Genre: graphic novel, memoir
Published: March 3, 2020 by: HarperTeen
Rating: 5/5 stars
CW: gender dysphoria, anxiety, depression
Told in a graphic novel format with Stevenson's signature illustrations, The Fire Never Goes Out tells the story of ND Stevenson's life, from entering college and beginning to write, to his success now being a bestselling author and tv writer. Along the way, Stevenson encounters the struggles with coming out as genderqueer, but ultimately, the novel is an uplifting story from a well-beloved illustrator and writer.
I love Nate Stevenson's work! For those who don't know, Stevenson has been around the writer-sphere for a while using a deadname, and he just shared that his name is Nate during pride month! So, while copies of his books may not be updated yet, he does go by Nate or ND Stevenson. I read Nimona by Stevenson for a comics class last year, and I thought it was a super well-written story about a villainous chaotic shapeshifter. The illustrations were unique and top-notch. So, I knew I wanted to give Stevenson's memoir a try. Plus, a memoir told in graphic novel format seems even cooler! I can say that this book retains Stevenson's charming illustrations and compelling storytelling abilities.
While not everything in Stevenson's life may have been all sunshine and rainbows, I do admire him for retaining an uplifting storyline while also still being able to get serious at moments. Stevenson's illustration style is incredibly whimsical, so it's hard to remember that some moments of his life were not perfect, but Stevenson perfectly weaves together his drawing style with whatever specific tone he's going for in the story he's telling. But, the book never feels overbearing or difficult to get through. While a lot of memoirs can get dark, I ultimately found this to be a fascinating look at an author's life whom I really admire, which left me motivated for whatever new work he puts out in the future.
I especially appreciated how Stevenson provides a behind the scenes look at how some of his works were written, such as Nimona, but also his tv show She-Ra. I've never seen She-Ra before, but hearing about how Stevenson conceived of the tv show and learning about his passion behind the show motivated me to want to watch it even more! I love how Stevenson committed to making sure that the show had important representation.
Stevenson is genderqueer, but like I said, he only recently provided a name and pronoun update this past June. While this book, which was published in 2020, isn't updated to where Stevenson currently is in terms of his gender identity, I could definitely see how Stevenson was beginning to work through complicated ideas surrounding gender and sexuality within his young adult life. I definitely think it is disheartening as a published writer to have people constantly misgender you or continuously use your deadname, but I applaud him for staying true to himself and for working with what makes him the most comfortable.
Overall, I will continue to consume any of Stevenson's works that I can! I just love how he writes, draws, and presents himself in the writing world. I would encourage all of you to read from this wonderful talent!
Have you read The Fire Never Goes Out? What did you think?
Emily @ Paperback Princess