Decelerate Blue by Adam Rapp (review)
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Reviewed by
Rapp, Adam Decelerate Blue; illus. by Mike Cavallaro. First Second, 2017 200p
ISBN 978-1-59643-109-6 $17.99 R Gr. 8-10

Edgy author Rapp pairs up with talented illustrator Mike Cavallaro in this beautiful and powerful graphic novel about a teen who chooses to say no. In this dystopic future world, efficiency is king: novels are shortened, beds are made upright, and if you can’t keep up, you are shuttled off to a reduction colony, which obviously can’t be good. Angela’s burnt out and resistant even before discovering a radical book that hints at other ways of being, and when she accidentally falls into an underground world where no one is in a rush, she decides almost instantly to stay, leaving behind her bereft parents. There she meets adults who help her adapt to the reduced air deep underground and finds a girl with whom she eventually falls in love. The two girls go from zero to naked with a quickness, but as it’s an emotionally charged situation and there’s a pretty clear instant electricity between them, it’s not terribly surprising. Given the efforts to destroy the resistance, it’s also no surprise that a true happy ending isn’t forthcoming, but the conclusion remains complex and poignant. Text and illustration strike an effective balance, with both progressing the story; the black and white illustrations bristle with sharp, jagged edges and lines that suit the harsh world, and free and loose paneling allows for some layout variety that effectively controls pacing. It’s a rare graphic novel that dives into romance and dystopia, so this will garner a wide readership.

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