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Nemesis #1


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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.

280 pages, Paperback

First published January 24, 2017

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April Daniels

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,586 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,944 reviews292k followers
February 6, 2017
"Genetics aren't destiny."

In a world where the skies are filled with superheroes and supervillains, 15-year-old Danny's dreams come true when the famous Dreadnought perishes in her arms and passes his powers on to her - powers that include super-strength, flight, and an outer body that matches the girl Danny's always been inside.

And, well... I loved it! Danny is going to steal the hearts of so many readers. This is such a beautiful ownvoices work and it shows from the very first chapter when we meet Danny sneakily buying nail polish. She tells us:
Painting my toes is the one way I can take control. The one way I can fight back. The one way I can give voice to this idea inside me that gets heavier every year:
I'm not supposed to be a boy.

The author gets the balance absolutely perfect between light, quirky superhero novel, and a darker, thought-provoking, coming-of-age story. The flying, world-saving and GIRL POWER make this a wonderful, heart-warming read. The other members of the former Dreadnought's group - "Legion Pacifica" - think Danny is too young to take on the villains and save the world, but that just gets added to the long list of mistakes people make about her.

However, as noted above, there are some darker aspects of Dreadnought. The author doesn't shy away from portraying the reality of transphobia and how difficult it is to grow up with a father who wants to make you a "real man". Many trans slurs are thrown around, and Graywytch (another of the Legion Pacifica members) deliberately misgenders Danny.

Additionally, Danny must now deal with the lingering eyes of certain men and boys, other forms of sexism, and the assumption that she now wants to start dating the boys at her school - which is incorrect because Danny is, in fact, gay. It's fantastic to see, despite all of this, that Danny comes out on top again and again. She's allowed to be weak and scared and unsure, but in the end, she knows who she is and who she's always been. She calls out the boys on their sexism:
“I don’t like boys, any boys. If I did like boys, I wouldn’t like boys who talk to me like you just did.”

Though a superhero story, Dreadnought is first and foremost about its characters. Its women, I should say. A diverse array of women drive the novel - from the white, gay and trans Danny, to the Latina Calamity, to Doc Impossible who is coded as non-white (Her dark hair is pulled back in a braid) to Utopia who is - wait for it - a cyborg villain.

The character dynamics - particularly between Danny and Calamity - shine throughout. Reading this the weekend of the Women's March made me feel quite emotional. This message of female solidarity is so important; and add to it a much-needed, complex, trans superheroine and you have one hell of a powerful book. I can't wait for more.
They want me to cooperate in my own destruction. They want me to tell them it's not true. They want me to help them believe the lie.
Never again.

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Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 321 books399k followers
February 19, 2018

April Daniels’ superhero story really packs a wallop! Fifteen-year-old Danny Tozer has always known that she is a girl, even though she was designated male at birth. Then one day, by being in the wrong place at the right time, she inherits the powers of the world’s greatest superhero: Dreadnought. At the same time, she gets her greatest wish: a female body that matches her identity. But which challenge will be tougher: taking on the job of superhero, or finding acceptance from her friends and family who are suddenly confronted with her true, female self?

In Danny’s home of New Port (an alternate Seattle) metahumans are everywhere, dividing themselves into white capes, gray capes, and black capes, but that doesn’t always mean you can tell the heroes from the villains. Does Danny step into the shoes of the great Dreadnought and become a white cape, or does her destiny lie elsewhere?

As she tries to master her powers and explain to her friends and her parents how and why she has suddenly become the female she always knew she was inside, Danny gets pulled in many different directions by those who wish to influence her decisions. The white capes in their gleaming downtown tower offer unlimited resources and government support, but some seem reluctant to accept a transgender Dreadnought.

The gray cape Calamity tries to teach Danny that crime-solving isn’t always a matter of black and white, but are her methods too violent and gray for Danny? And lurking in the background is the shadowy figure of a new super-villain, a black cape that somehow managed to kill the last Dreadnought, leading Danny to inherit his powers. Danny has to find this villain and discover how she managed to kill the supposedly invincible Dreadnought, so Danny won’t be next on the hitlist.

This is a page-turning adventure that also explores identity and acceptance in a poignant, lovely way. Danny’s struggles ring true on every level, and any teen will relate. Fortunately, Dreadnought is the first of a series. I’m dying to read the rest!

I found this book thanks to the website Queer Books for Teens: http://queerbooksforteens.com/
Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,309 followers
February 7, 2017
I loved so much about this story, so I'll try to be both brief and coherent. No promises, though. And just before we get started I want to emphasize that this is an ownvoices book - which is something that I think comes through in Danny's character. Just want to make sure as many people know that as possible. Ok, onto the review!

Danny is such a fresh and fantastic voice. Trans, lesbian, and a superhero, and I think every one of those identifiers is handled equally, while it is also clear that these are not her only attributes. She is powerful and weak, brave and utterly terrified. And I loved her for it all.

This book also did such an excellent job of balancing the types of people that Danny encounters after she gets the body she wants - not to mention an incredible set of superpowers. She has people who are fiercely in her corner and are utterly accepting of her. These characters intentionally reach out in any way they can to help Danny to feel comfortable. They make sure she has the clothes she wants, or offer her support when she can't find it elsewhere. But Danny also has a fair amount of more terrible people to deal with. And when I say terrible people, I'm not talking about the full-on supervillain.

Danny is (sadly) not free from transphobia once she transitions. She has spent a lot of her life being hyper-masculinized by her emotionally abusive father, and I want to make sure I offer the warning that he throws a lot of slurs Danny's way throughout the book. Not only that, but she also has to deal with frequent misgendering by a trans-exclusionary feminist. To me, she came across as occasionally more villainous than the villain of the book does. She was vile. Feminism that doesn't include trans women is pointless and deeply horrifying, and the TERF character in this story disgusted me. Which is exactly what she was supposed to do.

And!!! The side characters are also super diverse. There are multiple side characters of color, one of whom is latinx and who I adore. There are also multiple side queer characters. I'm hoping for possibly more side queer characters going into the next book that have a more central role in Danny's life, but ultimately I loved the collection of characters we got in this book so I am still super pleased.

The worldbuilding was fantastic. I loved the chapters we get when characters talk about superhero tech, as that is one of my favorite elements of superhero stories. There was also (and this is such a small scene I feel silly for mentioning it except that it was hysterical) this fantastic section that was CLEARLY calling out Batman and his completely ridiculous eccentricities. This scene happens at the beginning of the book and I think it sets the tone for how a lot of the superhero stuff is handled. This story isn't silly, but it does embrace some of the ridiculousness that comes inherently with people who have super powers and wear costumes to fight crime.

Overall, I loved so much about this book. It was fast-paced, well-balanced, and Danny was a force of nature as a main character. I cannot wait to see how she develops moving forward into the next book in the series, and how the world around her shifts as well.

Remember when I said I would be brief? Oops.

Ok so tl;dr... this book was fantastic and I highly encourage you to pick it up. Plus keep a lookout for the sequel because it comes out in just six months and I will 100% be getting my hands on it as soon as I can.
Profile Image for Maggie Gordon.
1,896 reviews133 followers
April 25, 2018
Writing this review hurts me. I was extremely excited about Dreadnought as North American literature desperately needs more diversity and trans superhero narratives are quite rare. Unfortunately, it’s just not a very good book. Do I think that people should buy and read Dreadnought anyways? There are so few books with trans protagonists that I can’t in good faith say to avoid the book entirely. On the other hand, given the sheer number of positive reviews out there, I do think that it’s important to address some of the problematic aspects of the story.

Dreadnought is the story of Danny, a young teen who doesn’t feel like the boy everyone presumes she is. She buys nail polish and paints her toes in secret as a way trying to quiet these feelings, but is interrupted one day when Dreadnought, greatest hero of them all, is killed in front of him by the super villain Utopia. As he dies, Dreadnought passes on his powers on to Danny who finds herself suddenly transformed. Danny is finally herself, but also a superhero with some of the greatest powers that the world has ever seen. However, Danny’s life is not made magically perfect. Her family is abusive, her friends abandon her, and she’s trying to learn to deal with her powers mostly on her own with only the guidance of another teen hero named Calamity. As Utopia continues to work towards the fulfillment of her evil plans, Danny has to figure out her place in the world and whether she’s ready to step up as the new Dreadnought!

The Good

Danny is a unique and needed protagonist. It’s not often that trans people get to take center stage in literature, and it’s wonderful to see such a positive, optimistic trans girl get to be a superhero. Sure, Danny has a lot of problems in her life. She’s an abuse victim and that has real effects on her personality and self-esteem. The narrative doesn’t shy away from the terrible things that trans people face in their daily lives, but Danny is a survivor and she never gives up. She is a super hero, through and through.

The Bad

Dreadnought feels very much like a first novel that didn’t get a lot of attention from a professional editor. It’s got heart, but there are storytelling basics that are terribly handled, resulting in a bit of a frustrating read.

For example, the characters are flat. So very very flat. Take Danny, our protagonist. We should know a lot about her, yet her life is a giant question mark other than she used to play football. For a character that we spend so much time with, watch deal with horrific abuse, we don’t really get to see anything else. I want Danny to be more than tragedy and superpowers.

Problematically, none of the other characters are developed that much either. The Legion can be summed up with statements like “that man who is a plant and wants to remain financially solvent”, “the guy who looks like that Fantastic Four dude”, and “Lady Thor”. We just don’t know much about any of the superheroes save for Dr. Impossible, and she only starts to get interesting in the last 20 pages of the book! Calamity gets more development, but she is primarily a vigilante, angry at the world because of unfairness. She has fancy guns and a big motorcycle, and we don’t know much about her aside from the end of book revelations about her family.

