Book Review

REVIEW: Dreadnought

September 30, 2019
Dreadnought Book Cover
Dreadnought Nemesis #1 Young Adult Diversion Paperback 280

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.

My Thoughts:

I came across this book in my recent search for good transgirl YA, the same search that turned up “If I Was Your Girl.” Luckily for me, this one turned out much more positive. Here we are presented with a much younger character just starting out her journey. Through superhero magic, Danny is able to give herself, her ideal body.

Somehow despite this magical element Dreadnought remains a trans novel and Danny still faces plenty of friction in her new life. Parents who don’t understand and just want their child back how she was before. A downright transphobic character who says some shocking things to Danny.

I really identified with Danny so very completely, across the age gap and the fantasy world I felt connected to her story like I was being seen on the page. I loved the way that having the perfect “passable” body didn’t cause Danny’s problems to just go away. This wasn’t just a book about a transgirl, this was a book for trans girls everywhere.

I did have a few minor issues with the book and that made it not 5 stars. Mostly they were all structural and writing issues. I felt the pacing was a tad off, and frustrating at times. Most significantly Danny didn’t feel 15, she didn’t act 15, I would have placed her more along with the 18 -20 age range as did the side character Calamity.

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.

Danny Tozer – Dreadnought by April Daniels

I’ve read a lot of criticism over how Danny’s ideal body is basically that of a supermodel. I felt that this gets addressed in the book rather well early on talking about the pressures and images that get put upon us by magazines and media. Also, I think that it’s important to remember that Danny is 15, how many of us wouldn’t have chosen the body of a supermodel at 15 if given a chance.

Another criticism I read a lot out there was around Danny being more emotional after her “transition” which people were saying was misogynistic. WHich I found frustrating and IMHO clear that these cis reviewers had never met a trans woman who had transitioned. It is a fact that estrogen can indeed make you more emotional, I know plenty of trans women who talk about being shocked at how often they cry now. Just as I know plenty of trans men who talk about how frustrating it can be that sometimes crying seems impossible.

It’s not a perfect book, but its wonderful story and own voices rep totally made up for a few flaws. I really cannot wait to read the rest of the series and hope as often the case the wrinkles get ironed out along the way.

I Give Dreadnought 4 out of 5 Stars

Dreadnought by April Daniels was published 24 January 2017 by Diversion Books. You can purchase your own copy at Mighty Ape, Whitcoulls, Booktopia, or wherever you like to purchase books.

*Note I have recently after much consideration decided that I can no longer in good faith link to Amazon or Book Depository. Please check out your local bookstore or shop locally.

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  • Reply lydiaschoch October 9, 2019 at 6:31 am

    Dreadnought sounds like such a good read.

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