Hardcover, 266 pages
Published May 12th 2015 by HarperTeen
Source: Purchased a copy.
For about as long as I have known Yash (three or so years now?) she has been raving about Nimona and got Janet over to the dark side while I resisted. Okay, I say I resisted but not really. I was just waiting for the comic to be released in book form before I got myself a copy. And I got myself a copy but it lingered on my shelves (not gathering dust because I dust my shelves with a fastidiousness that surprises no one). Then Book Club month happened and Nimona was one of the two titles Janet suggested to me that I hadn’t already read and since I already had the book…here we are. (If you are curious about the other title, it was Singing the Dogstar Blues by Alison Goodman.)
Janet has already written a wonderfully eloquent review on the comic but since I read it in book form, my experience of it was a bit different as I did not have the benefit of–well, okay, I can’t say that because I read the comic after already talking about it in depth (or listening to Janet and Yash talk about it in some depth).
If you are not familiar with Nimona, here are the three characters most important to the story:
Goldenloin (snerk) is the hero, Blackheart is the villain, and Nimona is Blackheart’s overly enthusiastic sidekick. Presented in a remarkably lighthearted manner, the comic nevertheless tackles important themes such as choice, nature vs. nurture, and the nature of evil. I loved that no one in the book is as they are presented and because of this ambiguity, they cannot be shoved under a category and neatly labeled. People don’t work that way and life certainly doesn’t work that way.
Take Blackheart for example. The society he lives in has decided that he is going to be a villain no matter how he feels about the designation. Unable to fight the people in power, he halfheartedly does dastardly deeds–though in actuality, all his actions are motivated by a desire to move away from the label and fight against the powers who are so invested in keeping him in his villain spot. Then there’s Goldenloin who, suspicious name aside, has far more shades of grey and decidedly warmer feelings towards his nemesis than would be thought proper in the exalted heroic circles he moves in. Whether he has done anything to deserve the hero title or has the qualities that cast him as hero is up for debate. Into this mix comes Nimona who doesn’t understand why her evil boss is…well…eviller. She has shapeshifting powers that she can make use of toward their shared goal of spreading evil everywhere.
Nimona doesn’t understand her boss’s reluctance to embrace his villainy and the comic features frequent disagreements they have over the little matter of killing one or two or a dozen people against them. As Janet said, Nimona’s relationship with Blackheart is very much like one of a teenager with her father. There are moments when Blackheart’s inability to comprehend Nimona is echoed by Nimona’s inability to understand Blackheart illustrating the differences in them far more eloquently than anything else would. They bicker, they grumble and sulk, and then they make up and watch movies together. Their relationship is by far one of the strongest elements of the narrative in my opinion.
There’s obviously more to the story than I’m saying because to say anything more would be to take away the pleasure you will get when you read this. I must thank Janet for giving me a reason to finally pick up this book and find out for myself what has enthralled her and Yash about it for so long. I enjoyed Nimona immensely and could probably talk about it in a lot more detail than I will. But if you’ve been waffling about this title, do yourself a favour and pick it up. You won’t regret it.