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“Book” Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Finally, another book review! I decided to have a change and write about a comic/graphic novel, since I have been reading a LOT of these recently.

Nimona-350x524

Before I get into the main review, I should say that I’m a huge comic fan. Web comics, paper comics, Image, Marvel (a tiny amount of DC). I’ve become almost as addicted to them as normal books. Which is impressive, as I haven’t been into them for nearly as long. I have noticed that there are few women involved in the comic world so when I found something that sounded right up my street in terms of genre and humour, the fact that it was written and illustrated by a woman gave it an extra boost for me.

Apologies. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Nimona is a standalone (for now) book based on the web comic Noelle Stevenson made of the same name. It’s rare I find many standalone comics that really grab me as they usually need to be a series to build up the character background to pull me in. This isn’t the case with this book, and the characters have stayed with me long after finishing.

To sum up the story quickly, without giving the plot away: Nimona is about a young woman of that name who declares herself side-kick to an evil villain Lord Ballister Blackheart. She wasn’t exactly what he had in mind for a side-kick but considering she can shapeshift, he decides to give her a chance. I mean…who wouldn’t? Their mission: to cause havoc and show the secrets of Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and the Institution he works for.

Nimona is completely (perhaps overly?) enthused about his vendetta, and is always trying to push his schemes further than he actually ever planned. Both characters have interesting pasts that have led them to where they are, and neither of them expects what they find out about the other.

The story is compelling, funny, gripping and incredibly silly but has the ability to pull hard at your heartstrings when you least expect it. I’m reluctant to say too much more about the plot itself as a lot of the magic of the story is in the surprises. But the things I particularly enjoyed are:

  • Nimona herself. She’s loveable, unpredictable, unnerving, all at the same time.
  • The combination of magic and sci-fi makes for an interesting story as it can combine devices and tropes from both genres, whilst adding some new ideas to them too.
  • The morality of the characters. It’s fairly common now to have characters that are various shades of grey (forgive the phrase, I’m in no way endorsing that book) and this is something that Noelle manages here. The question of who is evil, what is evil, who is good and how do you tell the difference is explored in the characters of the story.
  • The art of the comic. The art style is typical of Noelle if you are familiar with the Lumberjanes (which if you aren’t familiar with, go! Seek it out! You won’t be disappointed). It’s almost sketch-like in style, but it is clear and distinctive.

I have to include part of the blurb on the back of the book, as I don’t think I can describe it any better (which is terrible for a writer to admit):

“Nemeses!
Dragons!
Science!
Symbolism!”

Hopefully, I’ve given you enough detail to convince you to read this fabulous graphic novel, you absolutely won’t regret it. If you read it and are desperate for more, as mentioned above, read her Lumberjanes series, and I can also recommend a series by Kurtis J. Wiebe called Rat Queens. I am attempting to work on a similar review for that but as you might have noticed, I’m somewhat erratic with my posts, so go read it now if you like humour, battles, women being kick-ass, and mercenaries.

Next post is going to be another ‘serious’ one, so I hope this has made a nice change of pace.

Write soon 🙂

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Science and Stereotypes

http://occamstypewriter.org/athenedonald/2013/02/10/lets-get-stereotypes-out-of-science-education/

I strongly advise you all to read this small but perfectly formed blog post on the topic of gender stereotypes in sciences. An article was published in the Guardian online (there’s a link to it in the post above) that was just awful; claimed that it was trying to come up with methods about getting more girls into physics and engineering by giving them science in the form of recipes, jigsaws and saying that “well, maths is supposed to be hard”.

Yes, really.

The Guardian piece also failed to address the lack of boys in biology, psychology, veterinary and general medical sciences, which is efinitely something to be looked into. The fact that the two former subjects are seen as ‘softer’ sciences won’t help, similarly to the myth that veterinary science is all about cute and cuddly animals (which obviously boys can’t like *sarcasm*).

The seems to be a rising trend in the belief that men and women just are fundamentally different (which I have little problem saying as even some medicines has differing levels of efficacy in each sex)- Scientific American Mind did an excellent issue last year on the similarities and differences between the male and female brain and mind.
However, what I hate is that these thoughts are being twisted into the idea that “girls brains just aren’t suited to maths/physics/engineering” (and according to this link http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/whats-the-biggest-problem-with-women-artists-none-of-them-can-actually-paint-says-georg-baselitz-8484019.html us girls can’t paint/draw/compose music/come up with original ideas/write incredible literature, so maybe we should just give up now. Really people!?!?)

I’d like to think most people would acknowledge that male and female brains are capable of the same potential but from the toys we are given to play with and up through to the education system, these things guide our minds to be better at learning in different ways.
There’s also the obvious social expectations (girls are more empathetic so they just ‘make better’ teachers/nurses etc and these careers are seen as care giving roles which aren’t masculine. Which is rubbish. There are many other careers/roles where this happens again and again, but that would take a long time to list so I will leave it there).

I also don’t want this to veer into the realm of becoming a post about sexism in the past and present world as that is a subject unto itself, but they obviously play a significant part.

So please, before spouting putrid and frankly, out of date ideas, have a thought about how damaging generalisations really are and how our children should have the chance to follow whatever career path they want, regardless of their sex/gender.

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