I could contend with flat characters if they were just boring, but a few don’t make any sense. Danny has a long-term friend, David. On the first day that he sees his friend after her transformation, he is enamored with her breasts. He is not, as one might expect, freaked out by how his friend dramatically physically changed overnight. No, because she’s hot, he spends a lot of time looking at her chest. On the second day, he asks her out with a rather horrid speech about how he is ready to settle and Danny is so hot that he can forget about the fact that she is actually a boy. When Danny rightfully rejects him, he storms off screaming slurs.

David isn’t a character so much as he is a plot point. Daniels wanted to show readers the various ways in which trans people suffer, and David represents another type of betrayal. At one point, Danny questions her previous friendship with him, wondering how she didn’t see how he was so terrible. Don’t worry, Danny, it’s just terrible character development confusing people. David was never your friend because he’d have to have been a person first. Could a character reasonably ever act like David? Sure! But it would take more than 48 hours.

The time scale of this book feels off. It’s not that the terrible things that happen to Danny don’t occur in real life, but they are so squished together to get the plot rolling that these important emotional moments feel contrived. All of these incidents start to feel throwaway rather than significant. They happen, we move on, and the lesson is that transphobia is terrible and pervasive. There is little time to unpack any of them so the barrage of abuse feels both pornographic and hyperbolic at the same time.

The plot is also pretty ho-hum which is unfortunate given the state of the characters. There are white capes who are not as good as they claim, and a super villain who is a narcissist that’s trying to stop something terrible, but going about it in the wrong (evil) way. The powers that be don’t see the trouble coming and the new whippersnapper has to take care of things on her own. It’s a pretty standard superhero plot which isn’t a bad thing. But if your characters are weak, your plot needs to carry the book. Even for teens, growing up in the age of superhero movies means that this book probably isn’t offering anything new in terms of story other than Danny.

Relatedly, the science aspects of this book are lazy. In one scene, Danny has to stop a plane from crashing that should not have been crashing. She was flying in a cloud layer when a nearby jet sucks a goose into its engine causing it to explode. Right away we have some problems with altitudes and feasibility. It’s not that a goose, clouds, and a jet could never be in the same air space, but it’s not common for bird strikes to occur far beyond airports. Furthermore, while bird strikes often do cause engine failure, in Dreadnought, the large jet immediately begins to crash. Shenanigans. Jets are designed to cope with the loss of an engine, and jets are also designed to glide. One engine exploding would not have pitched the plane into a tail spin. It would have likely been fine even without Danny’s help. I was immediately yanked out of the narrative by the fact that it didn’t make sense. So fail on that scene.

Similarly, near the end of the book, Calamity and Dreadnought are sent to get some N2 or, as Calamity explains, non-Newtonian liquid. It’s supposedly not easy to get so Calamity suggests that they steal some from a university. Or perhaps they could just go to a pharmacy as shampoo and toothpaste are both non-Newtonian liquids. So is custard. You can even mix cornstarch and water for the same effect. If you’re going to have super amazing tech in your story, don’t just throw in cool words because science vocabulary sounds awesome. Make sure it all actually works or is at least plausible. (Or write clearly because this also could have been solved by stating that N2 was a specific type of non-Newtonian fluid! That was not clear in the narrative. I teach writing and this is something I would hammer my students on. Say what you mean!)

The Ugly

Greywytch. Oh dear lord, Greywytch. Where do I even begin? Greywytch is a member of the Legion. The very first thing she does upon meeting Danielle is to emphasise that Danielle is Daniel. Shortly after, when Danny corrects the Legion on misgendering her, Greywytch states “You were raised to be a man. Your privilege blinds you, and makes you dangerous.” When Danny says that she’s just as much of a girl as Greywytch, the senior superhero responds, “Do you even know how to put in a tampon?”

All of these statements are extraordinarily transphobic. According to April Daniels, they are all based on various things that she’s seen people say/write. It shows because they feel exceptionally out of place in this conversation, and the character of Greywytch doesn’t feel like a character at all.

I don’t want to suggest that the Legion wouldn’t do/say transphobic things, but given the focus of the conversation, their concern seems to be that the most important hero with the best powers is now a 15 year old and they aren’t allowed to recruit kids anymore. Greywytch’s immediate nasty commentary to a teenager that the Legion knows has just undergone a massive shock starts to undermine my suspension of disbelief. Do I accept that someone could be that cruel? Sure, the internet exists. I see that level of horridness on a daily basis. Do I believe that such statements would be made so quickly upon meeting this young 15 year old teenager in the context of a business/recruitment meeting? Not really. A few of her colleagues suggest that Greywytch stop being such an asshole, but her EXTRAORDINARILY inappropriate comments are mostly tolerated. Once again, the time scale seems off. Were these characters to interact more, the insidious nature of transphobia could be highlighted. As it stands, the scene feels contrived and constructed to make a certain point. I want stories to be political, but I want stories to tell a good story as well. And the better you tell your story, the more effective your political point will be.

For example, Greywytch is never anything other than a transphobia mouthpiece. That is her entire role in the book. Be needlessly cruel to Danny based on the absolute worst examples of transphobic feminists that the author has dealt with. She never gets to be a character which means that her transphobia is less powerful. It is obvious that she represents a type of person that we’re supposed to despise. If Daniels instead chose to make us empathise with and see her as human? Suddenly the narrative becomes a lot more complex and nuanced. We have to deal with the fact that a person who does good things also does terrible things. What does that mean? How do we respond? Given the fact that Greywytch is nothing more than a political ideology, readers lose out on this important thought exploration.

Finally, my last issue with Dreadnought, and perhaps the one that bothers me the most, centers on what it says about “being a girl”. The way that Danny is denied the freedom to express herself in certain ways is heartbreaking. But the superhero aspect of this book ends up twisting this conversation into something that makes me uncomfortable. When Danny transforms at the start of the book, it is a magical (or at least hypertech) experience. Her body changes in ways that are generally unavailable in real life. This is pure wish fulfillment. On one hand, wish fulfillment is important and one of the many things that fiction can be good for! But in this case, the wish fulfillment ends up entrenching some extraordinarily problematic ideas of sex and gender for trans and cis women alike.

Danny’s transformation starts with an exploration of how she is small. More delicate. Her fingers taper. Her shoulders are narrower. Her shoes are boats. Oh, but her hips strain her jeans now. She has nice breasts. As the narrative tells us, she’s essentially a supermodel. There’s a moment where the book tries to be critical of this, but that’s quickly passed over to delight in this new experience of a “female” body. I am a cis gender lady. I have broad shoulders. I am tall. I am large. I have been harassed since I was a child for having a man’s body. Had I read this book when I was a teen, connecting girlhood to an idealised body would have hurt me deeply. I can only imagine that young trans readers would feel the same. There is no magic in the world that will change our bodies to our ideal form. Reading about Danny’s transformation gives you a moment of beautiful imagination, then a horrible crash back to reality. It asks us to dwell on this amazing occurrence that we can never ever have.

Danny also mentions several times throughout the book that she’s subject to more emotional highs and lows because of estrogen, and that her feelings have been unlocked now that she’s a girl. This was the most offensive part of the book – the idea that being a woman means that you are more emotional. Women have been punished for this stereotype for centuries. We’re hysterical, we’re sensitive, and we’re ruled by our feelings. I can totally understand Danny being affected by the sudden change in hormones because that really does cause bodily chaos for a bit. But women are not uniquely emotional beings, and men are not emotional robots in comparison. Ironically, radical feminists, the ones that Greywytch is meant to represent, have critiqued any gender theory that sees men and women on such a hurtful binary. Women aren’t tiny creatures that hold ourselves in certain, dainty ways. Women aren’t capable of feeling more than men. To suggest such things and not have the narrative provide a counter is something I can’t tolerate from a book that aims to help those who feel marginalised. It teaches both trans and cis kids that there is one way to be a girl and that’s unacceptable.


Am I being unfair to Dreadnought in that I expect it to be better simply because it offers a different perspective? I remain conflicted. I don’t want to suggest that people banish the book off their shelves or protest libraries to get rid of it. I don’t want to deprive trans youth of a rare book that speaks directly to them. But I also don’t think that means that the book should escape worthy criticism. Without the trans narrative, it would not have been interesting enough for me to take notice of. It is not written particularly well, and it showcases some harmful perspectives that undermine the positivity that it could bring. For me, it was not that Dreadnought wasn’t perfect, but that its flaws were quite deep, impacting and needed to be highlighted. After all, from a critical perspective, the conversations that we have when we fail are often the most valuable ones to have in order to grow. I will be reading the sequel, Sovereign, and I hope that the conversations in that book are more nuanced than they were in Dreadnought.
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
655 reviews3,856 followers
July 14, 2017
“I see a world that is terrified of me. Terrified of someone who would reject manhood. Terrified of a girl who knows who she is and what she’s capable of. They are small, and they are weak, and they will not hurt me ever again. My name is Danielle Tozer. I am a girl. No one is strong enough to take that from me anymore.”

I cannot and will not shut up about how great this book is y'all!

trigger warnings for: transphobia, homophobia and trans/homophobic slurs

Dreadnought is a superhero story following Danielle Tozer, a transgirl who is given superpowers and her perfect body by the superhero Dreadnought. Danielle must discover her place among the cities existing superheroes, deal with the consequences of her transition - especially from her transphobic family and friends.

I soon as I heard about this ownvoices trans superhero story I wanted to read it. I was so interested in seeing a transwoman and lesbian girl as the protagonist, and to have a unique take on the superhero genre. This story has heaps of elements I can personally get behind. A diverse narrator, a heroes quest, a big supervillain, SUPERHEROES, f/f relationships and mad science.

