Saturday, December 12, 2015

Nimona » Review

I found Nimona at my library, tucked into those little display stands that librarians use in lieu of shaking you and saying, read this!  Those displays always catch my attention, and Nimona caught mine doubly because of the striking girl on the cover — the eponymous Nimona.

I saw her and immediately thought of Eleanor, from Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park.  Eleanor, with her wide hips and big boobs — a future bombshell body in its awkward, early stages.  But nothing about Nimona says awkward.  She's dressed in a chain-mail accented mini-dress, proudly showing off her knee dimples.  She has a punk rock haircut, the kind that's mostly buzz-cut that you need confidence to pull off.  All of that, and she's standing in the center, slightly in front of, two grown men.

Her expression is fierce, and joyful at the same time, like she's saying to you, Betcha don't have the guts to pick up my story! 

Needless to say, I picked up the book and checked it out.  What I discovered was a graphic novel full of "humor and heart," as Rowell herself puts it in her blurb of the book.

Artist and author Noelle Stevenson creates a world that combines classic fantasy elements with science fiction.  (It works better than you might think!) In that world she's planted Ballister Blackheart and Ambrosius Goldenloin, two former boyhood friends and schoolmates who whose relationship turned sour after a gruesome jousting "accident."  Now men, Blackheart has become a loathed villain, while Goldenloin is a celebrated knight for the 'Institution.'  Then, their world of bad-guy-and-hero spins off its axis with the arrival of Nimona on Blackheart's doorstep.  She's his new sidekick, "sent from the agency!"

Nimona looks and acts like a rambunctious girl, but she quickly proves to be more than she seems...

[caption id="attachment_1433" align="aligncenter" width="399" class="imagepro-polaroid "]nimona shark These rough panels are taken from the original webcomic. The artwork in the book has been sharpened and refined.[/caption]

She's a shapeshifter! It's the perfect metaphor for Nimona's character, too, because just when you think you've got her figured out, she evolves.  She's a wonderfully complex character, constantly shifting while staying consistent.  I'd love to discuss her character in more depth, but I also don't dare to give anything away!  All I'll say is that Nimona was more than I could have imagined.

As for the art... I loved it!  It's presented to us in a sketchy style, with exaggerated shapes and figures.  The backgrounds are simple and muted, letting the colors and lines of the characters pop. What I'd like to know is — can Noelle Stevenson do more, or was she drawing at her best?  If the former, I'd have liked to see her push herself a little farther.  If the latter, then she did well working within her skill boundaries.

In regards to the storyline and writing, that is where Nimona could see some improvement.  The plot, aside from everything Nimona, was quite simple... "classic" if you want to put it nicely, and "cliched" if you don't.  I found some of the names and titles in the book to be a little too simple and slapdash for my tastes.  The 'Institution.' Really? And as for Blackheart and Goldenloin... well, I would have liked their characters to be a little less predictable and categorized.

But, overall, if you love graphic novels, this won't be a title you'll want to miss, especially if you want to read about a diverse and complex female character.  I hope Nimona steals your heart as much as it did mine.



  1. Ack. I kept bypassing this on my trips to the bookstore! Sounds like a good time. :D

  2. It was a joyful read!