Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Book Review: Dreadnought (Nemesis #1)
Author: April Daniels
Genre: MG/YA SFF
Page Count: 276
Publication Date: January 24th, 2017
Plot (from goodreads):
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 much 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.
First of all, a disclaimer: I'm not transgender myself so my thoughts on this book should be taken with a grain of salt/that in mind. However, some reviews by transgender or genderqueer individuals: Cheryl Morgan + Nicole Field.
I wanted to write a review of this book for myself, though, to just get word out there. I want more people to see this book / hear about it and maybe pick it up. And you should pick it up. It's a book that straddles the line between middle grade and young adult with a protagonist at fifteen, and I've heard it labeled as both but apparently it's YA (but it's fine for MG, in my opinion).
Anyway - Danny is our main character and right off the bat Dreadnought is dead. Less then ten pages, I think, and there is a bit of info dumping in there at the beginning just because that with a world that, while like ours, is also vastly different there's some things we need to know.
We learn how superheroes came to be in the world, the many ways in which they did, and also the Dreadnoughts who came before, how the mantle is one that is passed from person to person.
The first half of this book is heartbreaking as it's Danny - who chooses to go by Danielle later in the book, but seems to want to keep the nickname? She's probably unsure, we're unsure. Anyway - heartbreaking. I mean I literally was sitting on a train with my hand over my heart and trying not to cry.
Danny's parents aren't supportive or her only real friend. Hell, even the league of heroes isn't exactly super accepting, either. And it sucks and it hurts but then - she hooks up with a "greycape" she'd met at the beginning and the classic crime fighting begins, that ends up with a fast paced end with twists and surprises, and an epic battle.
The one thing I do want to point out about Danielle as a character is that she's angry at points. She flies up and screams her heart out she's so angry, and she just generally is feeling things more. And there's a line about that even though it hurts, she likes it, feeling things. Sometimes that's something I need to remind myself, so it was good to see. Also fantastic to see unapologetic female anger/rage, always here for that. I'm not kidding, it felt good as hell to read.
I didn't talk much about the representation of a trans main character just because I really don't feel like I'm the right person to talk about it. However, I will say that reading from a cis perspective there were some simple things about the beginning, when she's struggling against everyone, that made my heart hurt. And I hope this book is able to help someone realize they aren't alone.
(I haven't seen any reviews bashing the rep or I would of scrapped my idea to do a full review, no matter how much I, personally, love the book. If you do have problems with it, though, please tell me in the comments and give me links if you've done a full review so I can add that to this post as well)
If you've read, or now want to pick up, Dreadnought please let me know!
Cheryl Morgan (trans women writer)
Nicole Field (multigender writer)
Happy reading, friends.