For me, the highlight of Dreadnought was Danny as the main character. Her voice came through so strongly and she definitely had a massive presence in this book. I liked she was definitely a grey character, and that she had flaws and issues just like the rest of us to work through. Danny goes through all this incredible character development, accepting herself and her position in the world, as well as her new powers as Dreadnought and stands up for herself and for the world so strongly and I admire the heck out of her. Some people say she was too angry and I don't understand that for one second, she came from an incredibly tough place, and deals with a sickening amount of transphobia from all sides, and still she does the best thing she can in each situation.

The side characters were also well written. Calamity was a fun character, and also a black lesbian which I loved! Doc Impossible was a super interesting character who added a nice sympathetic touch to the cast, and I loved her relationship with Danny. I wish the other main superheroes had been more fleshed out, but I am hoping they have a greater presence in book 2.

This book does contain an incredible amount of homophobia and transphobia, and it can be very hard to get through at times. But I think the important thing is that Danny challenged each thing said against her as a transwoman, and also has support from other characters.

“You think it’s a uterus that makes a woman? Bullshit. You feel like you’re a girl, you live it, it’s part of you? Then you’re a girl. That’s the end of it, no quibbling. You’re as real a girl as anyone.”

My one issue with this book was writing based. I thought some of the worldbuilding was a little lacking and the book didn't seem quite as action-filled or suspenseful as it should have. Although it was only a short book, it took longer to get through then I thought. Some parts were brilliantly written and I enjoyed the scene as it played out, but some felt a little .. off, like the suspense that should have been there wasn't. However, this was completely balanced out by the great character interactions and character growth so the writing definitely did not write off the book as a whole.

Overall, Dreadnought is a fresh take on the superhero genre, featuring an incredible strong transwoman as the main character. The character growth Danny goes through is delightful, and the side characters really fleshed out this world. I'm really hoping for more growth in the relationship between Danny and Calamity in the sequel, and for some of the other superheroes to be more fleshed out and present.

Profile Image for Justine.
1,112 reviews301 followers
February 6, 2017
So, so good! This book is, in one sense, wish fulfillment of the highest order - when Danny inherits Dreadnought's superpowers, it allows her to physically transition into the girl she has always kept hidden on the inside. But Danielle very quickly learns that transition, even when accompanied by superpowers, does not magically heal the damage to her self esteem resulting from the years of emotional and physical abuse she has suffered. And guess what? There is prejudice and misunderstanding even among the world of superheroes - it isn't just reserved for the obvious villains.

I loved Danielle's journey to come to terms with her identity both as a girl and as a superhero, and her discovery that true empowerment has to come from inside. This is a great series starter with so much potential, and I'm very much looking forward to the next part of Danielle's story.

UPDATE: After thinking about it for a few days, I updated my rating to a full 5 stars. I don't change my ratings very often, but this book was so good on so many levels:)
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,008 reviews2,598 followers
January 23, 2017
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/01/23/...

This year, if you’re involved in one or more of the many diversity reading challenges out there or simply encouraging yourself to check out more diverse reads, I hope you’ll consider Dreadnought. Books like this one have a relevant place in our world today for their role in celebrating LGBT voices and spreading awareness, and I think what excited me most was the depth of our protagonist and the way her story was told.

Fifteen Danny Tozer has always known in her mind and in her heart that she is a girl, even if her body says otherwise. The crushing anxiety of trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender has been building lately, which is why at the start of this book, she finds herself hiding behind the mall secretly painting her toenails—holding onto this one thing she can control. That’s when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the world’s greatest superhero known as Dreadnought literally falls out of the sky and lands right in front of her. Gravely injured by a supervillain named Utopia, Dreadnought knows his time is near, so with his dying breath he passes his powers on to Danny.

In that moment, Danny is changed. Becoming the new Dreadnought has not only granted the amazing superpowers that come with the role, but it has also transformed her body into what she’s always thought it should be, the girl she has always been inside. For Danny, this is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to her, though that happiness is quickly dampened when faced with the hostile reactions of her overbearing father who refuses to accept her new identity. At school, her best friend David is also suddenly treating her differently, saying and doing these awful things. Furthermore, Danny has realized that the mantle of Dreadnought comes with certain responsibilities—like saving the world. Sure enough, it’s not long before the superhero team Legion comes knocking at her door trying to recruit her, and the offer has Danny feeling torn. She knows she wants to help people, but she’s just not sure she wants to be the kind of hero the Legion wants her to be.

At its heart, Dreadnought is a superhero novel—it’s fun, fast-paced, and action-packed. But as you can see, there’s also a lot more to the story, and the conflicts here are complex and multi-faceted. I liked how this book incorporated the superhero elements while at the same time using Danny’s super-powered transformation and the accompanying acquisition of Dreadnought’s abilities as an allegory for a person coming out as transgender. April Daniels has done a fantastic job exploring Danny’s story, especially in detailing her internal struggles, her hopes and joys, fears and doubts. I can’t even pretend to understand how it feels for teens in that situation, but reading about Danny was definitely an emotional journey. Her character is well-written, deeply developed and very real.

Plot-wise, Dreadnought is an entertaining read. Momentum took some time to build, but when Danny meets the Legion, I think that was when the story really hit its stride. I loved Doc Impossible, and the banter between her and Danny during their first major scene together quickly made her one of my favorite side characters. Another thing I loved about this book was the female friendship. While Danny considers Legion’s offer to join up, she meets up with another “greycape” hero named Calamity (and I have a serious weakness for cowgirl-themed heroes) and the two of them take it upon themselves to help those who slip through the cracks of the Legion’s watch. They have a great dynamic together, and the excitement ramps up as the duo decide they have what it takes to take down Utopia themselves.

But for all its strengths, the story also has its weaknesses. There were parts of it that felt a little too clichéd or unconvincing. For example, other than Danny and maybe a couple other characters, no one else was all that fleshed out, and they were treated more like props than real people. Take the Legion—we hear about all their great deeds and how they’re the most powerful superhero team in the world, but of course at the moment of truth they are rendered useless so that our protagonist can conveniently step up to save the day. Portrayal of characters like David, Graywytch, or Danny’s parents are also extreme to the point where they sometimes felt like caricatures of caricatures. While people like that certainly exist, the way they were written in this book felt scripted and done for the sake of pushing the story along. The author also did more telling than showing, with rocky prose in places and pages of info-dumping being a frequent issue early on in the novel. Finally, world-building felt sparse and glossed over, and throughout the book I couldn’t help but experience this disconnect to the wider world beyond.

All told though, I enjoyed Dreadnought a lot. It’s an eye-opening book featuring a wonderfully developed and genuine protagonist. This is the origin story about how she became the eponymous superhero, and it is an unforgettable journey of action and emotion. What a promising start, with much potential for the rest of the Nemesis series!
Profile Image for l.
1,667 reviews
July 22, 2017
I should preface this by saying dysphoria is real, and however a person chooses to handle it - whether transitioning or not - is a deeply personal choice that no one else has any right to be involved in. And I believe this to be true too re: children as long as they have the capacity to make medical decisions.

However, I was deeply uncomfortable with this book. The plot is thin, the characters are flat, but those aren't my major concerns. It's the way that gender, sex & transition is handled.

1. "Maybe for people who really are boys, [male socialization] works. Maybe it fits for them." (7) I find that the easiest way to deal with claims about what male socialization is and isn't is to reverse the situation because we know so much about female socialization and we can assess those statements/claims: 'Maybe for people who really are girls, female socialization works. Maybe it fits for them.' We can see that this is nonsense. Being resistant to male/female socialization i.e. being gender nonconforming does not make you not a man or not a woman; it just means that you're human. That you are more than a list of stereotypes. That gender is harmful. You might find your dysphoria means you want to transition, and you might not.

2. That she transitions into the body of an underwear model reads as fetishistic. An attempt to address that was made but no, it's still fetishistic. Also: "Some grew a little taller, one grew back some lost toes, that sort of thing" (51) - so no one else became a perfect specimen of masculinity/femininity, only the trans character? No one else took in media images? Only her? Hm.

3. "They were all cis - that is to say, they weren't trans - so their bodies didn't change to match their gender identities because they were already matching." (51) Ah... if you only knew if my teen self who would do anything to have an 'unmarked' body, no hips, no breasts etc. Doesn't make me trans, doesn't make any of the people who suffer from dysphoria necessarily trans. The reduction of dysphoria to something only trans people feel speaks to the fundamental misunderstanding of what gender is/does from point 1. It also is such a gloss of the realities encountered by female people... the prevalence of EDs/body hatred among us and the social causes of that.

4. The assumption that someone essentially female bodied would want to get pregnant, lol. And her hissy fit at not having a uterus therefore not being a real woman.... I've encountered some of this discourse - the uterus privilege discourse - and it's hysterical and so far removed from the realities encountered by female people.

5. "Oh yeah. I'm gay now." (57) lol what a way to treat the complexity that is sexual orientation post transition. I think about how difficult it was for me to admit that I was gay and for other women as well, and 'oh yeah, I'm gay now' lmao....

6. lmaoooooooooooo @ the terf character. Let's ignore the real issues re: male socialization/privilege and the nuances therein (she acknowledges that she had male privilege in the text later! when they're talking about her creepy ex-best friend) and just have a psychotic feminist character (funny how this trope re-emerges from 'progressives') harassing a teenaged trans girl who has just been through a life changing experience & telling her she isn't a woman because she doesn't know about tampons. Why not have her hold a party where they bake cookies out of their own menstrual blood and don't invite her next. And I'm so amused @ the MichFest shoutout. Those Evil Lesbians Having Their Own Festival. How Dare They. How Dare They Acknowledge Being Female is a Specific Experience That Over Half the Population Have, and How Dare They Celebrate It Using Their Own Time and Resources. Terrible. Those Mean Lesbians Are At It Again!

