Cover Review: I love this cover so much. It’s adorable, and gives you a good sense of the adventure and beautiful art style within the book. I mean, this is only the second graphic novel I’ve read, so what do I know about art style? But I really enjoyed the art. Also (you can’t really tell in the picture), there’s so much detail in the background of this cover that’s so cute and goes along with the story so well.
Author: Noelle Stevenson
Description: Stand-alone(?) YA graphic novel
Publishing Information: Released May 12, 2015 by HarperCollins Publishers
First Line: “What? Who are you? How did you get in here?” (Kind of out-of-context and unhelpful considering this is a graphic novel…)
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
This is the first graphic novel I’ve ever reviewed, mainly because (with the exception of Smile in fifth grade) it’s the first graphic novel I’ve ever read! I typically avoid graphic novels because 1) I like to buy/own all of the books I read but 2) graphic novels are really expensive, especially considering 3) they don’t last me very long.
However, of all the graphic novels I’ve read – which, admittedly, isn’t that many – this one was my absolutely favorite. Though best book out of two books isn’t that impressive, I’m confident that in comparison to other graphic novels out there, this is one of the best.
It was just so good. The plot wasn’t anything too extraordinarily new (villain with goofy sidekick do villainous things while annoyingly wonderful superhero stops them), but it was executed very, very well. Because I haven’t read very many graphic novels, I guess I’m not that great of a judge of art styles yet, but this one was adorable. All of the pictures seemed very nice and coordinated side-by-side, but the color uses changed from scene to scene.
I think it’s fitting that Rainbow Rowell blurbed this book. If Rainbow Rowell wrote a good vs. evil adventure story and had it turned into a graphic novel, it would be this book. The characters are so lovable and remain hilarious even in “dastardly” situations.
What separates this book from other good vs. evil stories is that it’s become clearer that the “good” organization might not be as good as everyone is led to believe. The “evil” side, in the form of Ballister Blackheart and his new assistant Nimona, has a main goal to return justice and, if things go according to Blackheart’s “rules”, kill as few people as possible.
I didn’t plan to read this book in one sitting, but I honestly don’t know how it would be possible not to. It’s incredibly fast-paced, beyond what you can normally expect from a story that’s mainly comprised of pictures. It wasn’t just that I could read this book in one sitting, I wanted to.
Though a surprising amount of characters are introduced in a pretty short book, we follow three main people: Nimona, Lord Ballister Blackheart, and Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin.
Nimona was nothing like what I expected her to be. There was a lot more to her character than the typical qualities of goofy sidekicks that we’ve come to know in many different stories. Her backstory is slowly revealed throughout the book and it’s fascinating. Usually in graphic novels, they kind of have to say everything flat-out, because it’s hard to make assumptions when you’re not getting that constant stream of narrative. This book wasn’t like that, and it was fantastic.
Ballister Blackheart was easily the most lovable “villain” in the history of books. He wasn’t much of a villain; I’d sooner regard him as a hero fighting the rogue heroes in the most peaceful way possible. He slowly warms up to Nimona but doesn’t allow this new friendship make him reckless or abandon what he believes in, which I appreciate because that seems to be rare in YA literature.
Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin was the epitome of a pathetic hero, because that’s what he’s supposed to be. Even his name screams that he is going to be frustrating. His rise to power as a “hero” and character development throughout the story was almost as beautiful as his hair.
It’s kind of hard to quote a graphic novel, but I had so many favorite moments within this book. Though it was a story in and of itself, there also seemed to be moments when it was mocking other heroic stories a little bit. For example (and I’ll try to recreate this as best as possible)…
Nimona: Boss, he’s going to sound the alarm!
Nimona: Boss, he sounded the alarm!
All of the dialogue was adorable. Also the epilogue. Epilogues get me every time.
I’m not going to lie, the ending confused me a little bit. The epilogue was great, but I didn’t quite understand the last twenty pages or so leading up to it. Everything is going so crazy, and then it calms down and everyone is dead but then no one is or are they but… wait? What? I don’t know. I wish that the ending had been a bit more flushed out and explained before we get into the adorable epilogue.
We also didn’t get much reasoning behind the magic system in this world (or if there even is one), the government, and the reasoning behind the bad guys going evil. It’s hard to provide a long-winded backstory like you normally get in a fantasy story when said fantasy story is a graphic novel, but it would’ve helped make it slightly less confusing.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of graphic novels and really fun stories in general. It’s a quick read, but you’re going to want to read it all at once so be sure to clear your schedule beforehand. I’ll definitely be picking up more of Noelle Stevenson’s work in the future. The ending wasn’t completely clear, but I wouldn’t say that it was disappointing. It was still definitely worth the read.
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