Monday, August 3, 2015

Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.
I had heard amazing things about this graphic novel, so I decided that I just had to check it out from the library. I am so, so glad I did. This thoroughly surprised me but in the best way possible. I knew almost nothing about the book or plot beforehand, but I'm kind of glad I went into it without knowing because it helped to heighten the reading experience.

When I first started, I was a bit skeptical because I felt the writing was a bit too forced and just didn't sound natural, but as the book progressed, the dialog improved a lot, until a few pages in, the writing felt seamless and smooth. The artwork was gorgeous and unique; it's very easy to pick out her style in this. I love how Nimona isn't a skinny, good girl. She's spunky and curvy--though it's not ever something that's pointed out--and she doesn't just do what she's told. Yes, she's reckless and makes mistakes, but that's human.

The whole frenemies thing was actually quite funny to watch, although there were some portions that didn't make sense to me. Lord Blackheart takes an incoming call from the director of the Institution but doesn't question why the director would be calling him and talking to him in such a way. I mean, if you're the supposed villain the Institution is going after, why would they suddenly give you a call and discuss matters with you? Perhaps his relationship with the Institution was different than I perceived, but it was hard to tell with what we were given.

I really enjoyed seeing the relationships between the characters change and grow, and I really liked the message of showing what you mean and doing rather than just saying. Saying something doesn't prove that you mean it. Going through the actions and doing it say a lot about you, your values, and your intentions. The conflict evolves over the course of the story, alongside the characters and relationships, and it's done in a well thought out way. It's not too much, and it's not too little. The character development was a surprise and done exceptionally well, given the space for it.

It's the same with the action. There's a lot of action, but it's also very balanced with plot and character development. The action moves both the plot and character development along and vice versa. There's a mix of funny moments and sad/serious moments, making the graphic novel still very enjoyable throughout. I loved the epilogue and thought it ended the book perfectly and on an open but also resolved note, which is basically the perfect ending.

But getting to the more fangirly part, can we just talk about the whole Nimona "twist" thing? So it wasn't completely unpredictable, but I (obviously) didn't know the extent of it. But you know what I love most? That even with all of that darkness, she's also just a human being, a girl. Everything we learn about her earlier in the book still holds true. We see why she is the way she is, and we see different sides of her. She's a multi-faceted, kick-ass character, and I love it. She's not perfect, and she has moments of weakness, but she's a great example of a strong character, in my opinion. She goes after what she seeks, but she also learns from her recklessness and from her mistakes. She doesn't let people tell her what to do, but she's eventually open to change, and she realizes that she doesn't have all the answers and isn't always the smartest and most clever. She's kick-ass and can hold her own, but she's also vulnerable and has emotions. I just LOVE her so much.
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