7. "Watching the other girls, the ones they let be girls, head in the other direction." (68) ..... again, no understanding of female socialization...

8. Estrogen makes her more in touch with her emotions.......................... I'm so tired of this.

9. The 'signs' were she asked if she could be a princess and she never had a cooties phase.......................
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
May 16, 2017
Dreadnought is a ton of fun. This book follows Danny, a trans girl who gets the body she’s always wanted after famous superhero Dreadnought passes his powers on to her.

There’s a good balance here between a fairly dark coming-of-age story and a fun, heartwarming superhero story. This is a superhero novel for those who don’t get to be a part of superhero novels.

I seriously loved the characters here. Danny is just amazing. She’s so angry that if written with less skill, she would come off whiny, but here her abrupt anger is consistent, and comes off as a genuine character trait rather than a plot convenience. April Daniels develops Danny’s motivations for becoming a superhero so well. I love that she’s not good just for the purpose of being good.

Danny's dynamics with Doc Impossible and Calamity stand out as well. Calamity is fairly compelling all on her own. The relationship building between her and Danny is great. I’m rooting for them to get together officially in book two, and a scene towards the end of the book gave me some serious hope.

Possibly my least favorite parts of the book are Dany’s conversations with villains. The villains of this book, Utopia and Graywytch, come off fairly comical. I get it; it's a superhero story and they're villains. But I wanted more. Utopia is actually given motivation, but her solution to the problem is still so unbelievable and she’s too obviously meant to be the villain, not a morally ambiguous character. It’s wasted potential. Graywytch… huh. I have fairly mixed opinions on her being in this book. She’s clearly meant to be a serious demon for Danny, but while her opinions on trans people are sadly realistic, she's just so freaking comical. I honestly kind of wish she was left out. We already have Danny’s father’s transphobia, but his character feels far more realistic and villainous. Graywytch just seems like a plot device.

The plot in general hits on every trope of a typical superhero novel, but executes all of them very well. While the twists are fairly easy to guess, the character dynamics and Danny’s character make the story compelling anyway. April Daniels also has a talent for compelling action scenes; out of around five, there was only one that even somewhat confused me, and it was entirely my fault for being overtired. The worldbuilding could’ve been fleshed out a bit more, but it was seriously cool.

This book is short enough that it never stops being fun, and I'm so happy to have read it.

div17: romance w trans mc (we all know Calamity and Danny are dating. c'mon)
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Someone I work with got me a signed copy of this (after I'd already bought myself a copy!), and I honestly have never been happier. Thanks, April Daniels!
Profile Image for Romie.
1,061 reviews1,272 followers
June 5, 2017
It's definitely a really important book.

When you're a kid, who do you look up to ? A superhero. You need to find yourself in a superhero, you need to think 'That could be me.' Kids need a transgender superhero.

Danny is a transgender girl, she's fifteen, and one day she sees the Superhero Dreadnought being killed. Following this death, she receives the mantle, making her the new Dreadnought and giving her her ideal body. And her ideal body matches her real gender : she's not a boy, she's never been one, she's a girl.
The first problem she has to deal with is her parents ... her dad is abusive, he makes her feel like she's worthless, like she'll never be good enough, he keeps calling her 'son', 'young man', 'freak', 'faggot', and saying she's a liar, that he's ashamed of her ... and that's the thing when you're dealing with an abusive paternal figure : your start believing what he's saying. So Danny believes she's pathetic, the worst person ever to walk this earth ... but she's not. Her mom, for one second, made her feel like maybe she was ready to accept the fact that she never really had a son, until she called Danny 'selfish' because she wanted to stay the way she is now. And that's fucked up. Transitioning is YOUR choice. It's always your choice.

Then she has to deal with the Legion, this superhero organization. They want her to be Dreadnought, they don't want her to go live a normal life, some even say that if she's not working with them, then she has to give the mantle back, which also means having back a man body, and that's not happening any time soon. Some of them welcome her, some want to use her, and some are transphobic homophobic assholes - I'm looking at you Graywytch you bitch.

That's when she meets Calamity - well technically she met her when she got the mantle, but I'm going to talk about the moment they started hanging out. Calamity is a greycape, she's not good, she's not bad, she just does what she believes is right without caring about the Law. And if there is one thing she wants, it's to capture Utopia, the super villain who killed the former Dreadnought. And she needs Dany's help. I loved their friendship - and maybe more in the next book, please - because Calamity accepts Danny just the way she is, but she makes her see nothing is totally black or white.

I also really liked Doc Impossible, because she gave Danny great advices, like when Danny told her she didn't feel like a real woman because she would never be able to be pregnant, or because her chromosomes aren't XX. Things like that don't make a woman.
“You think it’s a uterus that makes a woman? Bullshit. You feel like you’re a girl, you live it, it’s part of you? Then you’re a girl. That’s the end of it, no quibbling. You’re as real a girl as anyone.”

In this book Danny realizes that she has to rethink the way she sees the world : what makes a woman? why some men think they can do absolutely anything? what does it mean to be brave?

I'm really excited to read the next book, because I truly think Danny can impress me.

“I'm transgender, and a lesbian, and I'm not ashamed of that.”

Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books687 followers
October 11, 2018
This was sweet. I think there were a lot of great elements--the author feels like she must be a comics fan. I felt a lot of love and empathy for Danny, too, which was nice. I always like it when I see new faces that look like the faces I love.

CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics)

Things to love:

-Danny! What a precious little lamb of a baby girl. I know she can basically just pick up New York and shift it over 5 feet if she wants a little extra cloud cover, but I want to hug her and tell her it's okay and see if she's a metallics or sparkles kinda girl.

-Calamity! The character, though the chaos in book also good. Calamity is such an excellent friend and I am excited to see where her story goes.

-That penultimate fight. OH MAN. I won't say more but I was on the edge of my butt.

-The trans experience. There was a lot in here about the joy and pain of the world seeing you as you want to be seen, coming out, and finding that while men and women aren't so different, the roles we're given and the experiences that form us often are. I loved getting to see Danny come into herself as a superhero and a young woman.

-The world. I liked it. It felt very "The Incredibles" sort of. Bright splashy colors, over the top "capes" and a cool take on superpowers. (Or at least, cool for those of us with about two movie franchises worth of knowledge on superheroes.)

-The villain. I think there were some cool ideas and character motivations here. I won't say more to avoid spoilers, but I thought this was a surprisingly novel, interesting take on a bad guy.

-Some of the other superheroes. I loved Doc Impossible and Magma. I thought the rest were interesting as well. Except Graywytch whose powers may be cool but she can kindly fall off the next tallest building she finds. Thx.

Some things I wish had been tighter:

-The characterization of people. A lot of this was clearly catharsis against transphobes, homophobes, TERFs, toxic masculinity and so on. And I get it and support people finding that release. From a story perspective, I'd have liked it to have felt a little more fleshed out. They felt sort of like paper faces taped on punching bags. I think they deserve to be punched but I'd also like if it felt more like people than high density foam.

-Nitpicks on femininity. There were a couple lines about estrogen which, maybe this is the way the author experienced hormones, but I wish it had been a little reworded. Women and their emotional state are a highly policed area and I am always extra sensitive to things people who want to ignore and/or abuse women can point to to perpetuate that system. I did like seeing Danny explore what femininity meant to her though.

-The Ricochet storyline. Okay. Not gonna go into spoilers, but this felt a bit like a failure of allyship. I was very impressed with and happy for the people of color in the story. But the "truth" of Ricochet felt like a missed opportunity that, again, I'm sure unintentionally gives power to a narrative that we've been fighting against for...I think it's safe to say centuries at this point. With everything so clearly a representation of a social issue, the spotlight on this story made it more obvious how far from positive it was, in my opinion.

-The other fight scenes. THE ONE WAS SO GOOD!!! I'd have loved if they all felt that taut.

I am glad to have read this story. It's not at all my usual, but Danny has wormed her way into my heart and possibly for another book on my shelves. Quality-wise, I would read on for sure. It is YA and it is pretty superhero-y, though so I will need to save up some time and energy for another round.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,248 reviews219 followers
February 7, 2017
A YA superhero story with a transgender heroine that has a lot of depth.

Danny Tozer is a transgender 15-year old who is living life as a boy because her family is anything but supportive of her. Then she suddenly inherits the mantle of Dreadnought which remakes her physical form into her ideal body, that of a girl. But she's still Danny, still has an abusive family and has to deal with the whole spectrum of reactions to transgender people. She also has to come to terms with having superpowers and whether she even wants to be a hero or not as well as whether she even considers herself worthy to be one.

This is fantastic. Danny is a compelling character who is very easy to root for, partly because she's such an underdog, but also because her motivations for being a hero are so great. Her friendship with Calamity, another great character, is good but also serves to contrast their motivations and methods.

Additionally the super-villain behind it all, although clearly insane, also has a very interesting motivation which I'm sure we'll see more of in upcoming books. I hope there's many more in the series.
Profile Image for kory..
1,010 reviews108 followers
August 31, 2018
Trigger warnings: transmisia, TERF rhetoric, multiple transmisic slurs, anti-queer/gay slurs, internalized transmisia (trans character calling herself a transmisic slur) deadnaming, misgendering, suicidal ideation, ableist slurs/language (the r slur, jokingly suggesting someone has ADD, and attributing evilness to mental illnesses), physically and emotionally abusive parents, sexism and misogyny, rape threat (sort of; character wishes rape upon someone)

Rep: Danielle is a trans lesbian. Sarah is a queer Latina.

