Title: Dreadnought (Nemisis #1)
Author: April Daniels
Publisher: Diversion Books
Format: E-ARC from Netgalley
Release Date: 24th January 2016
Description from Goodreads:
Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her 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 between her father’s dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny’s first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined.
She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Diversion Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the opinions expressed in this review.
This book had me invested from the very first page, told in the first person, everything is experienced through our heroine, Danny, who identifies as a transgender lesbian. Her inner dialogue really adds a connection to her character, her experiences, and the story as a whole. The writing is easy to get into resulting in an immersive experience. I read the first half of this in one sitting in what felt like no time at all. Dreadnought blends contemporary elements with the superhero genre. At times the superhero elements take a back seat to everything else, this is where we see some fantastic character development.
First and foremost, Danny’s sudden transformation has effectively outed her as transgender to everyone, there is no more hiding. Not everyone is supportive or kind and she faces a lot of prejudice. I’m not trans, so it’s not my place to say much about how realistic this representation is, but this book is #ownvoices, and the way everything is written feels very raw and real. What makes this book so effective is that you experience everything through Danny’s eyes, including the toxic effects of transphobia, and being misgendered. This is a novel that has clearly been carefully thought out, down to the sexism Danny experiences with her new appearance. The representation of women in the media (airbrushing models and such) is also discussed.
The superhero side builds a detailed world, with an altered history and a hierarchy of super powered individuals. These elements are fun, and familiar. I don’t want to give away too many details, but Danny has a choice to make about what she wants to do with her powers. She meets the local Superhero team, the Legion early on, she also meets a vigilante known as Outlaw, a girl the same age as Danny. A big part of the story is Danny trying to figure out where she belongs and whether she wants to take on the title of Dreadnought.
One thing I loved about this book is the friendship that develops between Danny and Outlaw, who takes Danny under her wing. It’s always nice to see a strong friendship between female characters – to often are women portrayed as rivals.
I don’t want to say too much more because spoilers, but this book brings so much to light. While I highly recommend this book, I am going to include a trigger warning for transphobia, homophobia and emotional abuse, if any of these are a trigger for you then proceed with caution. Otherwise, this is a highly worthwhile read, both in terms of diverse representation and as a great superhero story, I couldn’t give this book anything less than 5 stars.
Below are some links to some places where you can buy this book, totally not sponsored, but I really recommend checking out this book!