Teenager Nimona is a spunky shapeshifter hunkering for some good ol’ fashioned villainy. Whether it’s due to her impressive magical abilities or her knack for worming her way into the blackest of hearts, she somehow lands a job as a sidekick for Ballister Blackheart, “the biggest name in supervillainy”. Blackheart has plans to take down his archnemesis, the kingdom’s hero Ambrosius Goldenloin, by infiltrating the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics and revealing to the world that they are up to something other than heroism. With Ballister’s careful planning and Nimona’s boundless enthusiasm, villain and sidekick make an unstoppable pair. But, the Institution is more powerful and insidious than they ever realized. Will the Institution succeed in their nefarious purposes or will the true heroes rise to the challenge?
In between acts of villainy, are plenty of hijinks and attempts at “parenting” and a growing of friendship and trust. Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona illustrates warmth and wit in every panel to deliver an epic of a story wrapped in trappings made of the fantasy and superhero tales we love so well.
I had so much fun reading Nimona that I made an attempt to list out the reasons why to try to convince you to give it a read, too!
Here are 4 reasons why you should read Noelle Stevenson’s wicked funny, heart-melty story, NIMONA!
1. A villain that isn’t really a villain, a hero that isn’t really a hero, a monster that isn’t really a monster
Ballister Blackheart might have the scars, goatee, and squeaky metal arm that we expect a typical villain to have, but his heart is far from black. When he rages kingdoms aren’t destroyed—he’s really just scolding Nimona for almost getting herself killed and coming home to Blackheart HQ past midnight. In fact, the most horrible thing he does is ruin movie night and put sardines on Nimona’s pizza…
Ambrosius Goldenloin might wear the familiar shining armor (and have the shining golden hair) of a hero but he does the opposite of protecting children and acts all too much like a minion doing the dirty work for the evil behind-the-scenes Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. Also, he takes far too long to apologize when he’s done wrong.
Nimona might enjoy stirring up chaos and panic a little too much while in her various creature forms, but she’s not a monster—she’s more likely a lonely teenage girl who’s looking for people to love her and accept her for who she is. More likely than not the most headache she causes is when she doesn’t listen to Ballister, has an attack of the Teenage Mood Swing, and starts thinking she can make her own “doors”.
At the root of the real conflict is the Institution that gave them the labels for their own sinister purpose. It makes perfect sense that Nimona—our resident shapeshifter girl who can’t be pinned down—will take the lead in destroying those labels in an epic battle-out at the end of the story and make the world safe for everyone to just be themselves.
2. A bit of Science and Magic, a bit of Medieval and Modern, a whole lot of somethings in between
To hell with the rules! If there needs to be communication consoles and fire-breathing dragons, supercharged armor and witches that bestow magical gifts, pizza deliveries and jousting festivals— all in the same world then so be it. It almost feels as if Noelle Stevenson mashes up and adds in all the ingredients on a whim but it’s all done in a genius way by an artist who knows how to charm a story into a person’s heart—and make a person crack up on every page. The motley assortment of props for the world give the story a flavor that is just the right amount of nostalgia and geekery over all our favorite sci-fi and fantasy tropes. Most importantly, the world isn’t what’s important —the story and characters are. Hence I am okay with the use of board games as a device for furthering paternal bonding.
3. Cheeky, lively humor of the “Look look! Isn’t this funny?” variety that will annoy the hell out of some random stranger
Whether it’s in the dialogue or in the artwork, the humor is tongue-in-cheek and both familiar and surprising but totally on point! The artwork for Nimona, in particular, totally captures her capriciousness, curiosity and impishness all of which adds to her likability. There is also such an adorable humor in the back-and-forth between her and Ballister that endears the hell out of them to readers.
4. An ending that will make you tear up in a good way
Nimona starts off light-hearted but allows the story to gather depth as you go until you finally reach an emotionally satisfying ending you may not have expected at the beginning. All the major character arcs are given their due time to develop but we don’t get a neatly packaged ending—we get a more authentic and raw one. The sort of ending that will make all those scenes before it so much more precious to enjoy. I won’t reveal more because I don’t want to spoil you, but the ending has definitely left my heart full to the brim!
Rating: 4.5 sharks!