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The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures

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From N.D. Stevenson, the New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of Nimona, comes a captivating, honest illustrated memoir that finds his turning an important corner in his creative journey—and inviting readers along for the ride.

In a collection of essays and personal mini-comics that span eight years of his young adult life, author-illustrator N.D. Stevenson charts the highs and lows of being a creative human in the world. Whether it’s hearing the wrong name called at his art school graduation ceremony or becoming a National Book Award finalist for his debut graphic novel, Nimona, N.D. captures the little and big moments that make up a real life, with a wit, wisdom, and vulnerability that are all his own.

198 pages, Hardcover

First published March 3, 2020

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About the author

N.D. Stevenson

75 books4,566 followers
ND Stevenson is the award-winning, bestselling author and illustrator of Nimona and The Fire Never Goes Out, the co-creator of Lumberjanes, and was the showrunner for the award-winning Netflix series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

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5 stars
2,700 (36%)
4 stars
2,729 (37%)
3 stars
1,523 (20%)
2 stars
351 (4%)
1 star
54 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,198 reviews
Profile Image for Madeline O'Rourke.
845 reviews101 followers
March 15, 2020
It's no fun giving memoirs low ratings, and I want to stress that my rating isn't at all concerned with Stevenson's actual life and what was presented in The Fire Never Goes Out.

I think this memoir —compilation, really— would be very valuable to Stevenson herself. It compiles doodles and year-end reflections from 2009 through 2019. I'd hazard that it's interesting and emotional for Stevenson to look back on.

For me, as the reader, it was fine. It was a quick read, maybe a little boring. The Fire Never Goes Out presents like it's telling you something deep in the way of Stevenson's emotions. But really, it's all quite surface level and because the year-end reflections aren't coupled with reflection from now, the reader really isn't getting as much out of the content as it seems. The doodles are fun, though!

By no means my favourite memoir, but I suppose it is quite a hopeful read.
Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,309 followers
April 20, 2020

Gorgeous collection. My only issue with this was that, since I've been following Noelle for years and years online, I have seen most of this work before. But it was wonderful to see the breadth of her work and see the shifts in her style that have happened over the last decade or so. I also loved being able to revisit some of her early work!! The classic Noelle stuff was so nostalgic and lovely.
Profile Image for daph pink ♡ .
930 reviews2,565 followers
August 7, 2021
Heartwarming beautiful memoir by a star illustrated

"Take a breath as well as you can and prepare for the careful climb down. You have a long life still to live and many more mountains to climb."

A collection of Tumblr doodles and personal reflections in chronological order over the span of more than 5 years. It's a personal and powerful book with main focus on internal struggles, love and acceptance. Some parts are relatable and both emotional . It's like "I felt seen".

It is such a raw and sincere depiction the triumphs and tribulations that come with growing up.

I really liked the doodle style and I think the thoughts about mental illness, imposter syndrome and burnout are deeply explored.

I have already said she is a master artist. Her drawings are both simplistic and poignantly beautiful and they elevate the stories interlaced between them.

Highly recommended.

Warning :- tears can be shed🥲
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
December 19, 2020
A memoir by the author of Nimona, which I liked quite a bit. I guess I also have maybe read some of her work on Lumberjanes, but I knew and still know nothng of her web impact, which was/is all over the place, beginning with fanfiction comics about Lord of the Rings. She loves superheroes and D & D. And family, though coming out eventually as gay, she had to leave the church, as she didn't feel welcome there. I am not sure exactly why I so readily rated this four stars, as it is not really much of a memoir. It alludes to things happening she doesn't describe and to feelings she doesn't quite name.

The book spans eight years of her life that speak to rocketing fame and recognition--everyone that has seen her once knows her terrific, smiling face forever—and struggle, which includes mental health struggles, identity struggles. Much of it comes from a blog she kept over the years.

