Graphic Novel [+ Audiobook] Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

 
 
When shapeshifter Nimona shows up at the lab of the land's villain, Ballister Blackheart, asking to be his sidekick, the two form a unique friendship. But upon finding out the Institution is actually up to something that could harm the kingdom, they set out to prove it everyone, which leads to a lot more danger and trouble than Blackheart thought it would.

Graphic Novel Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson | reading, books, book review, fantasy, lgbt+
Title: Nimona
Publisher:
Pages: 272
My Rating:
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher
 

Review:

Since I both listened to the audiobook for this and read the graphic novel, I figured I would review both in one go!

Audiobook Review:

I listened to the audio before reading the graphic novel version. It was one of my first audiobooks, and my very first graphic novel audiobook.

This particular one had a full cast doing the characters’ voices, sound effects (explosions, wings flapping, coins clinking, fighting, etc.), and the occasional narration. I thought it did a great job of balancing just enough narration to explain things that needed explaining without bogging the story down and spoon-feeding the reader, and I wonder if there might’ve been some dialogue added at times to further clarify things. I’ll admit there were a few scenes where I had some difficulty figuring things out, and when I read the print version, I did notice some details and things I hadn’t realized when just listening, but I was usually able to figure out and picture what was going on well enough.

As far as the audio itself goes, I’d give that aspect an A+.

Graphic Novel Review:

The artwork wasn’t quite to my taste, but that’s just a personal thing. It was very cartoon-y and sketchy, and everyone had such tiny hands. I did like though that Nimona didn’t have the stereotypical “perfect” thin hourglass figure that women in comics usually have. And it was nice to be able to see the facial expressions of the characters since I missed that in the audiobook.

As for the story itself, it wasn’t what I expected, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It was more Blackheart’s story than Nimona’s. Also, I thought it would just be silly and funny, and it did have its funny moments, but it was more serious and bittersweet.

Now the characters… to be honest, I found Nimona annoying, but Blackheart had a surprisingly kind heart. I liked him. And although Goldenloin was a silly stereotype and Blackheart’s enemy at the beginning, he grew on me as I started to see more of him.

I also liked the friendship between Nimona and Blackheart. It was sweet how protective of her he was, and their silly squabbles about zombie movies and board games was cute. I also loved how Nimona was always climbing all over everything, including Blackheart (e.g. hanging over his shoulder while reading the top secret stuff); it made their relationship even cuter.

*VERY MILD SPOILER* It was the relationship between Blackheart and Goldenloin that gave me the most feels though. I always love those relationships between characters who used to be lovers or best friends (in this case it was lovers) but are now enemies, except they still can’t help but care about each other. I don’t know if it was because I knew more the second time around or because I could actually see the facial expressions, body language, and physical interactions that I missed with the audio, but I felt more of the feelings still between them when I read the actual graphic novel. *END SPOILER*

The reason I didn’t rate this higher is because nothing really WOWed me about the book. Also, I felt like Nimona’s past (I still don’t understand that) and the relationship between Blackheart and Goldenloin both could’ve been explored more.

Overall though, this was a cute and somewhat touching graphic novel that I enjoyed listening to and reading.

 
 
Book Blurb

The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic.”

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

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  1. Olivia Roach

    I am quite new to audiobooks so I haven’t tried listening to a graphic novel before, but I don’t think I would? I like that there is a cast reading it out and I like that because I think all the different voices works – especially as you don’t want to have speech tags all the time as you don’t get those in graphic novels. I’ve also been reading more graphic novels this month, inspired by your game play reviews. I am trying to ease my way into reading a game play novel and I think starting with graphic novels is a good place for me.

    Nimona sounds okay, but not like one I am going to be running to read soon.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I don’t even know if there are many graphic novel audiobooks out there. The visual is a huge part of a GN, so I can understand preferring to actually read it. I do too. But I was really intrigued by the idea of an audiobook for one. Oh, I didn’t know you were working your way up to visual novels (the game ones)! Although graphic novels and visual novels are still quite different. I’ll be interested to know how both work out for you.

