When I decided that I wanted to include book reviews as part of this blog, I thought a lot about the kind of books I’d review. I read pretty widely, and I wondered if my eclectic taste would speak to the audience I imagined myself writing for. Should I include science fiction? Comics? Non-fiction? Would anyone want to read about Roald Dahl alongside recommendations for lingerie to buy?
In the end, I decided that I would simply write about books I loved.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is a book that I love very much. Nimona is a graphic novel that first appeared online and is soon to be published in hardcopy. Nimona is a shapeshifter who volunteers to squire the surly-but-actually-really-sweet super villain Ballister Blackheart as he fights his nemesis Goldenloin (and the establishment) in a sort-of medieval, sort-of 21st Century reality.
I love Nimona’s character. There’s a bit of Lena Dunham in her – she’s unashamed in asking for what she wants, mischievous and incredibly dynamic. AND she could look any way she wants (being a shapeshifter and all …) but she’s content to look like a slightly chubby medieval punk. Her relationship with Ballister is charming and the care they have for each other is depicted as much in their physicality as in their dialogue – Nimona leans over his shoulder like an incessant younger sibling; Ballister instinctively stands in between Nimona and an explosion.
The other thing I love is the enthusiastic fan community around Nimona. Stevenson published a page a week as the story developed, and when you read it online it’s impossible to miss the commentary following along. It comes in two streams, which I find utterly charming. You have the fans who are reading along and genuinely speculating about the plot, and you have those who go back to re-read Nimona, falling in love all over again with the character and marvelling at the way in which the story and art has developed.
If you’ve never read a graphic novel, this is absolutely the place to start. If you’ve read a million other graphic novels, I still think you should drop everything and read Nimona. It’s completely delightful and completely bewitching.