Book Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

4 out of 5 stars

I am really loving graphic novels these days. This has not been a genre I have spent a lot of time with. In the past most of them revolved around characters I didn’t find interesting. Women were often a scantily clad accessory or victim. I am finding serval graphic novels which are the antithesis of that narrow mind set I had and the most recent book my son and I have read is called Nimona. Noelle Stevenson wrote the story and illustrated the book and it is a fun adventure.

Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin who happens to be a bit of a goody-2-shoes and is the defender of the kingdom and the “Institute”. He and Lord Ballister Blackheart (our super villain) grew up together as orphans and during a friendly battle, something goes horribly wrong leading each man down his path. Blackheart is out to prove that even the good guys are not as good as they seem. Nimona, a very strong young woman comes into Blackheart’s life and wants to help him with his villainy. He wants to be evil, but doesn’t want to bring death to anyone unnecessarily. Nimona has other ideas and tries to lead him into over taking the kingdom and becoming King, especially once they find out that the Institute is up to no good at all. They end up saving each other over and over again. Learning more about each other as they go.

This novel has wonderful heart and spirit. The story is really lovely and there is lots of action. I love Nimona and her sense of humor. Blackheart doesn’t end up living up to his name and his story really turns into one of love and acceptance. Sir Goldenloin comes around and overcomes his pride and Nimona learns to trust. The ending is a bit of a surprise and I really appreciated the final outcome.

This is all set in a fantastic world, mixing medieval jousting, dragons and cod pieces with more modern science and learning. It was quite a juxtaposition! In one case I felt like I was seeing aliens and then we were in the jousting tournament.

The illustrations are great with lots of color and the novel was based on Ms. Stevenson’s web comic Nimona which was award winning. The book was also a Nation Book Award Finalist. You may also know Stevenson from her work on the Lumberjanes books as well (another favorite of ours!).

The book is rated 13+ but I felt comfortable with my 9 year old reading it. The violent scenes were cartoony and didn’t feel overly brutal and shouldn’t distress younger readers. My son’s take away was more that they didn’t want to kill anyone, so I felt like that spoke volumes about what really sticks for his age group. There is a little bit of strong language which I didn’t see as a problem in our family (dammit, pissed, etc – nothing stronger than that). I love that Nimona is a strong protagonist and she speaks her mind and will defend her case. She is no shrinking violet and isn’t taking non-sense from anyone. She stands up for what she believes. The men are equally as strong but more thoughtful in their approaches. They are not as quick to act as Nimona. I also love that the scientists are female and despite being super dreamy and kind of float in appearance (most of the female scientists I know are quite different from that but I love that we see females in these roles).

Both my son and I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it highly!

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