The dedication in Noelle Stevenson’s NIMONA is “to all the monster girls.” It’s an intriguing dedication and one that makes more sense as you read the story of Nimona, a shapeshifter girl who can transform into a monster, or maybe a monster who can transform into a girl.
Nimona decides she will be the sidekick to supervillain Ballister Blackheart, enemy of The Institute of Law Enforcement. He claims to not need a sidekick, but there’s no dissuading Nimona. She giddily suggests ramping up the drama to his villainous plan—more chaos! more fire! more death!—and wants to kill his rival, Ambrosius Goldenloin. Blackheart and Goldenloin have a long and extremely complicated past with each other. Nimona is impulsive and believes in making big statements. She’s excited to attack people from the Institute and isn’t bothered by killing anyone. “Killing solves nothing, Nimona. It’s vulgar and messy,” the not-so-entirely-villainous Blackheart tells her. After they discover the Institution has been stockpiling a poisonous plant, their focus on fighting and exposing the Institution tightens.
Nimona and Blackheart are a dangerous duo. They can crack codes, escape from almost anywhere, masquerade as anyone or anything else, and together can cause far more havoc than they could alone. But taking down the Institution isn’t the most difficult task—the eventual choices they have to make regarding the relationships between Nimona, Blackheart, and Goldenloin are the real battles. At its heart, this is a story of identity, rescue, and the many roles we all can play. The story is deep, funny, witty, sad, and complicated. All of the characters are fantastically original and have their own unique quirks, but it’s the endearing and gutsy Nimona who stands out as an amazingly powerful, complicated, and strong but needy heroine. Whether she’s a dragon, a cat, or a punk girl with a vibrantly-colored Chelsea haircut and rows of earrings, she leaps off the page and demands to be reckoned with. An utterly fantastic read. Pair with Kristin Cashore’s FIRE for another interesting look at girls and monsters.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 5/12/2015
Already read NIMONA and need to find something to read next? Check out my post on diverse graphic novels.