Smaller issues/annoyances: Use of "normal" to mean "not of a marginalized group". Danielle considering the superheroes her friends, even the ones who were silent when she was having transmisic abuse thrown at her. Danielle's "is that weird? it's weird, isn't it? I'm weird" thought is cringy as hell. When Danielle hears Sarah's story, she thinks her problems seem petty and insignificant in comparison, which is bullshit. Someone else's trauma or struggle doesn't exist to put your's into perspective and make you grateful or whatever the fuck. Sarah makes a joke that white girls get all the cool superhero toys and Danielle says "yeah, that's why they gave it to me. Because I'm white" like...GIRL IT'S A JOKE LMAO BYE. The TERF character tells Danielle's parents that she's a superhero and Danielle calls it "doxxing", which it's...not. Danielle doesn't want to go to the tower where all the superheroes are because of the TERF character, she now considers that not neutral territory, despite the fact that her friend who almost died is there and is asking for her.

Danielle would have been better as a greycape than a whitecape, honestly. She thinks about killing people and almost does kill them or leaves them to die often, but always says she's one of the good ones and just wants to help people. And her moral superiority is wild. Even when she hates herself, she still thinks and behaves as if she's above others because "stealing is bad!!" and "punching a guy who robbed you at gunpoint is bad!!". I think letting her sit comfortably in that grey area would have made for a more interesting character. One who fought on the side of good, but didn't always take the route the "good guys" take. (Especially when those good guys have a widespread transmisia issue.) I think the one thing about Danielle that is grey is her reaction to her father's impending murder. She's all for it, and only guilt about feeling that way is what makes her intervene, and throughout the rest of the book, she expresses regret about not having let him die. Even with the abuse she's dealt with from him, wishing death upon him is not something the typical "One of the Good Ones" would do. And I like that. That's kind of the only thing I can think of that I like about this book (other than how firm Danielle is about how she's always been a girl and always been trans, people just didn't know it, and that she always will be, even if others don't see or accept it.)

Biggest issue #1: The portrayal of what it means to be a girl in this book is kind of problematic. When Danielle becomes a "real girl" (her words) she becomes smaller, for the most part. Her hands, feet, and shoulders shrink down, become petite. But her waist and breasts get fuller. She quite literally becomes society's idealized version of a woman. Those physical things about her body are described as "undeniable evidence of femininity". When her voice changes, she calls it a "girl voice". Because of her transformation, she is now suddenly more in touch with her feelings, more emotional. Because of her transformation, she is suddenly hyper aware of what she eats and doesn't want to gain weight, and starts eating salads. Some of the childhood "signs" of her being trans were her asking if she could be a princess, not having a cooties phase, crossing her legs a certain way, and holding her books in front of her chest. There's even a moment where a doctor has to break it to her that she doesn't have a uterus, and she thinks that means she isn't a real woman.

(I understand that because of the cissexist, heteronormative society we live in that has forced ideas about what it means and looks/sounds like to be a girl or boy, and has attributed genders to objects and colors and feelings etc, that we can't blame or fault trans people for feeling like they need or want those things in order to truly/fully present or be accepted as their gender. I just wish the portrayal of gender and, more specifically, womanhood in this book had been the least bit nuanced, rather than incredibly shallow and, ironically, gender binary enforcing.)

One reviewer mentioned that it's questionable that the other characters who became their ideal selves did not become society's idealized version of what it means to be a woman/man or take on media images, only the trans character did. And that it's explained as "they were cis so their bodies matched their gender and therefor their changes had nothing to do with gender/sex/expression/etc" which reduces dysphoria to something only trans people experience (or have to experience) and neglects the realities of eating disorders and body hate among women, cis or not, and the role media plays in that.

Biggest issue #2: It just seems like so many characters were mouthpieces for transmisic rhetoric to show the realities of what trans people go through, to the point where that overwhelmed the story and made it feel less like a superhero story and more like "hey this is the shit trans people deal with" story. And so often the transmisic is never shut down. Danielle pretty much only ever challenges someone when they say she isn't a girl. Any other transmisic shit is left unchecked. And given the volume of transmisic hate in this book, just how fucking aggressive it is, how saturated the book is with it, I need it to be shut the fuck down or have those characters get what they deserve. And that just doesn't happen. The fucking TERF "superhero", who the author said is literally only there to be transmisic and TERFy, is never even dealt with (I read she isn't dealt with in the next book either, just that she dies for causes unrelated to Danielle. Sigh.) and the other "superheroes" pretty much all die or exit the story without ever having spoken against their TERF buddy.

All in all: I really wanted to like this book, I THOUGHT I was going to really like this book. An own-voices trans girl superhero story? Here for it! I just didn't expect so much unchecked bigotry and ignorance. I was waiting for the big rants and call outs (like when Danielle's best friend suddenly thinks he's entitled to date her because she got a new body) and they just never came. I guess I expected this to be a feminist superhero book, but instead it's just an onslaught of bigotry with a dash of superheroes. And I really do mean onslaught, like, I actually have a full list of trigger warnings for this shit. I don't usually put trigger warning lists, I just kind of lay out all the problematic things rant style, but there are so many I had to list it for this one.

Disclaimer: If it weren't for reading through a lot of reviews by trans and non-binary people who have these same issues with the book, I would have been hesitant in this review, given that the book is own-voices. But I'm not alone in feeling this way, and their perspectives made me realize there are other issues that I hadn't caught.
Profile Image for Inge.
347 reviews880 followers
January 3, 2017
You know when you’re reading a book and you’re trying to formulate some form of coherent thought so you can figure out what to write in your review? And you realise you’ve got ABSOLUTELY NOTHING?

Dreadnought is not that kind of book.

Dreadnought is the kind of book I would love to talk more about. It’s by no means a perfect book, but it’s an important one, especially in our time of day. The main character is transgender and queer, who just happens to stumble upon a crazy set of superpowers, and it’s the coolest thing in the world. Except for when she turns into a physical girl, the girl she always wanted to be – the girl she’s always been in her mind – and then that is the coolest thing in the world. I’m not quite sure which is cooler, but thankfully both things happened in the book so I don’t have to choose.

Danny being transgender isn’t the main part of the plot – the main plot is superheroes. But between all the Spandex and things that go boom, it still finds one of the most important transgender notions at heart: that genetics don’t equal destiny. Here’s Danny suddenly being able to deadlift trucks in her spare time, but she also has to deal with ignorant parents and losing her best friend. There were a lot of things that, I think, trans girls could really relate to and find comfort in.

The superheroes are just icing on the cake, really. It's reminiscent of Marvel and The Incredibles.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading it. Danny was a really likeable main character (she’s also very responsible – even when given superpowers, she still finds time to go to school); the writing was easy to read (even when my tired mind goes droop and doesn’t register anything); and there was plenty of action. I mean, the story starts with the biggest superhero of all time dying right in front of Danny, so, you know, that’s the kind of world we’re living in.

The reason I’m not giving it a higher rating is because it felt lacking in other aspects. The thing about action-packed books is they tend to dull my mind after a while and leave me gasping for some more story. I also would have liked to see more of the other superheroes. They stayed kind of two-dimensional (with a few exceptions, like Calamity and Doctor Impossible) and didn’t do anything for the story. Even in the final fight, Danny remained a one-man show, and I like to see protagonists needing help from friends and such. I like seeing that even all-powerful characters can’t do everything alone.

Thank you NetGalley / Diversion Books for providing me with a copy
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,601 reviews1,669 followers
June 7, 2017
Danny Tozer has always known she should have been born a girl, and we know this on the first page. The first scene of this book features her hiding in an alley, dressed otherwise like a male, and painting her toenails; this is the only outlet she has as a closeted trans fifteen year old in an emotionally abusive household (her dad is a colossal asshole). But everything changes when her toenail painting session is interrupted by a superhero/supervillain fight. Dreadnought, one of the most powerful superheroes, is shot and killed in front of her by the villainous Utopia, but he before he dies, he passes his mantle to Danny. And along with an array of numerous cool superpowers (super strength, flight, nearly impervious skin, super healing, etc.), the mantle also comes with a nifty side bonus: it grants its bearer with their ideal form. And for Danny, that means it turns her biologically female. This comes, understandably, as a surprise, but not an unpleasant one. In fact, Danny is ecstatic. The problem is how everyone else is going to react. Not only does she now have to deal with the consequences of her transition, but also with her new burden as a powerful superhero.

This book worked for me, overall. The craft of it wasn’t perfect (in fact, in places it was pretty awkward because: first book), the villains were also a tad too villainous, and Danny’s sidekick (or rather, Danny is her sidekick) Calamity annoyed me while she was in her superhero persona. That may just be my personal hang-up, though. I loathe fake old western accents and verbiage. I much preferred her as Sarah, Danny’s first friend after her transition. But for the most part, this book tackles the shades of grey and nuance of Danny’s situation admirably. The Dreadnought concept is well thought out, as is the superhero worldbuilding of her universe (it’s very detailed, and several things felt unique to this story). The book focuses as much on how becoming a biological female has affected her life as much as becoming a superhero, and how one informs the other. The superhero concept works as a nice metaphor on the heightened experiences real trans people go through.

I mentioned the villains, and I’m actually including her dad in that, although this could be a me-issue as well (this is an own voices novel, written by trans woman). He seemed a little too on the bad side, although I say this as someone who did not experience that kind of abuse growing up. I can only speak as to the way he was presented in the story, and to me, he seemed a tad over the top and inhuman. I also say that alongside the contradictory statement that I loved Danny’s inner conflict in responding to him and the terrible environment she was raised in. I don’t know, I guess I wish he was just a bit less inhuman acting. Maybe just a couple of small moments showing him as a person, to contrast with those moments when he loses it, or Danny remembering some sort of good moment with him in her past. Even something as small as that would have helped. It’s not that I think those moments were necessarily unbelievable, just that they were all we saw, and thus he was more of one-dimensional character than anything.