What is clear? Well, she realized she was a lesbian, over time, fell in love with a woman and over all that time tried hard to figure out what she, as a lesbian, should look like: Short hair, long hair, what to wear, and so on. Who am I and what self do I project to myself and others? Coming of age issues that of course continue well into her/our twenties (she's 29 when this book comes out).

But this is a memoir that largely keeps its secrets, the story of a very gregarious but simultaneously private person who has lived a lot of her life in the public eye. So it can't really be seen as a memoir. Not really. But it gives enough of a story to keep us intrigued and like her, support her.

So I rated this 4 stars right off the bat, but am inclined on the writing to give it 2 or 3 stars cuz of all the still-kept secrets. Yet somehow the effervescent part of her personality still comes through the unnamed anguish, and the drawing is identifiably adorable Noelle Stevenson; maybe that's it, she's adorably intimate and inviting and private. 3.5 overall.? Maybe she'll write a true memoir at some point, and if she does, I'll read it.
Profile Image for Scott.
1,749 reviews123 followers
November 3, 2020
"To everyone harboring their own fire and to everyone lost in the dark. May you see the sun again." -- the author's opening dedication

A graphic novel-memoir that is both overly detailed (if you count all of the career achievements the author lists within - kudos to her, but it got a little tedious) and yet still seems superficial at times, The Fire Never Goes Out details the college and early employment years of 2011 through 2019 for acclaimed cartoonist Noelle Stevenson. It takes some fearlessness to put your mental health issues out there for all to read, but during an important moment late in the book she completely glosses over something with "I won't get into exactly what happened - maybe another time" (page 179). This was a little frustrating, as we're along for the ride with her now, but of course she can wield any and all discretion when recounting her deeply personal experiences. It would appear this book resonated with A LOT of readers on GR, but it generated only mild interest for me. However, the final included photograph from 2019 was absolutely charming, completely personifying happiness found at last.
Profile Image for Maia.
Author 27 books2,283 followers
December 17, 2022
I've been following N.D. Stevenson on tumblr since 2011, the fanart days, and I always looked forward to his year-end reviews. I think I had read over half of this book previously online! But I really enjoyed reading these comics again, in chronological order, and with new narration to give them more context. As a memoir it's fairly loose, but many of the pieces hit very vulnerable emotional notes.
Profile Image for sophia ⚹.
293 reviews27 followers
May 20, 2020
2.5 stars

i always feel terrible giving memoirs less than stellar reviews, because it’s the person’s life, and putting a rating on what they decide to be vulnerable about and put forward seems really weird and bad.

but … this book really fell flat for me, and i honestly think it was all in the presentation. i was expecting a much more in-depth story here on what stevenson has struggled with and her experiences over the years, and almost all of it felt kind of surface-level. there were a lot of pieces i found i could relate to, and yet they were immediately whisked away and i wasn’t able to understand further. the ending, while the most emotionally resonating part, still felt like it was holding something back from me, and i felt disconnected. (there was even a written line that said: “I won’t get into exactly what happened-maybe another time.” reading that made me feel really annoyed.)

i know as the reader i’m not owed any part of a person’s life or their vulnerability, but i also then don’t completely understand the purpose of this book. i’m familiar with stevenson’s work especially from tumblr and twitter some other random places, but have never been an avid follower. i was looking forward to this read in a lot of ways, primarily as a queer person myself who struggles with mental illness and also had a religious background, i thought it would be extremely relatable to me. but it seems like most of what is in here is just a collection of things from her blog from over the years, and i think unless i had been following her blog already and was just enjoying this wrap-up for what it is, the pieces given felt like only a glimpse, and i just had a very hard time connecting or understanding.

i also didn’t really like how cheating was portrayed (or rather, glossed over) in this. i understand why, in some ways, and i also understand and can empathize with the concept especially being a queer person falling for someone who’s in a relationship with someone else, but the fact that the entire section didn’t address once what actually was happening outside of the author’s emotional bubble made reading it really hard to understand, actually. it again felt like the narration was holding something vital back from me as i read.

overall i did enjoy some parts, can see and relate to a lot of stevenson’s experiences, and i consistently enjoyed her artwork, but the cohesion and connection to the narrative itself fell flat for me.

cw: self harm, disordered eating
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,093 reviews6,577 followers
September 20, 2020

representation: (all own voices) bipolar disorder, lesbian and non-binary rep, sapphic relationship.

[trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers]


this was... good? this is essentially a collection of art done by noelle throughout the last decade with end of year wrap ups that she posted on tumblr each year put after each section. i wouldn't really call this a memoir? it's more of a collection of drawings with some more personal than others, but i really wanted it to have more depth. i wanted to know more about her life and not just her achievements, if that makes sense.

trigger warnings: self-harm, mention of suicide, mentions of weight loss, panic attacks, depressive episodes, homophobia within religion, talk of body weight/body image struggles, nudity, mention of orlando pulse shooting, death of a grandparent, struggles with mental health.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,297 reviews2,290 followers
January 15, 2022
I was so much in love with the work of the author.

And now I am in love with this memoir in sequential art.

Before even starting with the proper content, I was bawling my eyes out reading the 'prologue' (or forward whatever that is) it is just sad but liberating to read something so relatable.

The author talks about her formative years and who she is as of now.

She talks about the rough times, times she had to leave behind some of the social norms and culture which she (surprise) did not miss; times she had when she had some of the most major changes in her life; times when she felt the most lonely and times when she felt the most successful and memorable.

This memoir brings up the issues of body image and discuss body positivity through her art journey, mental health and all the reality we live with everyday. A successful artist doesn't mean it's glamorous and sparkly and shiny and bubbly and always active at work. She describes how a day in her life usually goes by.

It's her art journey that fascinated me the most! And yass, the Nimona thing! How Nimona made her dream, come to a resolution and changed everything. (I still love BOOM! Studios productions. Thank you for existing. I am blessed with ARCs from them!).

The most realistic and relatable parts are where she talks and illustrates about her thoughts, fears and apprehension when she is alone.

The struggle is real when it comes to art and artists (let's get real. The struggle is real for everyone. But yes, the struggle to find one's own identity is the real one.)

And people think those who made it big in their line of work is easy.

I had a great time reading this memoir.

So relatable and gave me lots to learn from.

And once again: love is love is love.

Stop discriminating the LGBTQ+ community.

***The pictures and the art are so cute!!!

It's a happy ending so far 💪

"Every cell in my body has died and grown again."
Profile Image for Juan.
184 reviews16 followers
March 7, 2020
Unfortunately I thought this just took too long to get going. Roughly the first half of this book reads like just a list of accomplishments and events interspersed with tiny comics, all with no real introspection. And while it becomes clear in the second half why the first half is written that way and the second half does have some really good discussion of queerness and mental health, it still doesn't make the first half very engaging to read.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,662 reviews5,143 followers
March 3, 2022
I love Noelle Stevenson's work and enjoyed this immensely. If you have followed Stevenson's work and life, you'll probably already know a lot of the content in this memoir, but even so, I never found myself bored or skim-reading because the way she presents these memories is worth reading from her direct perspective, even if you already know about it. I really enjoyed the throwback to some of her old tumblr art being included (it was a major trip down memory lane for me), and the convenient way this book gives you a glance at how Noelle's art style has shifted and improved over the years.

My only complaint is that there are a couple of moments where she brings up a topic, briefly implies an inkling of what happened, and then moves on so fast to something else that I was not only left with questions, but also a bit of emotional whiplash. It made for a less smooth reading experience on my end, hence the 4 stars instead of 5.

If you like Noelle Stevenson and are interested in learning more about her life and the obstacles she has overcome to get to where she is, I definitely recommend this memoir!

Representation: Noelle is queer; depictions/references of Noelle and her wife's relationship

Content warnings for:

twitter | booktok | bookstagram | blog
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,302 reviews174 followers
July 1, 2020
A powerful introduction by the author sets high expectations for an amazing graphic memoir, but then the book quickly degenerates to sketchbook doodling and noodling. It wasn't until page 48 that I found out this was a collection of blog entries. (No, I don't read cover copy, reviews, or promotional material for books by authors I like and know I will read regardless.)

