Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson


NimonaGenre: Grapic Novel, Fantasy
Harper Collins
Published: May 12 2015
Pages: 272
Buy: Amazon // Book Depository
Follow Noelle Stevenson on Twitter

Add to 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.

Have you ever read a book that you thought you’d casually enjoy, but then by the end of it you’re crying and hugging it and rocking back and forth because your entire being is hurting and you don’t know if you’ll ever be okay again? Nimona ripped my soul from my body and it still hasn’t returned.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I picked up Nimona. I pretty much went in blind because I hadn’t had any prior knowledge of the webcomic. I didn’t even really pay that much attention to the blurb. I love Noelle, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of her Lumberjanes series so I was worried I wasn’t going to love this as much as a lot of other people seemed to. It then exceeded every single one of my expectations.

My journey reading this graphic novel can be accurately portrayed by the following GIFs:


Am I being dramatic? No.

Nimona is a hero vs. villain story, but will take everything you expect to see from that trope and throw it out the window (along with your heart). It changes everything that you’d come to expect from a villain trying to get one up on the hero that seemingly manages to evade him every time. You will feel conflicted when reading this because you start to realise that maybe the villain isn’t actually that much of a villain after all.

Ballister Blackheart has never forgiven his old friend Ambrosius Goldenloin for sabotaging his win in a duel that cost him losing his arm. They were both training to be heroes, but Ballister decides to turn his back on his old life and get revenge on the people who wronged him. He  decides that the life of a villain is much more appealing.

The concept of the story without Nimona is already incredible, but having her character there brings everything together in the most magical way. Nimona is a shapeshifter, but that is not what defines her. She is an enigma, almost. She’s mysterious, unreliable, conflicted, complex – everything you could ever want and more. You will spend the entire story wondering just exactly what she’s doing and why she’s here and whose side she’s on, but you will fall in love with her and the almost father/daughter-like relationship she has with Ballister.

The other great thing about Nimona is that she is entirely her own character. She is not a plot device or romantic subplot. She isn’t just a background to further develop Ballister and Ambrosius. I’m so happy with how Noelle wrote her.

Nimona and Ballister team up to try and conduct a fool proof plan to take over the Kingdom. Nimona is obsessed with the idea and with her in Ballister’s court things are finally going his way. Complications still arise though because isn’t that always the way?

Image via

The friendship between Nimona and Ballister is one of the most amazing parts of this graphic novel. It is so moving. It has the perfect balance of warmth and conflict. It’s so incredibly genuine. The relationship between Ballister and Ambrosius is amazing too. I was so caught up in their past and current feelings towards each other. I loved seeing flashbacks of their old lives together. As you continue this story and all the puzzle pieces start falling into place you will feel so rewarded.

The adventure all these characters embark on is so exciting. The pacing is fast, but not too fast. It feels so real. It’s like you’re right there with Ballister and Nimona going on this quest to overthrow a Kingdom that turns into so, so much more. It’s a journey of friendship, loss and discovering yourself.

I love when stories – especially graphic novels and comics – are able to find a perfect balance between action and emotion. There is so much happening in Nimona that you will never lose interest, but the characters are still so well developed and so incredibly human. They remain the focus. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a plot, but I love when characters are well developed and Noelle did it amazingly.

Nimona will make you laugh and cry with Nimoa’s wicked sense of humour and wit and all the heartwarming and heartbreaking moments woven in between. The ending will have you aching for more. I still have a slight hangover from this graphic novel. I looked up some fanart after I finished and started crying again. This has gorgeous art, stunning writing and is the absolute most perfect place to start if you’ve never read a graphic novel before. I can’t stop thinking about it. I need more. I never wanted this incredible journey to end. There’s magic and dragons, a subtle hint of romance and a cat. So you know, what more could you ask for? I honestly can’t find one thing about Nimona that I didn’t like – except for the fact that it ended. I recommend this to absolutely everyone.

MY RATING: ★★★★★

P.S. If you want some more information on comics and graphic novels feel check out my post: So… You Want to Start Reading Comics and Graphic Novels? 

39 thoughts on “Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

  1. How do you even have any tears left, you cry literally all the time hahahaha. 😀
    But seriously, this sounds great. I can’t even imagine crying because of a graphic novel. I hope it has that effect on me when I pick it up (someday that will happen), because I rarely ever cry when reading and I love when it happens. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly don’t even know. One day I’m going to end up dehydrated from crying too much. It’s kinda crazy to think that a graphic novel had such an emotional affect, but it just had me so invested! You might not cry haha, but I hope it has some kind of emotional pull on when you read it! And that you enjoy it, obviously, haha.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Fadwa ♥

      Aw. I can definitely understand the intimidation, but really it’s not that bad, I promise. If I can get through it anyone can 😉 Haha!! Noelle has the first three chapters available here on her website if you wanted to try it out? If you decide to read it I hope you enjoy it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVE this book. I was the same as you I had no knowledge of this comic, I wasn’t even aware of the web series or the artist before I picked up Nimoma, and this was actually the first graphic novel I’d even picked up! But I loved it. I think my reading journey must have been very similar to yours.
    I need to read more by Noelle Stevenson, and I need to read more Nimona!
    Great review 😀


  3. I read this when it was being published online and it was fantastic! It’s really funny, but also really emotional. And I love the art style. I definitely want to try to check out some more of Stevenson’s work.


    1. Ooh reading it as a webcomic would have been awesome! I loved it so much, I’m so glad I finally picked it up. Yes, same! I read the first issue of Lumberjanes forever ago and couldn’t get into it, but after reading this I’m definitely going to try again.


  4. Help, I just finished and I’m heartbroken that it ended. It was SO SO good, I can’t even.
    The diversity, the humor, the emotions. I’ll write a review for it that will probably be a mess because I can’t put into words how awesome it was, Aaaaah!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s