by Guanani Gomez
In a sentence: A shapeshifter named Nimona and a mad scientist named Ballister Blackheart team up to take down their kingdom’s corrupt Institution for Law Enforcement and Heroics, a goofy premise that grows into something much darker and more awesome.
This delightful graphic novel begins as a medieval villain caper, complete with charming drawings, science, magic, conspiracy theories, puns (!), and complex characters. Nimona began as author/illustrator Noelle Stevenson’s art school thesis, and quickly grew into a popular webcomic that has now been published in book form. After hearing a recommendation, I flipped through the first few pages at the store and quickly found myself completely engrossed, so moved by the story’s momentum that I read the entire book while perched awkwardly in a corner of Powell’s.
Nimona has quickly become my second favorite graphic novel (after Neil Gaiman’s Sandman). In addition to humor and several touching moments, Nimona contains one of my favorite female leads in recent memory. She’s spunky, funny, and drives the action with her powers and unusual set of morals. Toward the end, as we find out more about the mysterious origins of Nimona’s shapeshifting abilities, it becomes unclear who the audience should be rooting for. Even so, the story comes to a sweet and climactic conclusion, satisfying while still leaving questions about the characters’ fates and choices.
I look forward to seeing more work from Stevenson, who has created a story about a complicated and powerful heroine that is also a kick-ass action book with real heart. Whether you have a free weekend to enjoy an amusing story with substance, or need a gift for that special bookworm in your life, Nimona is an excellent choice.