Wednesday, July 12, 2017

DECELERATE BLUE by Adam Rapp & Mike Cavallaro

There's an old English Beat song that ends "faster faster faster faster STOP (I'm dead)". (The name of the song is "I Just Can't Stop It", from an album of the same name.) It turns out to be almost a summary of this amazing dystopian graphic novel, Decelerate Blue, which is set in a hyperkinetic future. In that future, everyone has a chip in their arm and is constantly monitored by "Guarantee", which appears to be an industrial state entity of some sort. Chips are scanned all the time.

SPEED is the goal. And possibly brevity. Things are described as "hyper" instead of super or great. Modifiers like adjectives and adverbs are avoided by most people. Contractions are mandatory whenever possible. People end spoken statements with the word "Go", which is rather like hitting "enter" on a text, but may also be a short form of "Go, Guarantee, Go", which is repeated all the time by characters to signify their allegiance to the idea of keeping their "guarantee" and trying to operate at the necessary speed to satisfy the requirements of the state.

Angela, the main character, is more of an "old school" girl who prefers things to be slower and have more meaning than is allowed in the "GO" world in which she lives. When she is slipped a copy of "Kick the Boot", a novel by Kent Van Gough, she learns that he predicted this hyper world and its machinations.

Angela leaves school (where she is studying Romeo and Juliet) and joins the Underground (which is literally located under ground), where she finds love with a girl named Gladys (who has had her chip removed). Angela bravely goes above ground to complete a mission and bring a package back to the Underground - pills that are called "Decelerate Blue", which are supposed to slow everyone's heartbeat down to make underground living more comfortable. Alas, Angela is spotted and things go seriously amiss, R+J-style, leaving Angela to make a bold choice at the end of the book ... which is suddenly rendered in magnificent color.

This book packs a gut punch of a warning about the danger of facile, speedy living.

You can also scan through several pages of this graphic novel at the Macmillan website.

Words to describe this book: Powerful. Tragic. Moving. READ IT.

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