Aside from Danny’s father, I thought Daniels did a great job with the reactions of the other characters to Danny’s transition (both gender and superhero), from her best friend turning out to be a Nice Guy Creep, to her classmates, her teachers, her mother (who waffles back and forth), and even some members of the superhero team she gets an invite to, having inherited Dreadnought’s powers. Daniels really does a nice job contrasting Danny’s inner and outer power with the reactions of those around her, who keep insisting on defining her for themselves. The heightened reality of Danny literally becoming female worked to highlight the underlying assumptions and social structures surrounding Danny that work against her and the identity she is trying to discover for herself.

There is a sequel to this book due out later this summer, and I will definitely be checking it out, although I’m a bit nervous. My least favorite bits of this were actually the superhero plot things, and the most was the newness of her transition, which will necessarily fade. So I’m not sure how interesting I will find the sequel, if the gender issues aren’t equally present.

Read Harder Challenge 2017: A YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
Profile Image for sil ♡ the book voyagers.
1,029 reviews2,544 followers
February 5, 2017
Dreadnought is an #ownvoices superhero YA book. The MC is a lesbian trans girl and she suddenly gets powers when Dreadnought dies in front of her. She immerses into this superhero world where she finds allies and enemies. It reminded me of Boku no Hero Academia for obvious reasons though also the superhero names + One Punch Man with some type of heroes and how they looked.

I'm giving it 3 stars mainly because a character I just couldn't swallow + phrases + some things that happened at the end. But overall, this book was epic and fun to read (the ACTION SCENES ARE SO GOOD GUYS, please make this a movie) ~ plus girl friendship though I ship them 1000% I NEED A BOOK TWO I NEED MORE ADVENTURES please!!

Full review closer to release date.
Profile Image for Kogiopsis.
759 reviews1,467 followers
April 6, 2020
Reread as book #4 of my job refusing to implement work-from-home - and guess what? It's the last one! Just a few minutes after I finished this book, our account manager came in and announced we were going to start WFH, and now I've been safely at home for over a week!


This book is just... so damn good in so many ways and I sort of find it hard to articulate. I think this is partly because a lot of the excellence here comes from the way Danny's trans-ness integrates into other aspects of the storytelling, and the pitch-perfect way April Daniels uses classic superhero story elements (the call to adventure/discovery of powers, struggling with a sense of responsibility, trying to figure out where you fit when you're not quite like everyone else) as part both of Danny coming into her superpowers and into herself, her true self, for the first time.

As a cis person, I feel a little weird talking about this 'cause it's not really my lane, but the interplay between Danny-as-superhero and Danny-as-trans-woman is so integral to the book that it's hard to discuss it any other way. Danny's path towards claiming her identity as Dreadnought parallels her coming out to her family, and is equally fraught with risk. The actions of a transphobic character put both her at risk both as a superhuman and as a girl trying to go about her day. There are characters who treat her as a resource they can exploit for both reasons.

This book is... not shy about transphobia, and transmisogyny in particular, which can be really uncomfortable to read. At the same time, though, it's sadly believable, and honestly it makes Danny's heroism come through all the more strongly. The world treats her like crap in so many ways and yet... she still wants to do the right thing, even by those who treat her the worst. Even when her worst impulses are deeply justified, she resists them. She's struggling with all the normal teenage confusion and THEN some, and yet she still has a strong moral compass, stronger than many adults around her. She's not perfect, but god does she strive.

I think the thing that this book succeeds in the most is that odd paradox of writing: that the more specific a character's experiences are, the more generally relatable they can feel. My adolescence was nothing like Danny's, and yet her struggle to believe that she could ever be good enough felt incredibly true and universal to me. She's a superhero who can see the fabric of reality - almost as far from the average real teenager as you can get - and yet her story is such a fundamental coming-of-age story nonetheless. It's fun, and it's full of heart, and I'm looking forward to finally getting my rear in gear to read the second one!
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,219 reviews165 followers
February 10, 2017

As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it.

Danny’s life is turned upside down when he inherits Dreadnought’s mantel, which turns him into the girl he always was inside. All is not however as easy as it looks and superpowers do not resolve everything, especially prejudice and abuse.

Daniels doesn’t just give us a transgender/superhero coming-of-age story with an amazing main character that is only too easy to like, but a whole cast of very strong females - my favourites being Calamity and Doc Impossible.

Loved it and cannot wait for the sequel.
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,906 reviews1,235 followers
August 22, 2017
Is there a name for the situation where you keep thinking you like a certain genre, but you’re almost unfailingly critical of every book in that genre you read? That’s me and the superhero novel. I want to like superhero novels, desperately. Superheroes fascinate me. But most superhero novels I’ve read don’t quite capture whatever ineffable quality of superheroics that I’m looking for. (To be fair, I also don’t read superhero comics or watch much superhero television/movies, Supergirl aside, so maybe I’m just delusional.) So I end up reading superhero novels and then feeling let down, and it’s not entirely the fault of those books.

Turns out that Dreadnought, by April Daniels, is the superhero novel I’ve been waiting for.

Small disclaimer the first: I applied and was approved for this book through NetGalley, but by the time the approval came through my pre-order copy of the book showed up, so I read the hard copy anyway. If you would like to send me free copies of books I’ve pre-ordered in time for me to read the physical copy anyway, hit me with up with a private message. I swear, one day I’ll figure out how to NetGalley properly.

Small disclaimer the second: I am cisgender, so my opinions are biased from that perspective. Here are some reviews by trans, non-binary, and multigender writers for your consideration: Nicole Field, Polenth Blake, Cheryl Morgan, Morgan Doherty, and Avery (thanks to this blog post for the heads up). They’ve given me some good food-for-thought regarding the explanations behind Danny’s transformation, and some problematic ableist moments, but have also reaffirmed my conclusion that this is a kickass superhero novel with a fantastic sense of humour.

So Danny Tozer is a transgender girl who is hiding her identity from her family (and everyone else), barely surviving by expressing herself by painting her toenails in secret. Dreadnought, arguably the world’s most powerful superhero—superheroes are just a thing in this universe—dies in front of her, and she inherits his “mantle” of powers. In addition to giving Danny superpowers, the mantle also transforms her body so that it matches her internal gender identity. You can imagine that her family isn’t too thrilled about this, and while Danny is ecstatic by the change, it has numerous consequences she spends the rest of the novel learning to deal with.

I was looking forward to Dreadnought just from the description (which is what motivated me to pre-order the book just after finding out about it). I didn’t expect it to be so funny. It’s Daniels’ humour that first made me suspect I’d be giving this book five stars:

“What’s this?”

“A suppository.”


“Shove that up your butt.”


“It’s for science.”



“You are going to buy me pizza.”


“A lot of pizza.”

I don’t visualize things when I read, right? So long, florid descriptions of characters and scenes and battle sequences leave little impression on me. But snappy dialogue between Danny and Doc Impossible? Yes, please! I’ll take me some more of that.

The thing is, this humour is a necessary tonic to what might otherwise be interpreted as an often bleak, very difficult read for someone who has gone through experiences similar to Danny’s. On the one hand, you have Doc Impossible, who is supportive and intersectional as shit:

“I guess I just thought I was finally a real girl.”

“Hey! None of that!” She takes me by the shoulders. “You think it’s a uterus that makes a woman? Bullshit. You feel like you’re a girl, you live it, it’s part of you? Then you’re a girl. That’s the end of it, no quibbling. You’re as real a girl as anyone. An you really need to learn to express your anger better.”

On the other hand, there are numerous characters who represent that difficulty of existing as an openly trans person, even one who has superpowers. Danny constantly gets misgendered, from her family to her best friend to another superhero, Graywytch, who is a strident TERF from the get-go. Dreadnought comes about as close as I can possibly get to understanding how the constant microagression of misgendering can be wearing and debilitating for someone. And Daniels makes it clear that even though Danny lucked out and side-stepped the whole transition quandary and now also has superpowers, none of this solves the institutional transphobia of our society.

Indeed, Daniels portrays the whole “teenager suddenly finds herself with near-invincible superpowers” extremely … well, realistic is not the correct word—believably, I guess? In the world of Dreadnought, people with powers (metahumans, is the term) are actually fairly common, though only a small proportion of them have the juice and desire to become “capes”. Inheriting the Dreadnought mantle pretty much guarantees Danny a spot at the cape table—when she turns eighteen. Until then, she gets stuck in the kiddie zone—and she does not like that at all. So after being told not to go caping on the side, you better believe that’s exactly what she does. Teenagers, eh?

There are times when I groaned a little at the way Danny and Sarah handled their independent little investigation. Sometimes it seems like they make choices simply because it is better for the plot that way. Still, I very much enjoyed the relationship between Danny and Sarah. I can appreciate how Daniels characterizes Danny not just as trans but a lesbian, and that her feelings for Sarah are a complicated mixture of admiration, awe, and attraction—but I’m also glad that Daniels resists the urge to make this anywhere near a straightforward romance. Danny has enough going as it is to mix love into the equation.

Danny and Sarah are great, though. I love the backstory Daniels gives Sarah, and that Sarah (who is Black) calls Danny out on her white privilege even while being supportive of her trans identity. Sarah provides essential emotional support, rooting for Danny to take on the name as well as the mantle of Dreadnought—but she is also hotheaded, impulsive, too quick to action; Danny offers a great, more contemplative counterbalance. This dynamic works really well, and I can’t wait to see what happens with them in the next book.