  2. Sam@wlabb

    I have not listened to anything but contemporaries on audio, but have heard of other SFF books that do all the bells and whistles, which I think is awesome. Sorry the book didn’t wow you, but at least you enjoyed your first foray into audiobooks.

    1. Kristen Burns

      This is the only one I’ve read with sound effects and everything, but it was cool! I really think more audiobooks should have multiple narrators though.

  3. Erica Robyn

    Great review!! I’ve been meaning to reread this one! :) I remember LOVING the humor, but I wonder if it will have the same affect now that I’m a bit older.

  4. Greg

    Ooh Nimona- I’ve heard good things about this. I think I’d agree w/ you on the art though- I read a few volumes of her Lumberjanes and felt the same way. The art did NOT work for me, at all. The story was fine though. I love that there were sound effects though- how cool! If I listened to more audio I think I’d enjoy that aspect.

    It does sound cute. Lumberjanes kinda struck me the same way- I liked it okay but it wasn’t amazing, you know? I didn’t feel like I HAD to keep reading. Glad it was mostly good though!

    I do like lovers to enemies and wish we’d see it a bit more actually.

    1. Kristen Burns

      A lot of people love it! But yeah, I’m fairly picky about art. And it does sound like you felt the same way about Lumberjanes as I did about this one. At least they were enjoyable for us!

      We really need more lovers/friends to enemies stories!

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  6. Sarah J.

    I haven’t read this one! It’s a pretty famous one, but I just haven’t really had much interest in this one. I love the concept of listening to it as an audiobook though! I bet that was an interesting experience especially since it has full cast and sound effects. Great review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      It is a pretty famous one, but I get you. No reason to force yourself to read something you’re not interested in! It was definitely an interesting experience, kinda like listening to a movie!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Well, there’s this one lol. Idk if there are others. But there should be! It’s especially great for accessibility, and I imagine it would be a cool experience to listen while reading along.

  7. Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra

    The story itself sounds pretty interesting and your high marks for the audio version piques my interest since I’m just finally starting to develop an appreciation for audiobooks. Sorry to hear it didn’t wow you overall though.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It’s definitely not a bad story. The audio really was great! But it’s also nice to be able to see the pictures in a comic. I wonder what it’d be like to read and listen simultaneously…

  8. ShootingStarsMag

    That’s great the audio was done so well, especially with it being a graphic novel. I do want to read this one – sorry it wasn’t QUITE what you expected.

    -Lauren

  9. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    They do audiobooks for graphic novels? That is both totally awesome but also strange because I’m just wondering how they actually do the audio, do they describe the scene for each panel as well? I actually followed the artist on Tumblr before I even realised they were the same person doing that so for me the artwork worked but that’s always a personal preference. I get not being wowed by it, I really enjoyed it but it was not what I expected when I first heard of it. It was different from a lot of graphic novels and comics that I’ve read before though and that’s what made it stand out for me, I think.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Everyone keeps asking that lol. Idk, but they did for this one! Sometimes there was narration, where necessary. But sometimes you could tell what was happening just from the dialogue and sound effects. Kind of like listening to a movie. I’m glad the art worked better for you!

  10. Lola

    That sounds interesting how they made an audiobook of a graphic novel. I’ve seen this book around a few times, but haven’t read it myself. I am still new to audiobooks, but the full cast thing sounds interesting. I might have to see if the site I sue for audiobooks has this one. It does seem the graphic novel has some details you might miss or not notice with the audiobook.

    Artwork is such a personal thing, so I can see how the style isn’t for everyone. Does the artwork is int he same style as the cover? They have very tiny hands there too, now that you mention it. I also thought this one would be more funny and silly, that’s the vibe I got for it, not that i read many reviews for it tough. Good to know it’s more serious and bittersweet. It does sound like a cute and fun read, even tough it didn’t fully wow you.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It would be great if more audiobooks had full casts! Yeah, the artwork style is the same as the cover for this one. They do have tiny hands! I also thought it would be more funny and silly, glad it’s not just me who got that vibe. But yeah, I still enjoyed it!