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Graphic Novel Review: 'Nimona' by Noelle Stevenson


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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.


"Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism!"

I have a feeling that 2016 will be the year that I really get into graphic novels.  I bought a little stash recently and it's taken a considerable degree of self control not to devour them all over the past couple of weeks.  Not that there would have been anything wrong with that of course but they're quite pricey and I'm vaguely trying to keep the number of books I'm buying down a tiny bit until we actually have shelves again.

Nimona hasn't really helped my resolve.  It's genuinely funny in a dry, sarcastic way (the best way) and the story is fun without being too frothy and I really enjoyed it.  There are dragons and some appropriately fantastical-sounding science. There's also magic, a powerful organisation with dubious motives and plenty of disguises.  I'm sorry, but really - what's not to like?  There's a quote from Rainbow Rowell on the front cover that describes it as "full of humour and heart" and I'll be damned if she isn't spot on.  I picked it up wanting something to distract me from the lingering effect of The Collector and I don't think I could have picked a better diversion.

For a relatively short book that has plenty of action, there's a surprising amount of character development.  Nimona is a kick-ass shapeshifter full of bravado and snippy comebacks but she's also vulnerable, with a dark side that's more fond of villainy even than the kingdom's most wanted villain, Lord Blackheart.  Lord Blackheart, meanwhile, fights against the established power (the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics) and is lauded as a villain but is obviously conflicted.  Plenty of the other characters are equally well fleshed out.  It could have been just another bad guy v. good guy story and the wit would have carried it but it was smarter and more subtle than that.

And since this was a graphic novel, let's talk about the art.  I was a big fan.  It's vibrant and colourful but without feeling flippant.  The panels darken and the colours deepen as the story does, creating a sinister atmosphere that sets off the writing perfectly.  I may not know much about graphic novels but I do know that this was one I "got" and really liked.

Overall:  Colour me pleasantly surprised! Nimona is a fabulous pick if you're an adult looking for something to keep you entertained for a few hours that has a bit more about it.  I'll be keeping an eye out for Noelle Stevenson's comic series, Lumberjanes, without a doubt.

Date finished: 16 January 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Genre: Graphic Novel; YA
Pictured Edition Published: in May 2015 by HarperTeen

Need more convincing?  You can look at an earlier version of the first three chapters for free HERE!

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