Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Allow me to dispel any notions that the dragons within are why I’m insisting this is one of my Absolute Favorites ever. Plenty of other reasons make Nimona an irresistible delight: allow me to count at least the top-10 ways …
1. Nimona is so amazingly awesome, she gets herself hired in a mere two pages as the sidekick to Ballister Blackheart, “the biggest name in supervillainy!” She savvily promises her kid-ness will help him “appeal to today’s youth.” Marketing prodigy, yes!
2. Nimona is a superb shapeshifter who can go from teenager to dragon to shark in no seconds flat. Even her new Boss admits, “I suppose I can see how that would be useful.”
3. She’s more than ready to “make some evil plans,” although she needs to be reminded (often) that she “can’t just go around murdering people.”
4. She’s got a mysterious past (although sometimes she can’t quite remember what version of her “sob story” she’s been telling).
5. She’s loyal, even under threat of being fired.
6. She’s allergic to bananas, prone to hives, but she’s “nobody’s lab rat. Got it, buster?”
7. She loves zombie movies (with popcorn).
8. She dyes her hair purple halfway through the book.
9. Without even meaning to, she brings out the best goodness in the baddest of supervillains.
10. She proves magic exists, even for those who thought only science could explain all.
Being Blackheart’s backup is certainly no easy task, especially when public perception about who’s truly evil is messed up. Nimona also needs to help Blackheart face his former-best-buddy-turned-nemesis, Ambrosius Goldenloin – true friends don’t chop off appendages out of spoil-sport revenge, ahem! – who’s now a puppet for the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. Blackheart must save the ordinary citizens from the Institution’s manipulative machinations … and teach his excitable assistant about minimizing the body count, as well.
Noelle Stevenson has created an irreverently rollicking, superbly entertaining, graphic novel for all. Clever banter mixed with poignant revelations about trust, friendship, hope, and more, give Nimona unexpected, resonating depth. The never-static art with non-uniform lettering feels invitingly conspiratorial. Everything here is just plain fun: for the eyes, mind, and heart, Nimona proves to be quite the real deal.
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult