Monday, 24 August 2015

Nimona (Book 1) By Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeens)

Noelle Stevenson's exquisite eye for kick-ass comic heroines has never been sharper nor more funny than in this first collected edition of "Nimona". So who is this plucky gal with the dragon wings? We'll introduce you after the jump...
So who are the bad guys, and who are the REALLY BAD guys? What happens when a story sets out its stage with a seemingly straightforward introduction to a set of characters, then gives the whole thing a good solid shake until you're not sure that you're rooting for the right side, but are absolutely sure that the side you're rooting for are utterly brilliant.

That's sort of how we felt about Nimona. I'd promised Charlotte I'd pick up a copy of this after she read the excellent "Lumberjanes" (also co-created by Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters).

As I read through, I was absolutely convinced of one thing and not entirely convinced about another.

The thing I WAS convinced about was that Nimona is absolutely brilliant, introducing us to the titular heroine and a supporting cast who truly blur the line between good and evil. Nimona's erstwhile sidekick, the villainous Lord Ballister Blackheart really could use a helping hand, but surely a feisty little girl isn't going to help a dark lord of evil overthrow his oppressors?

Lord Blackheart's nemesis is the vainglorious Sir Amrbosius Goldenloin, a rising star at the Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics. For years, Lord Blackheart has lived in exile following his defeat by Sir Goldenloin but all that's about to change.

Back to that point about Nimona, she's not just your average ordinary everyday opinionated girl. Nimona has a hidden talent, she can change into almost anything else and after giving Lord Blackheart a serious fright (by changing into a shark!), it becomes clear that this pint-sized girl hero can kick ass with the best of them.

Brilliant way of introducing yourself, Nimona!
Here's a word of warning. Nimona is - for want of a better description - a complete psychopathic lunatic who rages into battle slaying any hapless individual who stands in her way. It's fair to say that Nimona is part of the HarperTeens range so I've probably earned my "bad parent" points for the year by letting Charlotte loose on this one.

BUT (and there is a "but" here) Nimona's character is far more complex than you might imagine, so I let Charlotte read it - because tucked into the story is a seriously granular and tightly written moral tale that brings us back to that original point about who the bad guys are. Noelle's written and illustrated a tightly constructed story arc that flips neatly on its head the more you discover about the history between Goldenloin and Blackheart, and also the more you discover about the nefarious dealings of the ILEH.

Who are you calling villains, you pantywaist! Go blow dry your hair!
Age-appropriate warnings aside (and I urge you to vet this one if you're at all concerned your children might not like seeing comic characters dicing up a bunch of enemy soldiers or breathing fiery dragon breath all over them) you're in for a heck of a ride as the story begins to unfold. Nimona is an awesome character, and we were both equally gripped by how good this comic is. So if you're busily hunting out other stories by Noelle (and you should be, that girl is destined for megastardom, mark our words) do not miss "Nimona" - she's every bit as fantastic as she sounds.

Charlotte's favourite bit: Amusing to find that she laughs at the same bits I do, Nimona REALLY likes to mess with Lord Blackheart's head!

Daddy's favourite bit: Tightly written, awesomely illustrated, uber-violent in places (but no worse than letting your kids watch Marvel Superhero stuff that's rated way above their age - which I know a lot of you do, tsk tsk). This is absolutely stunning stuff and hopefully far from the last we'll see of Nimona.


Written and Illustrated by Noelle Stevenson

Published by HarperTeens

Release Date: 18th June 2015