Really, the relationships between Danny and most of the characters in this book are just so good. Take her parents, for instance. In addition to being transphobic, Danny’s father is just outright abusive. He promotes an unrealistic standard of macho/hyper-masculinity that Danny can’t conform to, even if she were a boy. Transgender issues aside, this is a household that is not a safe or nurturing environment for any kid. And Danny’s mom, while much less overt, is not any more supportive. I hit page 187, and my heart pretty much broke:

Mom leans back in her chair. "It wasn't so bad, was it? You were growing up so well."

"It was torture! You know what I was doing when Dreadnought--when that supervillain attacked me?" I don't believe it. It's like she's wilfully misunderstanding it. They never take my word for it; why can't they take my word for it? "I was painting my toenails behind the mall because that's the only way I could keep sane. Does that seem normal to you, Mom? Does that seem healthy?"

"I just ... I don't see you as a girl," she says. "Even now, even looking like that. You were going to be such a fine young--"

"I was going to die." The pencil snaps between my fingers, one end cartwheeling off across the table and onto the floor. "And I am a girl. Even if you don't see it."

There is so much to unpack here. The pain, and the anger, and the way once again Danny has to restrain herself from letting it break to the surface now that she has so much strength. This exchange really drives home something we cisgender people often forget about the experience of being transgender, namely, that the constant misgendering, erasure, and transphobia is literally killing transgender people. Moreover, this quote, and similar moments throughout the book, drive home the self-doubt and misplaced guilt that Danny herself feels about her gender identity. She has internalized a lot of her parents’ disappointment in her gender expression, and while she has no intention of reversing what the Dreadnought mantle has wrought, it doesn’t change her lived experience. I know that some people, both trans and cis, have pointed out the handwaving convenience of Danny’s transition into literally a Superhot Superwoman, and they have a point. That being said, Daniels doesn’t miss a chance to remind us that this doesn’t magically take away Danny’s pain.

So far I’ve just been talking about the characters in this book and not so much about the superhero plot. Keep in mind that Dreadnought is less than 300 pages—there is a lot of character development going on here for a slim book!

The superhero story is no less impressive than the characterization. As I alluded to above, Danny strikes out on her own while mulling over how much of a superhero she actually wants to be, and whether she can affiliate herself with the Legion Pacifica when they talk down to her and host a TERF. She and Sarah go after Utopia, murderer of the previous Dreadnought, together. The way Daniels works this plot in parallel to Danny’s adjustment to her changes in her plainclothes life is quite deft. There’s some good investigation here, combined with plenty of action. Daniels is careful not to make Danny too overpowered, and I love the descriptions of how Danny sees/uses Dreadnought’s abilities. The disagreements that Danny and Sarah have regarding the best ways to proceed are nice philosophical diversions, too.

And then we hit the climax, and the rest of this book is just explosive.

Danny takes on some challenging bad guys and engages in her first real, big Dreadnought-level challenge. And then she goes to the Legion Tower, and without spoiling anything, let’s just say that Daniels manages to utterly devastate us. I kind of predicted a few of the twists, thanks I’ll say to foreshadowing much earlier in the book, but some of them were new. And the level of … carnage … is impressive. If you’re thinking about reading this book but are holding off only because you want to know if it contains a nail-biting, race-against-the-clock, down-to-the-wire finale … then yes, yes it does.

So buckle up, because this book starts off strong and just keeps getting better. Seriously, after the intense climax, the last two pages still manage to beat that for pure emotional drama. Let’s just say that Danny pulls a Tony Stark in Iron Man, and it’s more of a Crowning Moment of Awesome than anything else she does in this entire book—and that includes saving an airplane single-handedly or, you know, saving the whole world from a cyborg supervillain with delusions of godhead.

Dreadnought is a debut novel. It’s not perfect. But it’s finally a superhero novel I can not only enjoy but adore. My major criticism is that it is too short, and that having read it so soon after its release I now have to wait far too long to read the sequel. I can’t wait to learn what Daniels has next in store for Danny, Sarah, the Doc, et al, both in terms of the threat of Nemesis and Danny’s newfound fame. Because this is not just a positive portrayal of a transgender lesbian superhero who saves the world, but it’s just the beginning. And I can only hope there are teens out there who read this and see that they, too, can be heroes.

My reviews of the Nemesis series:

Creative Commons BY-NC License
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 73 books2,498 followers
May 19, 2017
maybe 4.5 stars. This book begins in a challenging way - 15-year old Danny is a trans girl, hiding behind a mall to put on toenail polish, the only revelation of her true self that she dares try, with her volatile father and school situation. When suddenly, a superhero/supervillain battle erupts overhead. A minute later, the dying superhero Dreadnought falls at her feet, and passes her his powers in his last moments. And along with them, the transformation of her body to her personal ideal. Which in this case means beautifully female, at least on the outside.

That might've been badly bungled, in some hands. Because the idea of handing a trans kid a painless, lovely, exterior-transformation wish-fulfillment might seem like betrayal of many issues trans folk face. In this case, Danny's transphobic father, wimpy mother, douchy best friend, sudden shift, and the medical probing she undergoes, provide obstacles and limits, that keep this from being too easy for her. I thought the balance was pretty good, removing some issues while then highlighting others. Because it took the focus off the physical body dysphoria, it allowed the focus to shift to Danny discovering who she is and how much personal strength and integrity she can muster.

I liked that Danny is a lesbian superhero, and that her interest is caught by a strong, independent girl with skills of her own. We need more YA with lesbian characters. These two have a nicely tentative relationship that begins as friends, and is barely starting to be more at the end of this installment. Some big personal issues will make their futures rough, and I hope to see them negotiating rocky shores in the next installment.

The story moves along at a good clip, with a fun balance between superheroes and reality. Again, it's always a choice where to put that blending point, in urban fantasy. I've read superhero stories where the only damage happens to buildings and bystanders always survive - a comic book level that results in a lighter story. (The excellent adult M/M Love for the Cold-Blooded, or The Part-Time Evil Minion's Guide to Accidentally Dating a Superhero is like that.) Or you can do really dark, where the superhero powers are a light layer on painful reality (like some Batman stories.) This book takes a middle ground. Superheroes are powerful, but not invincible. Gray-capes live and act in the space between the black and white. Government politics play a role in what the Legion takes on. It mostly works.

There are a few gaps in the world-building, perhaps inevitably when sewing these components together. But for the most part, I could go along for the ride without too much skepticism holding me back. I did like that, despite inheriting superpowers, Danny is still just a 15 year old girl. She might still crumple under teasing or bullying or her father's transphobic anger. She might act out irresponsibly. She's not transformed all the way through, and we get to see some painful realities through her eyes. But she is, at heart, the kind of girl who should be entrusted with superpowers and I fell for her POV.

I'm a cis woman, so my take on the trans elements are my own, from the outside. We're reading this as a Book of the Month in the Transgender Fiction group, and I look forward to seeing what members there think of the blend. This book is fine for younger readers, with a warning for some quite strong transphobic language and events, from antagonists including the father. Recommended reading, as a unique, fun, occasionally painful, story with some real things to say about gender, responsibility, family, and growing up.
Profile Image for K..
3,595 reviews1,001 followers
February 7, 2017
So here's the thing: I desperately wanted to love this book. I mean, a world with superheroes where a trans-teen is in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up a) becoming a superhero and b) as a result of a), getting the body that she's always wanted? AMAZING. Seriously. Amazing.

Especially when you add in the fact that it's Own Voices.

However. There was SO much transphobia and so much abusive language towards transpeople in the course of this book. Danny's father has been verbally abusive throughout the course of Danny's life, but once she takes on the mantle of Dreadnought and presents as female, the abuse only gets worse. Danny's best friend is initially thrilled but only because Danny is now a new girl for him to hit on. When Danny's all "Um. No?", said best friend starts throwing slurs and abuse around left and right.

Add in mixed reactions from this world's equivalent of The Avengers (some are all "You're trans? Cool. So about your uniform..." while other are like "THIS IS UNNATURAL AND MUST BE STOPPED"), and...yeah.

Graywytch was BY FAR the most godawful character in the entire book for me. She repeatedly misgenders Danny and uses her deadname. She implies that Danny can't possibly be female because she doesn't have periods. She LITERALLY DOXXES DANNY, telling her parents about Danny's secret identity.

And then she tells Danny that "I don't blame you any more than I would blame an ebola victim. Society has fed your generation so many toxic ideas about gender, it's only natural some of you would crack. But that doesn't mean you aren't dangerous. It doesn't mean you shouldn't be expunged. You reify the holocaust of gender, you invade my sex, and you poison my sisters by your simple presence. You cannot possibly understand what it means to be a woman, and you rape us all when you try."

And then she casts a spell on Danny so that Danny can't reveal any of this to anyone.

So yeah. I loved the concept of this. I really loved Danny mastering her superhero powers and making friends with Calamity and fighting evil. I even liked how conflicted Danny's mother was - how she loves suddenly having a daughter but mourns for the son she's lost. And I did like all of that stuff a HELL of a lot. (Plus, that cover is GORGEOUS.)

But the transphobia just made me incredibly uncomfortable, Graywytch made me nauseated, and I'm honestly not sure I would recommend this to a trans teen, because it's reinforcing so many negative and dated ideas. Yes, plenty of people have those ideas in reality. Yes, trans teens have to deal with transphobia in reality. But surely that's all the more reason to spare them this much anti-trans sentiment in what they read for pleasure??


