Book Review: Dreadnought (Nemesis, #1) by April Daniels

30279514Title: Dreadnought
Author: April Daniels
Publisher: Diversion Publishing
Pub Date: January 24, 2017
Format: Kindle eBook
Pages: 276
Source: NetGalley
Genre(s): YA, Fantasy, LGBT
Rating: ★★★
Goodreads || Buy on Amazon


Synopsis 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.


My review:

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

“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.”

Let’s all take a moment to appreciate that quote, because damn, is it ever powerful.

Meet Danny! She is transgender, a lesbian, and as of late… a superhero?

One night, while Danny is on one of her top-secret missions across town (to buy nail polish and paint her toenails), she stumbles upon the world’s greatest superhero: Dreadnought. Then he dies, and suddenly all of his superpowers are being transferred over to her. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, this transference of power somehow turns Danny into a girl, physically! Now she looks exactly the way she’s always felt on the inside.

This sounds like it will be super empowering and uplifting, right? Wrong. Her dad is an ignorant, homophobic dick who is a living example of why hypermasculinity is so damaging during childhood (or adulthood, for that matter). Her supposed “best friend” is an insensitive pervert who acts as if she owes him a date (disgusting). And her spineless mother has done a terrible job of showing Danny what it means to be a woman–to be strong. Basically, Danny can only count on herself. Here she is, in this new body (that she’s always wanted), and now the whole world can see on the outside who she really is. She is a girl. She is strong. And she won’t let anyone take that away from her.

Throw in some quirky side characters (who also have superpowers), some underdeveloped villains, and a fictional town that hasn’t really been fleshed out yet, and you’ve got yourself a mediocre superhero novel with the potential for something more. There are good capes, and bad capes, and gray capes. But sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s on the side of Good or Evil. A lot of them are in between… especially the so-called superheroes.

In any case, I don’t think you need to know much else about the plot or characters. This was an interesting read. It is very comicbook-esque, if you’re into that sort of thing. Danny offered some great representation, but I am not transgender, so I can’t say for certain if this representation was completely accurate. If it counts for anything, her character did seem very authentic and brought up some very important issues. Namely, how people can be completely uneducated assholes when it comes to understanding anyone who isn’t straight and heterosexual. I almost wish that there was more of a focus on the emotional issues and character development rather than the action scenes and bad guys, but I guess that would defeat the whole point of this being a novel about superheroes, right? I don’t know. Danny was already a superhero in my eyes long before she became Dreadnought. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in a family like hers.

Overall, this book has a very interesting premise but I feel like a lot of the potential was wasted on cheesy fight scenes! On the other hand, I’m happy to hear that there will be a sequel. I’d really like to see Danny grow from a strong girl into a strong woman!

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