The diary-like quality gave some of the material a real sense of immediacy and power, but the year-in-review entries mostly felt like Christmas card family letter material.

The collection picked up toward the end with some almost poetic bits and pieces and allusions to mental health issues, but I was just left yearning for the true graphic memoir outlined in the intro.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,050 followers
June 30, 2020
If you love Nimona ("I'm a shark!") or Lumberjanes, this is a must-read, but it's also for people who love graphic memoir (graphic as in visual, not... graphic... you know what I mean.) It's about Noelle's creative and personal journey. (Apparently she's now the showrunner for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, a show I did not know existed.)

This is from HarperTeen but I feel the audience is broader.
Profile Image for Andy.
20 reviews1 follower
March 4, 2020
I don’t know if Noelle reads Goodread comments at all but if you do: thank you so much for this book. I have been following you and your work since 2011 — reading the early parts of this book really took me back to when I was in high school and nerding out over your lord of the rings posts. I’ve had the outsider’s perspective of your artistic and professional journey through social media and your comics and shows and it was something special to get to read some of what your life was like and and i was surprised but touched to see that I have shared so many of your struggles. Your art and writing have always reached me in a unique and powerful way. I have cried real tears over Nimona, Lumberjanes, She-Ra, your personal artwork, and now this. As a lesbian with severe mental illness that is also finally seeking help and looking toward the future with hope and love, thank you for writing this. Your words and art went straight to my heart and I hope that’s something you can be proud of.
Profile Image for Alfredo.
373 reviews505 followers
January 1, 2021
*pequeno gatilho para temas como homofobia internalizada e depressão
Profile Image for Elizabeth A.
1,823 reviews107 followers
January 18, 2021
2.5 stars.

This is an illustrated memoir that doesn't quite deliver what it promises. It's a collection of eight year-in-review blog posts, that explores her rise to fame, mental health issues, coming out, and falling in love. Plus, lots of random doodles and sketches.

You know those annual letters that some people mail each Christmas that summarizes the family news? This read like that, only illustrated. The author keeps you at a distance. She doesn't really let you in. And while I understand that, why then write a memoir? Fans of her work must have already read these comics/year in review posts on her blog, so was this a way to collect them in book format? I wanted more.

I'm happy for the author - her success, her projects, her love life, and I appreciate that this might be an important read for young people, so for that I'll round up.
Profile Image for Laura AP.
677 reviews
May 31, 2020
this book both called me out on my bullshit and offered me a nice and comprehending hug
Profile Image for Rosamund Taylor.
Author 1 book124 followers
December 26, 2020
An author can keep their private life separate from their work, or they can write an interesting memoir. They cannot do both. But Stevenson has tried: The Fire Never Goes Out covers her life from 2011 - 2019, a period during which she graduated from college, became an award-winning author, developed She-Ra and the Princess of Power and went through various personal changes, such as leaving her church, realising she's gay, and getting married. I've enjoyed Stevenson's work a lot in the past, and have read Nimona and Lumberjanes with pleasure. However, this book is a very shoddy piece of work. Not wanting to discuss your emotions and personal developments in depth to the world is a completely reasonable position to take: but if you are writing a book ostensibly about your growth as a person and as a writer, not doing so means your work feels utterly hollow. Stevenson rehashes end of the year reviews, presumably from Tumblr, in which she summarises her years' main events, and includes cute doodles and drawings. These may have been interesting to see when you were blogging in 2014, but they do not make for an interesting memoir. Stevenson has certainly had an interesting career, and has achieved a lot at a very young age: there's a story she could have told there, even if she didn't want to get into too much depth about her personal life. But she barely touches on what it means to be something of a prodigy, or to have achieved so much fast. At the same time, she implies struggles with sexuality, and with her health and the idea of burnout, but she doesn't go into any of this in depth. That means the book comes across as facile, and so general it could almost be about anyone. I found reading it deeply frustrating, and I think whoever encouraged Stevenson to publish this did her a disservice as an artist: she is a creative and imaginative person, who is capable of a lot more. Maybe in twenty years she'll have enough distance from these events to say something interesting about them. For now, reading this can only be disappointing.
Profile Image for mars.
243 reviews33 followers
March 8, 2020
I'm not really sure how to rate this. I enjoyed reading it and it honestly inspired me, but it felt very scattered and a bit all over the place. i also felt the ending was kind of abrupt. honestly, the way it was organized felt like looking at an archive of the authors tumblr

