cover image Nimona


Noelle Stevenson. HarperTeen, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-227823-4

In Stevenson’s funny, smart, and provocative graphic novel (which originated as a webcomic), a gentlemanly clash between rivals is disrupted when an energetic shapeshifter raises the stakes with her predilection for violence. Set in a medieval-meets-modern fantasy kingdom, the story begins when Nimona offers her services to Lord Ballister Blackheart, banished evil genius and friend-turned-nemesis of Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, champion of the powerful Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. Through Nimona’s influence, Ballister’s tepid schemes graduate into deadly and destructive plots, forcing the Institution to respond with drastic measures that reveal its own nefarious leanings. Initially poking fun at hero and villain stereotypes (“You can’t just go around murdering people. There are rules, Nimona,” Ballister tells the pierced, pink-haired shapeshifter after she suggests a bloody public execution of the king), Stevenson’s tale presents a nuanced view of morality while offering thoughtful comment on friendship and individuality. Sharp visuals, a nifty amalgam of fantasy and science fiction elements, and relationships drawn with complexity, wit, and depth create a world worth returning to again and again. Ages 13–up. Agent: Charlie Olsen, Inkwell Management. (May)