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Dreadnought: Nemesis - Book One by April…
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Dreadnought: Nemesis - Book One

by April Daniels

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655183,505 (4.41)5
  1. 00
    Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee (Spookums)
    Spookums: Another great ownvoices YA superhero novel.
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A trans superhero is cool, and Danny is an appealing character. I think I would have liked this a lot better if it weren't told in present tense. Add in that I'm not a big fan of superheroes, and this book isn't really for me. ( )
  readinggeek451 | Aug 24, 2017 |
Wow! I love this book. So true to life and funny. Daniels does an expert job of humanizing the superheroes. ( )
  2wonderY | May 23, 2017 |
This book is really excellent. It's great to see a trans superhero, and the protagonist here is very well written. She deals with a lot of real-life problems, not all of which have to do with her being trans. Her abusive parents, and her finding out that her BFF was a misogynistic douchebag, were also handled very well.

Danny's character arc in this book was compelling from start to finish, and I'm excited to see what she does next. I also loved the characters of Calamity and Doc Impossible, and hope to see more of them in the future. ( )
  lavaturtle | Apr 23, 2017 |
Trigger warning: Transphobia, emotional abuse

Dreadnought is an #OwnVoices YA superhero novel about a young lesbian trans girl.

Fifteen-year old Danny Tozer is secretly painting her toenails behind the mall when two meta-humans get in a fight right in front of her. Thus she’s the only person around when Dreadnought, the greatest superhero of them all dies… and so she receives his powers. But not only does she get superpowers, her body also transforms into the one she’s always wanted. Now everyone knows that she’s a girl. Unfortunately, this includes her emotionally abusive father, who’s always tried to make her into a “manly man.” Oh, and the super-villain who killed Dreadnought is still running around. Danny’s life just got complicated.

Dreadnought was a lot darker than I expected. After her superpowered transition, Danny faces a ton of transmisogyny. For one, her best friend now feels entitled to date her even as he’s being creepy. For another, her parents are just awful. She’s got all these self esteem issues as a result of her father, who’s constantly berating her. But there’s even another character who gives him a run for Worst Ever! There’s this TERF super-heroine who is just the worst. Like I don’t know if I have ever hated a character that much. Danny just goes through so much, including having all sorts of awful slurs hurled at her. There were parts I had trouble reading, and I’m cis.

But Danny was probably my favorite part of the book. Even as she’s dealing with people being despicable to her, she still manages to come into her own and save the day. A lot of the time she’s uncertain, and she’s just learning how to believe in herself. I adored her growth in Dreadnought. I also appreciated her friendships with two other female characters, Doctor Impossible and Calamity, who I both liked a lot.

On the flip side, Danny does seem to have accepted a lot of sexist norms. She looks like a supermodel after her transformation, but then she thinks she has to start worrying about her weight. Sometimes it feels like these things are being challenged (particularly regarding body image), but I’m not sure how successful this is in all regards.

The world building wasn’t great. In particular, there’s some info dumping at the beginning regarding Dreadnought and the history of superpowered people in the world that felt very clunky. The world building also had the feel of “everything in the kitchen sink” regarding superhero tropes and story elements. Honestly, I don’t expect superhero books to have fantastic world building since they tend to be building off of messy comic book universes. However, Danny’s world could have been better conveyed and I think it played into why the tone of the book felt so weird.

On one hand, you have the plot line and the world building, which both suggest fun and fluff. They’re not super serious, and they feel more like an MCU movie than one of DC’s darker films. On the other hand, you’ve got Danny’s personal life which is almost overwhelmingly dark. As a result, the overall tone feels really mismatched and off.

I liked Danny enough that I will probably read the next book in the series, although I don’t think I will give it high priority. I don’t know if I would universally recommend Dreadnought given some of what it deals with. If you’re already dealing with transphobia or emotionally abusive parents, this may be too much for you. On the other hand, maybe it’s empowering to see someone else overcoming it. So I recommend Dreadnought but with a caveat – it’s not all superpowered fun.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.

I received an ARC of Dreadnought from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review. ( )
  pwaites | Feb 3, 2017 |
Pros: complex issues, great world-building, transgender protagonist

Cons: a few minor complaints

When the superhero Dreadnought dies in front of Danny, he gives the teen his mantel, which changes Danny’s body from male to female. Now in the body she’s always wanted, Danny’s never been happier, though she feels guilty about how she got it. Her new body also causes her new problems, as her parents and schoolmates finally see the real her, and not everyone’s happy with her transition. The superhero community is different from what Danny’s always believed, and she faces several difficult choices - including whether to go after the supervillain who killed Dreadnought.

The book deals with several complex issues, not the least of which is Danny’s gender transition. I appreciated that the author didn’t pull punches, and showed Danny’s conflicted emotions and real consequences for both long term and short term actions.

It was great seeing a transgender protagonist, and the author showed how difficult things are: from coming out to friends and family, dealing with opposition, and learning to feel good in your skin. I especially appreciated the scenes where Danny learns about make-up and gets her first bra. While the book didn’t make me cry, I did feel for Danny on multiple occasions and was frankly shocked by a lot of the things that happened.

While Dreadnought is described as being invincible - his death notwithstanding, Danny quickly realizes she has limitations and can still feel pain and hurt herself. So there was tension and actual concern during fights that things might not go well for her.

I also appreciated that there was no romance in the book. There were times I thought the author was heading in that direction, but Danny had so much to deal with already, I think a love interest would have been too much. Having said that, I wouldn’t mind seeing a romance develop in later books.

The world-building is quite good, with some basic history into where super humans come from and how they’ve impacted recent history. While you don’t learn everyone’s backstories, some of them - specifically Calamity’s - are very realistic. Others are brushed off as comic book style transformations (specifically ones dealing with mythological or mystical origins).

The plot is great. while I saw one or two of the complications that cropped up, I was blindsided by most of the plot twists. The mystery of Utopia’s identity kept me guessing, and I enjoyed seeing Calamity teach Danny the ropes of ‘caping’.

I had a few minor complaints, like Danny’s insistence that her best friend would come around to her new body quickly. Considering the fact that Danny didn’t feel she could share that she was transgender with him, something about her friend must have tipped her off to the fact that she couldn’t trust him with the news.

I also had trouble picturing the action in some of the airplane rescue scenes, though the author did a great job explaining Danny’s powers in other scenes.

This is a fantastic debut and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the series progresses. ( )
  Strider66 | Jan 24, 2017 |
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