Dreadnought is the first book in the Nemesis series by April Daniels. We follow the story of Danielle, a superhero who just happens to be transgender. This is a world where superheroes are a part of everyday life and when Danny is confronted by a dying Dreadnought, one of the world’s best superheroes, it isn’t long until her life is completely changed when with his dying breath, he gives her his powers and changes her from the boy she was born into the girl she has always been. Faced with her new appearance and blossoming superpowers, Danielle is drawn into the world of heroes and villains alongside her fellow class-member/masked vigilante, Sarah/Calamity as they work together to stop Utopia, a super-villain hell bent on controlling the world.
Fifteen-year-old Danny will take your heart and then proceed to jump all over it. She broke my heart, she made me smile, she made me feel strong just by how positive she could be even when so many bad things were happening. Her dad is unable to accept her transition, immediately finding ways to ‘fix’ her whilst shouting abuse at her and every slur under the sun so I must point out trigger warnings for transphobia. Her mum stands on the sidelines, too frightened to intervene and even fellow superhero, Graywytch constantly misgenders and dead-names her. The one thing that remains positive is Danny. She takes every situation and tries to make the most out of it, even when she wants to give up, she finds the strength to keep on going and not because she’s a superhero, but because that’s the type of girl she is.
The entire cast of characters are diverse – Danny being trans and a lesbian, one character being an sentient android and Calamity being Latina. This, primarily, is the story of the strength behind women and it is their story and although there is no romance, there is a hell of a lot of female friendships. Although this is a story about superheroes, Danny is still an average teenager. She goes to school, she worries about homework and friendships, all whilst saving the world. She experiences what it is like to be a girl on more than just the inside when she experiences blatant sexism from her ex-best friend who assumed because she now ‘looked’ like a girl, they should probably start dating. However, Danny just spends this book shutting everyone down and I had to stop myself from cheering each time.
If I had one problem, it was that the author tended to info-dump a lot of the ‘science’ parts to the point where I had no idea what was going on and found myself skipping through it, whilst still being able to follow the story. Maybe it is because I’m not the most scientific of people, but for me it just seemed like too much thrown at you all at once. The ending of the book is truly like a movie, the action was fast-paced and had me sitting on the edge of my seat.
The best thing about this book is that I wouldn’t just recommend it to people who are fans of superheroes but also to people interested in the trans community or just want to read a coming-of-age story as I truly believe Danny grows so much throughout the course of this relatively short novel. She faces everything head-on and makes light of every situation with a joke – even to the point of asking for food after an epic battle which is what I would probably do. Her relationship with Calamity and Doctor Impossible was a highlight for me – they are three very difficult people but come together again and again and portraying the strength in female friendships. There are so many questions I have and backstory I’d love so I cannot wait for the next book. Read this book, guys. It is fun, important and revolutionary.
Love, Angharad @