I'm glad I read this, I'm glad I bought it, I will be keeping it, but I don't think I'd recommend it?

cw: self harm, unhealthy weight loss, discussion of mental illness
Profile Image for Raina.
1,596 reviews125 followers
January 12, 2022
Stevenson is one of those famous humans who I feel kinda tight with. I've followed them on Instagram for years, I've read a bunch of their published work, I watched all of the show they made. I also follow their wife, molly ostertag, in the same way.

It was a no-brainer that I'd read their memoir.

This book is a cobbling together. It integrates text from emails that Stevenson apparently sent at the beginning/end of every year (reminded me a lot of the weekly emails I'd send friends back home from college), occasional photos, drawings (both b&w and color), and sometimes sequential comics. In my personal taxonomy of GNs, it fits the criteria of GN-memoir, but only just barely.

As someone who follows Stevenson's work, I loved the window into their actual life. I think if I was interested in becoming a creator of story, if I was interested in gaining storytelling success, I would learn things from this. But if I wasn't already familiar or didn't have another narrative connection, I'm not sure it would have come together.

Loved the gender/sexual questioning representation.

California, twenties, queer, showrunner, marriage, mental health, creation, social media
Profile Image for vic.
307 reviews
July 21, 2020
actual rating: 4.5/5

the molly and noelle pictures made my heart go BOOM BOOM
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
688 reviews249 followers
March 2, 2020
A lovely memoir by the brilliant author of Nimona (which remains one of my favourite graphic novels!)

I’d known close to nothing about Noelle Steveson before reading this memoir. I had no clue what to expect from this, either, but The fire Never Goes Out ended up being really insightful as to her life before becoming a well known comic artist.

This was a journey through the years of ups and downs. I really appreciated that Noelle touched upon mental illness through her narrative, along with the love and struggles that come with being young and thrust into the working world. It was great to see some real photographs interspersed between her drawings as well; many of them made me smile :)

The original art accompanying the writing was wonderful as to be expected. I found it really great to get a glimpse into Noelle’s life during the earlier years of her career. Overall, I found this a nicely put together memoir that gave me a great understanding of Noelle’s life!
Profile Image for TJ.
698 reviews53 followers
May 8, 2020
I am a huge fan of Noelle’s art style and sense of humor, so I was intrigued to see what this memoir would be like. It was a bit too fragmental for my liking, and it really just seemed like annual tumblr posts with some doodles, but I enjoyed it overall. The themes (self love, mental health, sexuality, etc.) were important and well conveyed. 4/5 stars.
Profile Image for erin.
495 reviews312 followers
January 26, 2021
this was beautiful and is criminally underrated.

although some parts weren't as incredible as others I REALLY loved this.
Profile Image for Madison.
611 reviews332 followers
July 6, 2021
This book made me feel a lot of feelings about art and burnout and growing up, but I don't really think it's a super necessary book or one that will appeal to the audience it's being marketed to (teens). Noelle was a huge name on Tumblr, a platform teens don't use, and is now a late-twenties media person adored by other late-twenties media people. They're not really a big name with the youth, and unless you already know the whole saga with their art and their relationship, the disjointed vignettes aren't going to make any sense to you. I've been a huge fan for years, so I liked it, but thinking from a marketing perspective, I think the publisher made some iffy choices here.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,198 reviews

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