Review of “Dreadnought” (Nemesis #1) by April Daniels

Daniels, April. Dreadnought. New York: Diversion Books, 2017.

Paperback | $14.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1682300688 | 280 pages | Fantasy–Superheroes

5 stars

I’m not the biggest superhero fan, either in comics or movie form, although I did have a brief flirtation with a few volumes of the Teen Titans comics, thanks to the original Cartoon Network show. However, this book, shared by author Mackenzi Lee on the Epic Reads YouTube channel as part of her Pride Month recommendations, sparked my interest, due to my interest in diversifying my reading, and upon hearing it was ownvoices, I became even more excited to pick it up.

Daniels blends the fun, often trod concept of a superhero origin story with that of a transgender teen, and all the issues that come with that, and the result is impeccable. I was particularly drawn to how she clearly drew on her own lived experience, as well as those of people she knows to delve into the transphobia that Danny is subjected to by those in her life. There is a magical element that assists in the transition, but that only amplifies the way both family and friends view her differently. I also like how this new experience of being a superhero puts her in the ranks of some new people, some of whom accept her and some don’t, allowing for a full spectrum of the issue of acceptance of trans people.

One of the relationships that really stands out is between Danny and Calamity. Calamity is incredibly kind to her, helping her to pick out clothes and whatnot, and it’s great to see her being a supportive friend to Danny, with just the slightest hint that there may be something more beneath the surface. The supporting cast in general was pretty, cool, and I liked that, in addition to providing authentic trans rep, the cast was also racially diverse and quirky. One of my other favorite characters was Doc Impossible, especially since he had one of the pivotal moments that shifts Danny’s perception about what it means to be a woman.

This is a book that is equal parts fun and emotionally moving. I would recommend this to anyone interested in a book that discusses trans issues, or anyone who is looking for a superhero story with a twist.

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