Decelerate Blue: A Dystopian Tale About the Power of Slowing Down


Cover detail from Decelerate Blue by Adam Rapp and Mike Cavallaro/First Second ©

Feeling overwhelmed by the news? Exhausted by social media? I’d like to prescribe Decelerate Blue, a dystopian science-fiction graphic novel written by Adam Rapp and artist Mike Cavallaro. I finished it in one sitting, like a starving man devouring a sumptuous meal. I needed it. I bet you do, too.

Life in the New World is fast, and getting faster every day. You’re expected to sleep standing up, shop as much and as fast as you can, and end your sentences with the word “go”. That’s progress, and it’s all very hyper—which is to say good. Don’t like it? The Guarantee Committee knows where to find you. That’s what the chip in your arm is for.

Angela suspects there’s something very wrong. Her parents and teachers think it’s her. She thinks otherwise. So does the person who left a copy of Kick the Boot—a forbidden Old World novel—under her desk. The author predicted a world full of all-seeing cameras and brutal oppression hidden beneath a shiny facade of giant shopping malls and smiling faces. Angela’s world, in other words.

People like Angela’s grandfather remember the time before the Great Acceleration, when people really listened to each other, and weren’t in such a hurry all the time. The Guarantee Committee doesn’t like that at all. That’s why they’re shipping the old folks—the slow folks—off to Reduction Colonies. Nobody knows what happens there except for the Guarantee Committee. It’s best not to waste time asking silly questions.

The day before Angela’s grandfather is to be sent away, he tells her a secret: There’s something for her buried beneath a tree. All she has to do is dig it up.

Angela doesn’t find her grandfather’s gift. Instead, she discovers a passage to a dreamy subterranean world where a community of dissenters wage a war against acceleration. Food is prepared slowly, and with care. Musicians make music that you can feel. Adjectives and adverbs are celebrated, polysyllabic words are flaunted, and books—the Old World kind, unexpurgated—are cherished.

Angela finds her place amid this candlelit labyrinth of womb-like caves, and more importantly, finds love: Gladys, another young refugee from the accelerated world above. Unfortunately, the agents of the Guarantee Committee are hot on Angela’s trail. Has she discovered a new home only to see it fall apart?

Reminiscent of the works of Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, and George Orwell, Decelerate Blue is destined to become a classic: a timely read for people who really should make time to read.