graphic novel, Speculative Fiction

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – Review

It’s been a while since I’ve read a new graphic novel, so it was great fun to dive into such a good one. Nimona gave me what I expected in the best possible way – lots of fun, action, sharp humour and likable characters – and also what I didn’t expect – emotional scenes and relationships. I was somewhat disappointed by the ending, but otherwise really liked the book and think it’s something I’d reread.

We start off the story by meeting Ballister Blackheart, ‘the biggest name in supervillainy’, and Nimona, a young girl and shapeshifter who convinces him to make her his sidekick. As they uncover possible secrets at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics and attempt to wreak havoc, things escalate. Standing in their way is Sir Goldenloin, who has a past with Blackheart, but possibly the most intriguing and threatening of all are the secrets behind Nimona’s own powers.

In terms of visuals, I wasn’t completely taken with Nimona’s art style (especially the
font/handwriting in the dialogue) at first, but it grew on me as the book progressed. The colours were always great and vibrant, though, and I enjoyed the creativity in the character designs and the settings. One issue I had was that at some parts of the story, particularly in major battles and the like, that the action moved too quickly between panels. I had to struggle to keep up with what was going on and go back to some previous panels to try and follow what had happened from one sequence to the next. Not a huge issue, but a noticeable one.

As I said, Nimona had great humour, dialogue, action and plain fun from the first page. I won’t go into too much detail about this, because it’s something you need to experience for yourself, but there were jokes about everything from heroes and villains to slapstick to science to magic abound. Definitely could be enjoyed by people of all ages. There’s a slight edge of silliness, in a fun way, that never went overboard to detract from the story; and it’s also something which I think was helped by the visual medium.

The characters were also very likable. Telling the story from the villains’ point of view has been done, and not always well, but it’s pulled off very effectively here. I admired, laughed and rooted for Blackheart and Nimona the whole way.

The biggest issue with the book was, as I said above, the ending. Without giving too much away, there was nowhere near enough closure. It was somewhat sad with a touch of hopefulness – which I’m fine with – but when this was done on top of a lack of closure I ended up feeling disappointed.

I’m still happy to recommend Nimona for everything else that it did so well. It’s difficult to think of similar recommendations because of everything unique about the book, but if you enjoy graphic novels, kids’ cartoons with that depth and universal appeal which everyone will enjoy, and fantasy (with a touch of science), you’ll enjoy this!

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