At first I was hesitant, it was a young adult graphic novel. I usually don’t pick up YA because they sound too profound or philosophical for me. What drew me in though was its cover, the cute little girl with red hair, and the two knights jockeying to catch my attention. Plus, it was on a top 10 best graphic novels of 2015 and it’s already 2016, so I am late to the party and those were pretty good reasons enough to pick up Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona.
When I think of YA novels, I think of the saturated market of Hunger Games, Divergent, and John Greene novels that have stopped me from really enjoying the genre. It’s always a dystopian future or teens having the grandest and most profound, albeit unrealistic, moments of their lives. The characters look, sound, and feel so perfect and wise beyond their years that I don’t think they are young adults anymore.
Nimona feels and sounds different. The first difference was in the setting, at first glance it looks like a medieval story, filled with castles, dragons, knights, and princesses. Now imagine all of that but with the addition of sorcery, magic, science, and high tech gadgets all around. This of course is just the setting, once you add Nimona, a shapeshifter who wants only to be the best sidekick to the world’s best villain, Sir Blackheart, and everything begins looking topsy-turvy.
Instead of following the usual good-vs-evil storyline, it’s the other way around, and as the story progresses everything starts looking a bit screwy. The supposedly bad become the good, the bad become even badder, and the good become…something else. And all of this isn’t necessarily bad, it’s a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale and saturated market of love and dystopian futures.
Now if you didn’t catch the political, moral, and societal subtexts within the story then that’s fine. Enjoy the colors, enjoy the drawings, enjoy the dialogue since at the heart of this graphic novel isn’t about trying to sound deep, profound, or wise beyond your years, it’s really about telling a story that mirrors the realities of the world in a digestible and cute form.