Award list – Locus reading list 2015- Best YA Novel
illustrated by Noelle Stevenson
A young woman knocks on the door of an eminent “Super Villain”, demanding to become his apprentice. Reluctantly, he accepts. The collision of these two characters causes both of their worlds to explode. Nimona must learn to understand the complexity of the world and her position in that world. She must come to terms with the ambiguous character of her boss, both villain and hero. Nimona, and the reader must learn to accept the love/hate, dare I say ‘homoerotic,’ relationship between the hero and the villain, as well as the conflagration of their two roles. She must come to an understanding of the arbitrary nature of both their situations.
I can see why many people love this work. It works as a brilliant satire/subversion of the superhero, fantasy, genre. It dissects many of its tropes. Nimona is an interesting, strong, mischievous, nuanced female character who subverts the role of the young chosen protagonist. The sort of character that should be at the heart of many more books. The relationship between her Boss and his rival, with all its quiet ‘queerness’ is interesting. In addition, the blurring of their roles subverts the hero and villain stereotypes that exist in literature. The art is glorious, at times mirroring, and referencing, classic work such as The Bayeux Tapestry. But, there seems to be a barrier between me and the work. I can’t emotionally connect with Nimona. It seems to be too clean and clinical. The art is too clean and mainstream. The subversions too transparent. But, that might be due to the fact that it is a children’s book. However, I am glad that it is getting attention. I would recommend this work to anybody who loves LumberJanes or any of the BOOM studio’s output. I would also recommend it for any young teenage girl in your life.