Review of Nimona

by Noelle Stevenson; illus. by the author
Middle School, High School   HarperTeen   266 pp.
5/15   978-0-06-227823-4   $17.99
Paper ed. 978-0-06-227822-7   $12.99

Ballister Blackheart — ex-knight and current 
supervillain — is focused on the destruction of the Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics. He also wouldn’t mind getting even with Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, a knight-school acquaintance who shot off Blackheart’s right arm. Just as Blackheart’s plans are coming to fruition, plucky young shapeshifter Nimona shows up on his doorstep claiming to be his new sidekick (“the Agency sent me”). As effective an accomplice as Nimona turns out to be, Blackheart, who finds killing “vulgar,” must rein in her powers due to her blasé attitude about human life and her great love for all things explosive. Stevenson’s setting — a medieval-type kingdom mixed with futuristic science…and zombie movies on TV — entertainingly tweaks both the science-fiction and fantasy genres, while her unpolished artistic style creates a dangerous mood with a hint of adventure. (The series started as a webcomic, and some of the graphic novel panels can be cramped and a little hard to read.) The character of Nimona, illustrated as a punked-out female, is quick to anger, carelessly violent, and uninterested in the morals of revolution; she’s beautifully flawed and refreshingly unstereotypical in a book that is both darkly witty and surprisingly touching. And Nimona is a protagonist to both love and fear.

From the May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Siân Gaetano
Siân Gaetano
Siân Gaetano is assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc. Follow her on Twitter @KidLitChick.

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