Book Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Image Description: The book-cover of Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. The background of the cover is dark-green with multiple outline images of various animals. In the foreground. is a trio of characters, from left to right is Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin (a man with long golden blonde hair wearing golden armour and a green cape), Nimona (a young woman with red hair, wearing a green long-sleeved shirt with a maroon t-shirt dress) with red dragon wings and red dragon tail, and Lord Ballister Blackheart (in grey armour) holding a golden sword.

Title: Nimona
Author: Noelle Stevenson
Social Media: Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format and Price: Paperback from my local library
Stars: 5 out of 5 stars

About The Author:
Noelle Stevenson is a comic artist and freelance illustrator residing in Los Angeles, California. She published the young adult graphic novel NIMONA in 2015, which is also serialized online. She has been nominated for a Harvey Award, and was awarded the Slate Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Webcomic in 2012. She is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art and has done published work for BOOM! Studios, Random House, MacMillan Press, and What Pumpkin Studios, among others. She is the co-writer of LUMBERJANES, a comic series from BOOM! Box, and has done writing work for Frederator’s BRAVEST WARRIORS as well.

About The Book:
Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the webcomic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-colour graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the webcomic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

General Observations:
~Character Development: While the plot elements work well in this narrative (more on that later), I think it’s definitely the character arc of Lord Blackheart and, to a lesser extent, Sir Goldenloin that carry the novel and up the narrative stakes. I enjoyed finding out about their backstories, mutual history, and both sides of Sir Goldenloin’s betrayal.

Sir Goldenloin knows Lord Blackheart is more of anti-villain with SCIENCE! then an actual villain who intends serious harm. Lord Blackheart’s inner conflict is of ethical behaviour, however, Sir Goldenloin’s conflict is of his desire to keep his job and his life exactly as it is are the main conflict drivers versus his personal feelings towards Lord Blackheart.

On the other hand, I don’t feel as though Nimona changed or grew as a character, however, I do think that may have been for the best. After all, Nimona is right, she isn’t broken and she doesn’t need to be fixed. I liked how the ending of the comic is left ambiguous (trying not to spoil).

~Engaging Plot: The plotting elements of Nimona are excellent, I had to know what happened next, I had to know what was the next stage of their “villainous scheme”. Every panel of the comic is utilised, no space is wasted, and I think Lord Blackheart’s definitely a dangerous contender once you give him the right motivations and the right side-kick.

~Interesting Artwork: The artwork is an interesting and unique style. The style is simple, so the panels are clear and easy to read (this is a good thing), however, the simplistic style makes the acts of villainy that Nimona and Lord Blackheart commit seem uncomfortably amusing. For example, Nimona stabbing faceless mooks shouldn’t be seen as comical, but it is comical, and while Lord Blackheart calls her out on her actions, there are never any negative consequences for her actions.

Now, I get it, I do understand that Nimona’s character is intended to be a subversion, after all, there are plenty of male monster characters that do bad things and get away with it. I just think this is something I should mention and something we should be able to talk about.

All in all, an interesting graphic novel that plays with fantasy tropes and what it means to the hero or the villain of a narrative, I’m happy to recommend.

Available for Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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