Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Spill Zone and Decelerate Blue, or YA Dystopian Graphic Novels Are Harsh

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you saw that I read a nice stack of graphic novels and comics during this last Saturday's 24-Hour Readathon. Two of them were dystopians and they've both stuck with me for days.

Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland have created Spill Zone, which actually comes out today from First Second. It's about Addison and her little sister Lexa, two of the survivors of a horrible something that happened in Poughkeepsie, New York. They now live alone/together in a cordoned-off area just outside the abandoned not-exactly-a-ghost-town. Lexa doesn't speak and Addison financially supports them by sneaking back into town and taking pictures of the derelict buildings and frightful creatures -- but never the people who have been left behind, the ones who hang almost-lifeless in the air with creepily glowing eyes.

In a time where we now have to face the possible prospect of nuclear war, a town that has been destroyed by some sort of bizarre radioactive substance is not the easiest subject to read about. But Addison's story is compelling, Lexa's is perplexing, and this book definitely will leave readers yearning to know what happens next. I did have to tell Z (almost 13) that he couldn't read this book. He asked if it was because of blood but, no, it was because of the super high amount of foul language. It seemed entirely appropriate for the plot and the characters but it's not something I would put in front of a tween or younger teen. This one definitely skews older YA or adult even.

A few weeks ago I got a surprise package from First Second with YA graphic novels in it. One of them was Decelerate Blue by Adam Rapp and Mike Cavallaro, a beautiful book with blue edges and black and white art. It's about a future where nothing matters but speed and brevity. All food is preprocessed, all books and films are condensed. Even language is as brief as possible. Lives are run by a corporation and, as you can guess, not everyone is thrilled about this. Angela is only in high school but she already knows that this life isn't for her. She wants something different and she finds it by accident when she stumbles into the lair of the resistance.

The beginning of this book seriously had me stressed! The frantic conversations, each sentence of which ends with the word "Go", made me feel rushed and irritated. Angela's frustrations came through clearly, as did her immediate relief once she found the resistance. The ending was heartbreaking but the ultimate message of appreciating each moment balanced that out somewhat. As some of us participate in small rebellions and resistances of our own these days, this book seems particularly relevant.

Speaking up today to keep these from being our tomorrows,


  1. Need to read both of these now! Though I totally admit that it's way harder for me reading dystopian stories than it used to be.

    1. It's definitely hard when you can find any way that they relate to the ACTUAL dystopia we are living in now. It's a little cathartic to read them too though.

  2. Decelerate Blue sounds intriguing!

  3. Ahahahah, oh man, when I was 12 and 13 I was reading the MOST FOUL-MOUTHED fiction behind my parents' back. I turned out okay! Okay, but with a serious potty-mouth, so uh, you are probably making the right decisions here. :p

    (I am still not over Z being nearly a teenager. HOW.)

    1. LOL!!! Well, we aren't a swear-free house so he already has his fair share of bad examples. For him, though, the written word sticks more than the spoken. So, yes, I'll keep this one away from him for a bit but he's going to end up being an adult with a penchant for colorful language. Que serĂ¡, serĂ¡.
      And I am dying that he is almost a teenager. He was so little (four) when I started this blog!