Author: April Daniels
Series: Nemesis #1
Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Publisher: Diversion Publishing
Release Date: Jan 24th, 2017
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.
It’s no secret that I love superheroes. Very much. I used to appreciate a good one every once in a while, and a bad one a little too often that I would like, but this past year that appreciation blew up. (I blame my friends and the DCEU. Thanks assholes.) I found out about Dreadnought while I was on a animated teenage superheroes high and, well, you can all probably guess what happened.
Dreadnought takes place in a world not unlike ours – it IS ours, just more scientifically advanced and with superheroes. Danny is transgender and her primary worry is how to deal with being a girl when everyone is convinced she’s a boy. It’s definitely not dying-in-her-arms superheroes who aren’t supposed to even be able to die, nor are they fending off supervillains with incredibly powerful weapons that threaten to destroy the world. But as the current Dreadnought dies, he gives Danny his powers and with that comes the best gift she could ever receive – her outside finally reflects her inside. But her family just can’t seem to accept that Danny is a girl. Along with that, she now has to deal with her newfound superpowers, the Legion of superheroes who aren’t all positively inclined towards her, all the while balancing school, prejudice, her vigilante classmate, and her best friend being a douchebag. Oh, and a cyborg supervillain who wants to take over the world.
Listen, if you don’t want to rush off and read this book after reading the synopsis, well, then you’re wrong. (Or just not a fan of superheroes? Which I guess is okay. To each their own.) I definitely did want to do that. Granted, it took me longer than necessary to get to this book, and my expectations where through the roof, and while I can’t say I inhaled it, I can’t say I hated it either.
The writing itself was pretty good. It was engaging and easy enough to follow, except for the actions scenes but I’m not going to blame the book too much for those because I tend to struggle with those on a regular basis. It’s the world-building I had a problem with. I feel like there isn’t enough introduction to the world and how it all works. I get that there are more important issues and the author probably wanted to have more space to explore them. Understandable. But it would’ve been nice to have a little more exposition.
The main characters were a delight. I love Danny, my heart goes out to her. There’s so much rawness to her character, so much pain, but she’s also such a strong force. (And not just physically.) She doesn’t back down. Her strength is something to admire and aspire to. Calamity is also a really strong character and a perfect co-pilot for Danny. The two make an incredible team. I did feel like the rest were a bit too good-guys-bad-guys, I do tend to like my heroes more morally ambiguous and less black/white. Still, Utopia was an interesting villain. I wish we’d gotten to explore her character a little bit more.
But, in the end, Dreadnought isn’t all about superheroes and supervillains. This book shines a light on some of the ugly sides of society and its extreme narrow-mindedness. But it also radiates empowerment. Danny is a transgirl, living in a society that is still largely prejudiced, despite living among advanced technologies and metahumans. But she still stands strong. She owns her gender, her identity and doesn’t let anyone take it away from her. It’s an important lesson to teach, to learn, to accept.
There are a thousand things more to be said, but it isn’t my place to say them. I can say, however, that this book, despite the small issues I had with it, is a good book. An important book. A quick, enjoyable read that you get so much out of. I really loved going on adventures with Danny and Calamity and I can’t wait to see where the second book will take them.