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 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.
I received an eARC of Dreadnought courtesy of the publisher, Diversion Books, and Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review!
This book had a lot of things I love – superheroes, a struggle with identity, magic – but it also had a lot of things that were really difficult for me, as a cis woman to read. This is what’s called an “own voices” book – the author and the main character are both trans women.
I want to give a warning before I get any further into this review. There was a lot of transphobia in this book, from the character’s parents, friend, and a fellow whitecape. There’s a ton of slurs used, some unwanted medical procedures and if this is something that’s gonna trigger you, I’d advise you avoid this book.
I loved Danny as a protagonist. She felt entirely real to me, even when she was using figuring out her superpowers to get away from her family. I loved the friendship that she developed throughout the book with Calamity, and with Doc Impossible.
“It’s for science.”
“You are going to buy me pizza.”
“A lot of pizza.”
I liked this quote, and the exchange, but I have some concerns about the Doc’s treatment of Danny when she was having her physical with the Legion. I get that Doc’s a scientist, but the surprise strychnine and radioactive stuff bothered me, and not just because of what happens after the physical is done. Danny had literally just gotten finished being poked and prodded by dozens of “baseline” doctors at her dad’s request, and even with a funny doctor, it’s still another invasion. I don’t know if it bothered anyone else, but it bothered me.
I also thought there could have been a little more explanation of the hypertech & fancy machinery. Danny’s family is broke – I’d bet she’d never seen some of it which would have made an easy excuse to explain everything.
The action scenes were awesome, the dialogue was realistic, and I loved that Danny was eventually able to escape her parents. I was intrigued by the superhero stuff, which I wasn’t sure I’d like. I look forward to reading the rest of the series, to learn more about Calamity and the Legion, and any new heroes & villains we’ll eventually meet!
Dreadnought was a four star read for me, and I highly recommend it, as long as you’re careful with your own mental state while you read. You can pick up a copy through Amazon, Indiebound or your other favorite bookseller!
April Daniels was born in a military hospital just before it was shut down for chronic malpractice—in hindsight, that should have been an omen. After various tribulations in childhood and the frankly disconcerting discovery that she was a girl, she graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in literature, and then promptly lost her job during the 2008 stock crash and recession. After she recovered from homelessness, she completed her first manuscript by scribbling a few sentences at a time between calls while working in the customer support department for a well-known video game console. This book was mainly porn, with a few sword fights included for variety. When April realized she couldn’t pitch her book without blushing, she decided to write something else. During yet another period of unemployment, she wrote Dreadnought.
She has a number of hobbies, most of which are boring and predictable. As nostalgia for the 1990s comes into its full bloom, she has become ever more convinced that she was born two or three years too late and missed all the good stuff the first time around. Having recently become a pagan, April is currently enduring the karmic backlash for all the times she was smug about her atheism.
Early in her writing practice, April set her narrative defaults to “lots of lesbians” and never looked back.
Disclaimer: All links to Indiebound and Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money off of it.