary-sounding "reduction colony" because his heart rate has fallen below the state-mandated minimum BPM.

    But someone has slipped Angela a resistance manual: a prescient novel called "Kick the Boot" that predicted this nightmarish world, whose author is presumed to have been kidnapped to a distant gulag. Angela's experiences with Kick the Boot and her grandfather's parting words lead her to the slow underground, a colony of refuseniks living in catacombs beneath the titanic malls of the Guarantee society, playing slow music, learning to mediate, and staring calmly into the deep chocolate gaze of a peaceful cow.

    Angela's subsequent journey into the guerrilla warfare, first love, and philosophy is a satisfying and energizing crie de couer for anyone who's ever confronted the pace of life and their own desire for a moment's respite from it all. It distills, in YA comics form, some of the most important lessons from Faster, an undeservedly obscure book from master science writer James Gleick, detailing his own heartbreaking return to society after years of rehabilitation following a private plane crash that killed his son -- a re-entry complicated by the incredible changes in the pace of life during those early internet years.

    Rapp and Cavallaro take the thoughtful insights from Faster and combine them with a consumerism-dystopia reminiscent of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and emerge with a tale of rebellion and humanism that kids and adults will both love -- and be inspired by.

    Decelerate Blue [Adam Rapp and Mike Cavallaro/First Second]

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