Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

nimona

2015. HarperTeen. Hardcover. 266 pages.

Review:

In this graphic novel, a shapeshifter girl named Nimona offers herself as a sidekick to Lord Blackheart, supervillain, as he opposes the Institution and its chief champion, Sir Goldenloin.

The world of Nimona is a mash-up of Renaissance Faire fantasy, sci-fi, and modern humor. My mind also kept connecting it tonally to the film Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

The three central characters of Nimona and their interactions are all wonderful. From the banter of Nimona and Lord Blackheart to the whole frenemy dynamic going on between Lord Blackheart and Sir Goldenloin, the story had me invested in these three.

On a more particular note, I realized I’m a fan of when shapeshifters are disguised as animals, especially as animal companions to humans. That particular fondness extends to a whole family of story elements such as people temporarily trapped in animal bodies (Eustace in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, various people in Bedknobs & Broomsticks); animals with human intelligence (e.g. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH), and even just super-loyal smart animals who come to their human’s rescue (White Fang). I mean this is not guaranteed to make me like a story (that Kevin Spacey-as-cat movie looks horrific), but when it’s done well, it’s a delight.

Nimona has a surprisingly high body count considering its general comic touch. Respect for human life is espoused but most of those who are killed are anonymous, so there’s not much impact to their deaths. I really enjoyed the novel, but I must admit it is a bit callous.

This is the first work that I’ve read by Noelle Stevenson. I haven’t really plunged into the world of comics, so I don’t know when I’ll get around to Lumberjanes, but it will be fun to see how her career develops.

Excerpts from other reviews:

The BiblioSanctum (Wendy) – “Stevenson crafts a dark but quirky and amusing tale of betrayal and corporate shenigans, forcing the questioning of good versus evil and what it really means to be a hero.”

ComicAlly – “Like shape-shifting Nimona, the book starts off as one thing, morphs into something else, and then something else again. It’s like we’re seeing Stevenson try to figure out what the comic is supposed to be.”

things mean a lot – “I’m more of a Ballister than a Nimona in my approach to supervillany (civilians out of the way first, then explosions), but I’m still thrilled to find a character who occupies the sort of gray area traditionally reserved for men and remains sympathetic.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

  1. I own this. I really need to get around to reading it!

  2. Hahahaha, this IS a bit callous — which I really liked, and then also, it turned out to be surprisingly heartfelt at the end, which I also liked. Wonderful monster girl!

  3. buriedinprint

    This sounds great. And I love that thing you’re describing that you found in this story, too. Do you know Andre Alexis’ novel Fifteen Dogs? It’s one of the most powerful stories I’ve read this year. It’s also won a lot of awards on the CanLit scene, so I expect it would be easy to find south of the border too.

  4. Kailana – I basically read it all in one sitting! I try to be careful not to rush through graphic novels which I can accidentally do, if I’m focused too much on the words and not enough on the art. But I did a pretty good job with pacing myself with Nimona.

    Jenny – it definitely does have heart, despite its measure of callousness. 🙂

    buriedinprint – Yes, Fifteen Dogs has been on my to-read list for about a year. I don’t remember how I heard about it, but as soon as I heard the premise, I was on board.

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