Size Doesn’t Matter (161): Decelerate Blue; That Thing We Call a Heart

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (161): Decelerate Blue; That Thing We Call a HeartDecelerate Blue by Adam Rapp
Published by First Second on February 14, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Pages: 199
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
one-half-stars

The future waits for no one.

In this new world, speed and efficiency are everything, and the populace zooms along in a perpetually stimulated haze. Angela thinks she's the only person in her family—maybe the only person on the planet—who sees anything wrong with this picture. But the truth is she's not alone.

Angela finds herself recruited into a resistance movement where the key to rebellion is taking things slow. In their secret underground hideout, they create a life unplugged from the rapid-fire culture outside. Can they free the rest of the world before the powers that be shut down their utopian experiment?

From revolutionary and award-winning playwright Adam Rapp and veteran cartoonist and animator Mike Cavallaro comes a dark, breath-taking new vision of an all-too-plausible future for America.

Back in the day, I totally burned myself out on dystopian fiction. A handful continue to trickle out to my mystification. Occasionally I try one, because surely, since people are burned out, only great ones will be coming out. Or not. Decelerate Blue, which lured me in with that gorgeous f/f cover, successfully hits most of the worst dystopian cliches.

IN A WORLD where people move as quickly as possible and speak like radio operators (ending everything with “go” rather than “over” to imply speediness, which makes no sense considering that this just adds a syllable to every line of a conversation but whatever), the revolutionaries want to SLOW DOWN. The world building is pretty minimal, with a number of WTF elements, like the standing sleeping bed and the rebellion that meditates really hard to achieve slow heart rates. View Spoiler »

Without spoilers, Decelerate Blue is a blend of 1984 and The Matrix, but it doesn’t do anything nearly as well as those books do. With half-assed world building and characterization, the graphic novel lacks impact. It’s also an absurd, laugh-inducing version. I just can’t take it seriously.

I came for the f/f, and it wasn’t worth it tbh. Angela and Gladys (who refers to herself in the third person???) instalove all over each other, and it’s nauseating and uncomfortable. Also, for no reason whatsoever, they’re 14-15 years old, but they have a bunch of sex, and I’m just over here grimacing uncomfortably. Gladys is really controlling in their brief relationship and then View Spoiler ». So yeah, not a great ship. Or ending, though it’s a classic dystopian sort of way to end things.

Really the only thing I liked about this graphic novel was the art, which is the only thing saving this book from a 1.5. There’s not much that’s innovative here, and all of that is unintentionally hilarious. Don’t bother. Hilariously, I let a friend look at this (who will typically read or watch ANY LGBT+ thing no matter how bad), and she could not get through it.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (161): Decelerate Blue; That Thing We Call a HeartThat Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim
Published by HarperTeen on May 9, 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
two-half-stars

High school has ended, and Shabnam Qureshi is facing a summer of loneliness and boredom. She’s felt alienated from her gutsy best friend, Farah, ever since Farah started wearing the Muslim head scarf—without even bothering to discuss it with Shabnam first. But no one else comes close to understanding her, especially not her parents.

All Shabnam wants to do is get through the summer. Get to Penn. Begin anew. Not look back.

That is, until she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack and meets her there every afternoon.

Shabnam sees Jamie and herself like the rose and the nightingale of classic Urdu poetry, which, according to her father, is the ultimate language of desire. Jamie finds Shabnam fascinating—her curls, her culture, even her awkwardness. Shabnam quickly finds herself in love, while Farah, who Shabnam has begun to reconnect with, finds Jamie worrying.

In her quest to figure out who she really is and what she really wants, Shabnam looks for help in an unexpected place—her family.

Much as I hate to say it, I was not a huge fan of That Thing We Call a Heart. There’s some good stuff here for sure, but mostly I was frustrated by the book it chose to be instead of the amazing one I could imagine.

Remember back in the day when every single YA was about a boring girl who made terrible life choices and she had this amazing sarcastic best friend, and it was MASSIVELY frustrating that the book wasn’t about the best friend? That’s the experience I had here. Shabnam isn’t especially bright, and she abandons her best friend Farah because Farah chooses to begin wearing hijab. Most of the book is spent watching Shabnam obsess over a boy who, while cute, is clearly just not that into her. Meanwhile, Farah’s amazing, sarcastic, strong, feminist, Muslim, and incredibly intelligent.

It really puzzles me that this book focuses not on the amazing Muslim character but on a sorta-maybe-kinda Muslim who’s actually pretty uncomfortable with Islam. I’m just not sure why that was the story to be told. I’d have loved a story about Farah so much and about the way Shabnam’s treatment hurt her. In this story too, Farah forgives Shabnam much too easily, and Shabnam only learns so much.

However, the tale of frustrated romance is decently well done. It’s overtly going to end terribly, and there are signs from the beginning of Jamie’s lack of investment, but you also totally get why she’s so into him. It’s very much not my favorite sort of story, but, aside from the intense jealousy directed towards Farah, it’s fine.

The strongest element of That Thing We Call a Heart is Shabnam’s relationship with her parents. She gets to know them both better over the course of the book, and she helps her dad learn how to be a bit more romantic, which is pretty cute. The poetry was actually surprisingly delightful (just because I’m not generally into poetry), even Shabnam’s poem (despite its desperation).

If the premise sounds good to you, go for it. I would probably try more Karim in the future, depending on whether I really liked the sound of the plot. This one was more of a fundamental subject matter disconnect for me.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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