Nimona made me realize that I’ve been going about the post-college job search all wrong–if I just turned into a shark during the interview process, I’d be guaranteed to land any job out there.
Seriously, though, Nimona is so wonderful. The first chapter focuses on Nimona sneaking into the lair of Lord Ballister Blackheart, a misunderstood villain with a metal arm, and convincing him to hire her as his sidekick. He refuses at first, but once she reveals her shapeshifting powers (hence the shark scene) to help with any and all of his villainy needs, he decides that her help might come in handy.
It just gets weirder (and funnier) from there.
Once he has to explain to Nimona that she can’t just go around murdering people (there are rules, after all), it becomes clear that Blackheart is more of an anti-hero than a villain. He cares for the people in the kingdom, and when he learns that the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics is hoarding massive amounts of the illegal jaderoot, an extremely dangerous and illegal substance, he and Nimona work to expose the Institution for the evil organization they are before it’s too late.
But wait! Remember Blackheart’s metal arm from earlier? Turns out he got it after his best friend-turned-arch nemesis, Ambrosius Goldenloin, shot it off after losing to him in a jousting match years ago. That would suck for anyone, but it’s made even worse for Blackheart by the fact that Goldenloin is the right-hand man of the Institution, so Blackheart and Nimona have to work to defeat him, as well.
The rapport between Blackheart and Nimona is adorable; despite being a villain, Blackheart is the one who has to convince Nimona that violence isn’t always the answer. Over the course of the book, it’s clear just how much he cares about her, and he essentially turns into a protective father figure. They watch movies and rob banks for fun together, she makes fun of him, he grumbles about it while dressing her wounds and protecting her as much as he can. I half-expected him to drop a cheesy dad joke at some point in the story.
Stevenson is a master of dry humor, and her art pairs really well with her writing style. From the fact that she named two knights about to spar to the death Sirs Coriander Cadaverish and Mansley Girthrod to her perfect drawings of Nimona’s excited grins and exasperated looks, her sense of humor comes through clearly.
Despite the fact that Nimona is technically classified as a humor/adventure story, it also packs in a surprising amount of poignant, emotional scenes, as well. As well as giving readers the story’s conclusion, the last fifty or so pages of the book also delve deeper into Nimona’s past, and as the puzzle pieces of her life before meeting Ballister started to fall into place, I felt like I was getting punched in the heart a minimum of three times. The sketching, sepia-toned style that Stevenson decided to draw her flashbacks in is especially effective, and it really makes readers feel for her and her story. It’s easy to tell how much all of the characters mean to her and that the book is a labor of love, making Nimona even more fun to read at look at.
In conclusion: Nimona is awesome, and Noelle Stevenson can do no wrong.
5 out of 5 stars
Allison Racicot is the Audiobook Reviewer at Girls in Capes. She’s a recent graduate of Emerson College in Boston, and has a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. She spends too much time listening to podcasts and getting overly attached to fictional characters.