This isn’t a book review, this is a book recommendation. As such, I won’t be comparing the good/bad, what I thought worked/didn’t work, or any of those things you expect out of a review. Instead, I’m telling you that I think you should read it and why.
So this has been floating around for a little while now, and I saw quite a few people in my Twitter feed losing their minds and I wasn’t quite sure why. Then I read the blurb and was like oooo, Ok, ok, I can get behind this. Check out the blurb on Goodreads:
The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic.”
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.
A book with dragons and science but also symbolism? Sign me up!
No but seriously, this graphic novel delivers all of that and then some. The first chapter is all of 2 pages and ends with Nimona as a shark, with her head tilted back, mouth wide-open, saying YEEEESSSS.
And after just those two pages I was like YAAAAASS.
(And let’s not forget the white-knight-esque “good guy”/nemesis’s name is Goldenloin. GOLDENLOIN.)
Look it’s hard to say what makes this book so damn amazing without spoiling things. Which I suppose explains why my Twitter feed was blowing up with it a few months back but no deets on why. I can safely say that one of the things I loved most is this fantasy/sci-fi setting it’s got. No, not fantasy or sci-fi, it’s both. You’ve got dragons and witches and also laser type guns and secret labs. You’ve got nobles and peasants and jousting and a legit Science Fair. Nimona shares her backstory, which is complete with a witch and a spell and a dragon, while sitting on a fridge drinking a can of soda in Blackheart’s secret lab, before asking if they can get pizza delivered. It’s a little world of it’s own and it just pulls you right in.
Beyond that world, I love all of the characters. Nimona is not at all what she seems. Well, that’s not entirely true cause she seems like an amoral shapeshifter with a knack, and penchant, for killing people–which she is. But there’s still more to it. And the backstory/relationship between Blackheart and Goldenloin, SWEET GREASY BACON, not what I thought it would be and I loved it. The characters have depth and nuance.
It’s dark and humorous and a scary and a little sad. I mean do you actually want anything else out of a story? C’mon. Also, Nimona is this short little chubby thing and I love it. She’s a shapeshifter. She can be, and is at various points, a shark, a dragon, a cat, and she chooses to be this short, chubby girl of kickassery. And I love that.
It’s a standalone and works well as one, but I can’t deny I’m a bit grabby-hands for more in this world, with these characters.
Look just shut up and read the book already!