In short: There was a lot to love in this book. But there was also a lot that upset me. So.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,394 reviews824 followers
February 26, 2017
3.5 stars. This was an important book with a serious theme: society's attitudes to being transgender. Although in some ways this is a wish fulfilment story, even in this context, and maybe because of it, the phobic and bigoted attitudes (and abusive in the father's case) seem even worse. I can't imagine what it must be like to feel you are in the wrong body and have to fight for the right to become who you really are when there isn't a superhero to help the process along.
The superhero story itself was fun and the action scenes were great but world building was patchy as was the character development for some of the side characters.
Profile Image for Sara ➽ Ink Is My Sword.
561 reviews412 followers
Want to read
July 1, 2018
I can't finish this book right now, I am not enjoying it. Not because is bad, but because I am not in a sci-fi/ fantasy mood at all.

💭Pre-reading thoughts:

Trans Superheroine... I AM IN.⚡️
Profile Image for Sebastian.
551 reviews66 followers
February 26, 2017
2.5 stars

I acknowledge the good intentions of writing a diverse superhero story with a transgender protagonist but I found this book neither convincing as a superhero novel nor as a contemporary.

I wasn't exactly bored while reading this but I often had a feeling I was reading a fan fiction to Brandon Sanderson's Reckoners series (there even was a character named Calamity!) instead of a professional novel. The pacing was okay and there was always something happening but I often struggled to care about the protagonist's story and I also had hoped for a bit more depth to the transgender aspect which I found sometimes a bit superficial. The same goes for almost all the side characters who were rather flat and not very interesting.

The superhero story was the most disappointing aspect to me though because it took the author almost until the end of the book to build an actual case and when I compare the worldbuilding to Sanderson's Reckoners series (which just seems obvious regarding the parallels) "Dreadnought" comes out on the short end in almost every aspect. Overall I don't think this is a series I'm going to continue.
Profile Image for Leah.
1,052 reviews58 followers
February 7, 2017
"Suddenly, I'm worried about getting fat, which is something that hasn't happened to me before."

"I'm just as much a girl as you are."
"Oh really? She leans forward, steeples her fingers. "Do you even know how to put in a tampon?"

yeah, no.

SUCH high hopes for this one and it fell flat. How could a superhero book be so boring? The best way for me to describe Dreadnought is that it read like a series of barely-connected daydream-esque fantasies. You know the ones where you finally tell your boss/teacher/family member/etc just what you really think? Or how you become a small town hero after saving a school bus full of little kids? That's exactly what reading this book felt like. In the first chapter Danny becomes the new Dreadnought and magically turns into the girl she always knew she was. From there she comes to blows with her BFF (because now he just can't stop staring at her ~amazingly massive boobs and perfectly sculpted figure~), randomly saves 300+ people from a blazing airplane, stands up to her father (his character was totally absurd - I guess the story needed a Bad Guy), etc etc.

The above tampon remark is said by another superhero. An adult, by the way. Danny, 15, and another 15 year old casually stroll into a bar and no one bats an eye. It's not until 72% that the supervillian (who killed Dreadnought back in the first chapter) shows up again, only to disappear a few pages later. In the middle of, you know, trying to save the world, there's a multi-page lesson on make-up.

I truly get the message behind the book, but it was extremely heavy-handed. Characters are either good (aka pro-LBGT) or bad (WILDLY insulting, hurls every slur and derogatory term imaginable). There's no middle ground.

For the fully review and more, head over to The Pretty Good Gatsby!
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,548 reviews2,934 followers
April 28, 2017
I picked this book up after my friend recommended it to me (and after seeing the gorgeous cover too). I knew as soon as I heard it had superheroes, trans main characters, and lesbians that this was a YA SFF book I needed to pick up, and I am so glad I did becuase it was so fun, and the representation seemed pretty good to me (although I'm by no means an expert).

I loved the concept of this book. A young character called Danny believes totally that she's female, however, she has been born male and despite knowing she's in the wrong body, she's from a family who would not support her choice to change. In comes Dreadnaught: superhero extraordinaire. Dreadnaught, however, is not having a good day and he's killed right in front of Danny. He passes on his powers to Danny and not only does Danny get awesome (but terrifying) powers, she's also transformed by the magic into the girl she always believed she was.

What I loved about this read was the pure fun of the story. I really feel like the balance here is great between a superb story about teens dealing with magic powers and puberty, but then we also have an excellent trans and lesbian storyline which is given just as much attention and credit as the other. I really like that it didn't lean too heavily one way or another becuase it made the story feel so much more fluid and exciting to learn not only about the 'magical' elements, but also about the deeper personal issues and problems Danny faced.

I read this as part of the #CosyReadingNight that happened last week and I really enjoyed it becuase I flew through the story and felt totally hooked into it. I think this is for sure a book I would recommend to any YA reader and anyone who wants to see more representation of diversity in YA SFF becuase it ticked both of those boxes for me. 4*s overall :D
Profile Image for Jenna.
110 reviews90 followers
March 19, 2017
What a wonderful way to spend a day! Danny was such a lovingly-drawn character that I found it impossible not to fall in love with her myself. While the book was a bit bleak in places, and Danny certainly needed her super-strength to carry some of the burdens she was handed, this was still an empowering story that ended on a high note.

I recently read Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee, and in some ways this book reminded me of that one. Both took place in worlds populated by superheroes, both were about teens whose voices we don't often hear in YA fiction, and both featured excellent characterizations. While Not Your Sidekick was a little stronger with its world-building, I felt as though Dreadnought did a better job with its plot and pacing; it managed to surprise me on several occasions, there was an abundance of emotion, the tension peaked at just the right time, and the conclusion was very satisfying.

I also loved that Dreadnought was just loaded with strong women: heroes, villains, police officers-- they were absolutely everywhere. There was even a strong hero who was such a horror show that I felt she was worse than the supervillain (who, incidentally, was plotting to murder the entire human race!) Graywytch, you are the worst! The worst. The. Worst. (theworst.)

But speaking of strong women, Danny herself was an incredible lead. Written in first-person, we really get to spend a lot of time in her head, and the range of emotions that ran through her as she handled her life--dealing with an unsupportive family, getting used to a new body, figuring out her superpowers, handling sudden expectations and responsibilities--created a real bond for me with the character. If this story had just been about Danny, with no mention of superpowers at all, I think I'd still be just as excited about the sequel.

As far as romance goes, while Danny does identify as a lesbian in the story, there was no real romance to speak of in the first book. There were a few scenes that hinted at a possible future relationship with her friend and partner Calamity, but more than anything, this was a superhero's origin story. And a very good one, at that.

I really enjoyed this book.

4.5 stars, rounded up. And please, for the love of all that is good and holy, let something terrible happen to Graywytch in book 2.
Profile Image for Aleksandra.
1,388 reviews
June 6, 2017
A superhero novel we deserve!

Dreadnought is wonderful YA superhero novel about a 15 year old transgender girl Danny who gets super powers after an accident and the adventures begin.

I enjoyed reading the book! Danny is such a likable character. She's round and complex, she's brave and truly heroic. A great role model for kids and teens, in my opinion.

I feel like the plot was mostly revolved around Danny, her insecurities, struggles as s transgender girl and a lesbian, finding her strength and proving to herself how awesome she is (she so is, go girl!). Dong get me wrong, there is plenty of fighting, butt kicking and action! Personally, I tend to pay more attention to characters while reading. Danny is awesome, her new friend and fellow hero Sarah/Calamity is great too. I'm crossing my fingers that there'll be some romance later on between them!

The novel masterfully deals both with supervillain's villainous plots and transphobia, homophobia & other daily issues. The story is well-balanced and the narration flows effortlessly. Graywitch and Danny's parents represent these toxic harmful ideas that people still have even in 2017 (yes, trans girls are girls; no, transgender women do not threaten your womanhood @ terfs; no, your kid being trans isn't selfish or an act to harm the family @ transphobic parents etc I can't believe it still is a ~controversial~ statement, but anyway).

Dreadnought is an impressive debut and #ownvoices novel with great characters, solid plot and so much promise for more awesomeness to come in the sequel.
I'll definitely read Sovereign and I highly recommend you guys to read Dreadnought.
Profile Image for CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian.
1,117 reviews1,343 followers
August 23, 2018
4.5 stars! So wonderful! What a great concept thoughtfully executed, and to great entertainment value! Danny is a closeted trans girl when the superhero Dreadnought dies in front of her, passing on his powers. Her body is instantly brought to its ideal form: not only does she now have superpowers, her body matches her gender.

What follows is action-packed supervillain fighting but also tough and real stuff about a teen facing transphobia. It's moving but also heartbreaking to have to see this 15-year-old stand up to the TERF superhero who's supposed to be one of the good guys as well as her extremely unsupportive, transphobic parents. Not to mention her best guy friend who goes all sexist 'nice guy' on her. But ... her growing friendship with a fellow teen girl superhero is very fun to watch as is her lesbian mom superhero mentor Doc Impossible. I will be proposing to Doc Impossible if we ever meet.

I also really liked how Daniels weaved in some cool physics / philosophical stuff about the fabric of reality and how Danny's new powers work. So cool!!

Can't wait to read the next one!
Profile Image for Lost Planet Airman.
1,234 reviews69 followers
November 3, 2018
A proper review of this is going to take me a lot of time and mental energy and emotional energy -- I think I owe my church friends who may eventually read my words, an explanation of why I like this transgender character and story so much. And I think I owe my liberal friends and family the opposite explanation, of why I won't yet take everything LGBTQIA+ as my own agenda.

But don't abandon me yet, Gentle Reader! In the meantime, I refer you to my GR friend Allison Hurd's amazing review, which says 99% for my feelings for this story (with some extras; I'm not a "hug her and tell her it's okay and see if she's a metallics or sparkles kinda girl" kind of person...)

Seasonal Reading Challenge Fall 2018 Task 10.1 - These ARE the Droids You're Looking For: the cyborg codenamed Utopia
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