From Amazon’s Website
Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.
It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.
She doesn’t have time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer―a cyborg named Utopia―still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.
April Daniel’s Dreadnought
Read this if you love…
- Superhero origin stories
- LGTBQQIP2SAA own voices book: trans heroine.
- a teenager taking on the mantle of a superhero despite crippling self doubt and anxiety.
What I loved
I love the re-imagination of superheroes within this story. They have interesting superpowers and names that suit them. They also have personalities that are real and fleshed out.
April Daniels masterfully gives Danny everything she’s always wanted at the beginning of the book, at the expense of another. This leads our character to feel guilt about keeping something that might make her happiest at the cost of becoming a superhero. It’s not every day that the story’s inciting incident is a net positive for the protagonist, but it sets up the windfall of issues that would normally have taken Danny more time to come to terms with had she presented as herself in her own time.
I like watching Danny become who she finally wants to be, but how the change doesn’t happen overnight. Danny doesn’t shy away any more, despite the fact that everyone wants her to in her daily life. The fact that everyone has certain expectations of her once she becomes the superhero is also brilliant. Because it doesn’t matter how we might change ourselves, it comes with expectations from the people around us.
Finally, I love that Danny doesn’t shy away from all the emotions either. She experiences high-highs, low-lows, but also rage. But within all of these core teenage emotions (amped up because of her superhuman abilities), is a girl who just wants to help people now that she can.
What I didn’t love
The book has a slower first half then I would like in an action YA story. This is because Danny has to navigate two new worlds, not just that of a superhero. In my writing classes, they would have told me to pick one: being a girl for the first time, or being a superhero. However, Danny’s worlds are intertwined and it does make sense. The action picks up faster in the second half, and I binged the rest. As Danny stands up for herself and for others, I couldn’t help but cheer her on through to the end.
Although it’s billed as action-epic, I think the internal status story ends up taking precedence within the framework of an action-epic story.
I didn’t like that at the mid-way point, the characters don’t ask for help. I do realize that in a YA book, the characters have to not rely on adults to solve their problems for them, but its the kind of thing that usually leads me to not want to finish a book. I don’t like it heroes make obvious mistakes, and I get really annoyed, no matter what the genre. Which is more of a failing on my part than the story because Danny has very good reasons for not trusting those she was supposed to turn to.
Finally, I’m not sure how I feel about another book where a teen bears the weight of the world on her shoulders. It’s been done so much, but at the same time, it is a very fresh take, and I’m not sure how you avoid this theme when dealing with the superhero storylines.
Having said that, I still think the story is worth reading. And I’m interested in getting the next in the series: Sovereign.
1st, close past, Danny.
External: Society Genre (over arching theme on the who series)
Global Values: Impotence / Personal Power
Core Emotion: Intrigue
Controlling idea: To save society, you might have to choose the benefit of all over your own personal freedom.
Global Values: Failure or Success
Core Emotion: Admiration or Pity
Violence: is appropriate. She’s a superhero so she’s expected to beat up some bad guys. But does so with humanity. There is quite a bit of human loss, but the author doesn’t dwell on it beyond furthering Danny’s passion to be a hero.
Gore: Limited Gore, but there is definitely maiming and serious injuries.
Romance: None, but with hints of sexuality and preferences.
Series: 1st Nemesis Series.
Reality Clover: Sci-fi / Fantasy – Realism