Author: Noelle Stevenson
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
While I've followed a few of Noelle Stevenson's social media profiles in the past, I was more interested in Stevenson's artwork than the actual story. I didn't read Nimona as it was being released as a webcomic, and I hadn't really planned on reading it once it was published in physical form. But, when my brother arrived home from the bookstore with a copy and I recognized it, I quickly stole it away to read for myself.
What I found was a story set in a land where everything was not quite as it seemed. Our protagonists, Lord Ballister Blackheart and Nimona, supervillain and sidekick, respectively, weren't hard to grow fond of. Nimona, a risk-taking, shapeshifting girl (with an affinity for sharks) is a good balance for Ballister, a villain who tries hard to avoid casualties and wants what's best for the kingdom's people. Between Nimona's hinted-at-and-definitely-tragic backstory and Ballister's complicated relationship with his nemisis, Sir Abrosius Goldenloin, the characters' dynamics are what really make the story memorable. The dialogue feels natural and funny and the characters' relationships with one another feel very real and lifelike.
Any criticism I have for this novel is all rooted in my own preferences. I wish Nimona's character had been explained more, but if it had I think that Noelle Stevenson would have been telling a completely different story. I almost wish the ending was less ambiguous, but that's because I'm a sucker for happily-ever-afters, and Stevenson had the skill to end without answering every question, which really reflected the tone of the book.
While this may seem like a story geared towards children, I would have to disagree. It's hard to classify any character as particularly "good" or "bad", or even to sort them into heroes and villains, if we are to use the book's own language. Each character has to make decisions that aren't entirely right or wrong, and then they have to face the consequences. A common theme throughout the book is forgiveness, and how even when it may be the right thing to do, forgiving someone can feel impossible, and earning someone's forgiveness can be even harder.
I would definitely recommend this book. If you're looking for quick read (it took me about an hour or two) and a book whose characters and storyline will stick with you, then this is the book for you. And, as an added bonus, the style of art, while not only fun to look at, matches perfectly with the story (I'm especially a fan of the rosy-tinted flashback panels).
My rating: 4.5/5 badly drawn books
My favorite quote: "You chose to play along all these years. That doesn't just go away." (page 186)