Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Published 2015 by Harper Collins.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: YA fantasy/sci-fi graphic novel.

My rating:

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.

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Gah, I’ve had this post saved as a draft for months. I read this book… ages ago, it seems, but it’s stuck with me and I even included it in my “best of 2015” post because it’s great. And I’ve successfully made my husband read it (he loved it, too) and now my copy is with my brother who loves comics and graphic novels and I’m waiting for his thanks, to be honest. :)

Nimona is the first graphic novel I’ve read in a long, long while. I used to read some comics when I was in high school (mostly the stuff my brother bought, so PeanutsCalvin and Hobbes and Dilbert were featured strongly) and I read Blankets, which was really nice (I have to re-read it sometime soon) and The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was cool but not amazing. And then I just… stopped. I don’t even know why. But then I saw Nimona popping up all over the book blogs that I like and everyone loved it and the artwork looked cute but special so I gave in and ordered it. Best. Decision. Ever. (Okay, maybe not ever but it was really great.)

nimona7Nimona (the character) is a shape shifter with a tendency of turning into sharks at unexpected moments. Her origin and the exact extent of capabilities are a mystery and she pops up in Lord Ballister Blackheart’s secret lair and joins forces with him to destroy the Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics, which isn’t as heroic as they would like everyone to believe. Their foremost champion is Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, Ballister’s old buddy-turned-nemesis.

I really liked both the plot and the characters of this graphic novel. I was afraid of the characters falling flat because there can be no descriptions or whatever in this type of story, you only get their actions and dialogue. But Stevenson did a great job giving these three main characters some serious layers (and complicated relationships <3) – and even the villains are cool.

nimona6I also loved the mashup of sci-fi and fantasy: dragons combined with laser guns and mad scientists may sound like an overkill but Stevenson somehow makes it work without the illustrations being over-the-top crazy. Her artwork is clean and cute but never doubt it: there are some serious issues tackled in this novel, so it’s not just fluff and explosions.

Nimona is a standalone graphic novel – and while this is great because the story is concise and the pacing amazing, I kind of wish to read more about these guys. I’ll most definitely be reading whatever Stevenson does next (I know she’s the artist for Lumberjanes but I’m waiting for a collected edition of some kind…). Oh and if you like reading about Star Wars, feminism and geekery in general, I highly suggest following her on Twitter.

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Have you read Nimona? What did you think?

Do you have any similar graphic novel recs for me? (I’m reading Saga, too.)

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • I looove Nimona. And me and my partner might have spent the whole holiday during which we read it randomly nomming each other and yelling “I’m a shark!”

    • Hahaha that sounds like amazing fun! :D I saw some amazing cosplay of Nimona – and it always included the person carrying a stuffed shark along to the convention. :) I’d love to cosplay her (it?) but I don’t think anyone in Slovenia would recognize me…

  • I’ve heard such amazing things about Nimona, and your review has made me want to read it even more! :)

    • Aw, thanks, it’s always nice to hear a thing like that! :) I hope you give it a try, I really, really enjoyed it.

  • This graphic novel has been sitting on my dresser beside my bed for the past few months, waiting to be read. Soon! Despite my huge comics backlog I too am always looking for graphic novel recommendations, so I’d love to see what else you review :)

    • Wooo, if you already have it, get reading, I think I read it in one sitting. :)
      I read 3 parts of Saga so far, I like that, but other than that I really don’t know much about graphic novels… :( I’ll change that someday, I hope.

  • I’ve heard such wonderful things about Nimona I know I NEED to read it asap^^ Thanks for sharing some of the art as well, it made this look and sound even better than it already did :D Glad you loved this one so much Kaja and thanks for the fantastic review!

    • Haha, yeah, I’ve only seen great reviews, too, and I’m usually wary of books like this, but this one definitely wasn’t over-hyped in my opinion. You can check out more artwork on Noelle Stevenson’s page (link is up top, next to the cover), she does some amazing stuff. I can’t wait for her new comics!
      Thanks, Micheline! :)

  • I loved the artwork and humour in Nimona. I loved the story and the characters and that everything was a little bit ridiculous which made the more serious moments really stand out. Does that make sense? I think the it was the strange, randomness of the humour in it that was my favourite part. It also turned out I’d be following the artists tumblr for a good year or two and I was thrilled, although confused at how it took me so long to hear about Nimona.

    • YES, that’s it exactly – the funny stuff makes a great contrast to the actual serious topics tackled in the story.
      Did you know Noelle Stevenson is only 24 years old? I always feel so inadequate when I hear about someone so young doing something so great. And I checked out her Tumblr, it’s great! :D

      • Don’t tell me these things! She’s 24? I feel like a failure now. I’m about to turn 25 and have achieved nothing substantial in my life apart from having an extremely overstuffed book shelf.

        • Ah, come on, I didn’t say this to make you feel bad. You know, I once saw a list of mega-successful people who didn’t make it until later in life (like 40s or 50s): they are some very well-known people. I’m not worried, I like my life and I think that as long as you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re on the right track. :)

  • Nimoooooonaaaaa! I loved that graphic novel. I was expecting something fun and silly, but it was so much more than that. I really loved how Stevenson challenged the readers idea of what is a good guy and what is a bad guy.

    Another graphic novel that really impressed me was the new Ms Marvel series with Kamala Khan. She’s my hero!

    • Yeah, I have Ms Marvel on my tbr, I remember reading your review! :)

      And I KNOOOOW, I love morally grey characters, they’re the best. Ballister was such a sweet villain. <3