Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – Review


Book Jacket:

Nimona is an impulsive young shape-shifter 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.

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism!

All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson, based on the web comic Slate called “funny and vibrant, with wonderful energy in Stevenson’s illustrations and a wicked wit in her storytelling.”

Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the thousands of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

You can read an excerpt here.


This. Yes. THIS.

This book is spunky, witty, heartfelt, and just so, so much fun – basically it’s made of awesome, and you need to go read it, right now.

But the thing I think I adore most about this comic is just how delightfully subversive it is. Nimona is a story where the hero is the villain, the sidekick is the hero, and the villain is the damsel in distress – so basically no one fits the label they were assigned. And by the way, not only are there dragons and shapeshifters and castles, but also SCIENCE! Because this isn’t just a fantasy world, it’s also kind of the future, maybe. On top of which, Nimona, our teen heroine, is not only the most bad-ass character of the entire book, she’s also of a body type you will NEVER see in mainstream comics – so basically yes, that was the sound of your head exploding from the awesomeness this book contains.

But even better, despite all the subversion and flippant observations and out-and-out humor, never once is this book anything less than heartfelt, as this is a story about a girl trying to find her place in the world – which is without doubt a story we all can relate to. On top of which, this story also raises some interesting questions about exactly what the difference is between the good guys and the bad guys, and who is it that gets to assign that peg hole, one way or the other.

And can I just say how much I adore – the ACTION! Because Nimona, as a shapeshifter, engages in some of the most delightfully tongue-in-cheek fight sequences I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, as she takes the form of everything from a squirrel to a shark to a dragon. It’s basically so much fun it’s ridiculous.

But also – to step back and take the larger view for a moment – I think this book is a really important representation of another side of the comics world, one many people might not be familiar with. Because Nimona actually started life as a web comic, only to later be picked up by Harper Collins for publication – and I think web comics, and indy comics, are really exploding in wonderful ways right now, especially in terms of comics written of, by, and for girls. It’s still too easy, I think, to conflate the world of comics to DC and Marvel, to tights and capes, but there is a whole universe out there besides the Big Two, and it’s a vibrant and diverse one. And Nimona makes for a wonderful example of just how much awesome there is to be found.

So in the end, basically my review can be summarized thusly: Nimona, I love you. Smart and heartfelt, not to mention hilarious, this book manages to be both a story about acceptance and belonging, and also just a rollicking good time. Nimona is an unexpected joy, and entirely impossible to resist.

Byrt Grade: A+

As Levar Burton likes to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Publishers Weekly (starred review) says:

Sharp visuals, a nifty amalgam of fantasy and science fiction elements, and relationships drawn with complexity, wit, and depth create a world worth returning to again and again.

Girls in Capes say:

In conclusion: Nimona is awesome, and Noelle Stevenson can do no wrong.