Stark’s Thoughts: Dreadnought by April Daniels

Title Dreadnought
Author April Daniels
Series Nemesis #1
Genre YA, Fantasy
Format Kindle Edition
Page Length 276
Publication Date 24 Jan 2017
Publisher Diversion Books
Read Date Oct 2018
Recommended Yes

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.

This was fun. It has a deeply likeable main character and some really bloody fantastic supporting characters. When I grow up, I want to be Calamity. Unfortunately, I felt the plot lacked substance and fizzled out towards the end. The book does a marvellous job of identifying and exploring some of the social issues trans people can face. It’s clever and witty in parts with some refreshingly new and creative superhero abilities.

Three Words
Enjoyable | Humorous | Uninspired

– Cover love – Look at it!
– Trans rep
– Supporting characters
– First person, witty, writing style

– The rushed ending
– The cliche villain
– The cliche villain battles
– Some character arcs felt unfinished

Overall Thoughts

I have mixed feelings about this. I haven’t really read many superhero books. I think this is my first superhero novel, everything else I have read have been comics. I stopped reading superhero comics because I found a lot of them to be very similar and formulaic. But I wanted to read this because it’s got some great reviews on the goodreads dot com and I wanted to read more trans authors.

Danny is a wonderful main character. I instantly became invested in her and her story. She’s super awkward at times and very witty in others. She’s a thoughtful, introverted, person that regularly overthinks the morality of situations. I can see a lot of people easily relating to her.

This is a superhero origin story at its core, but Danny is trans and therefore there is a large focus on the social issues trans people face. I never felt like I was being preached to or lectured on the subject. At the start of the story Danny is a 15 year old, in her birth, male, body. When she gains her superpowers she transforms into her ideal, female, body. I was really interested in how Danny has this ongoing battle with embracing finally being in the right body, but also having to deal with shitheads that refuse to accept her gender. Particularly her emotionally abusive father. There is some really good storytelling of how even in a room of people accepting who you are, it just takes that one person to say mean things and those are the comments that cut deep and stay with you. Throughout this, we are shown that Danny’s struggles are not with her accepting who she is – she knows who she is – the struggle comes from how some other people around her struggle to accept who she is. Danny’s moral struggles come from her learning to be something she has never been – a superhero!

When Danny gets her powers and starts to go caping (superhero patrolling), there is a really interesting exploration of how easy it would be for Danny to abuse her powers. She is, by far, the most powerful person around, with super strength and super speed. But her new abilities do not change her moral stance. She has a desire to ensure she doesn’t go too far, and become a bully herself. She is catching criminals that do horrendous things, but she still treats them with an amount of respect. She recognises that these are not necessarily bad people, just people that lose their way and become desperate. They must face the consequences of their actions, but just because they are criminals, does not mean Danny, or anyone else, has carte blanche to do whatever they like with them. My hippy heart lapped this up. Picture me, lapping this up. Like a cat lapping up milk. I’m so adorbs.

One of Danny’s abilities really fascinated me. Essentially, she can see and work with the space time dimension. When I was in my late teens I went through a fascination with space time – what it is, how it works, what it does etc. So I was glad to see it pop up here. The ability is described as being able to see a fabric and lattice that Danny can work with. But it doesn’t come easy and working with it often leaves her physically injured. I really liked this, and I spent a lot of time thinking about it.

I didn’t universally love everything about this book though. I struggled a little with the last 20% and really didn’t like the ending. The focus of the story moves away from Danny and her personal struggles and battles, to being several chapters of rather cliche, action packed, superhero battles. Danny fights a number of faceless henchmen in order to try and overthrow a one dimensional super villain. And that just didn’t do much for me. It very much felt like a plot structure we have all seen/read a million times over.

The ending felt very rushed and contrived. Ultron-esque bad guy does bad things but is then overthrown. Sorry for the spoiler there, but yes, the good guys win at the end. There are some major event that happen in the last act that don’t get the time and attention they deserve. But, for more info on this, we must suit up and enter the spoiler zone! *insert suiting up montage here with bat-nipples and everything!*

Oh look how fancy it is here in spoiler zone! I got some new sofas and drapes in and it really brings the room together don’t ya think?!

Throughout this book, Danny crushes on another superhero called Valkyrja. It’s adorable. Danny gets all awkward around her and clearly thinks a lot about her. It really felt like something was growing with this relationship. But then in the final scenes, Valkyrja is killed off page. And there is very little said about it. I think it’s literally four lines that reference it. Like, WTF?! Danny doesn’t even react to it properly. It’s like, oh and btw Valk is dead, that’s sad, anyway thank you next. (Pop culture references because I’m cool and down with the kids!) The whole thing made Danny feel selfish and uncaring. It felt very much out of character and turned me off Danny somewhat. Ugh, I really disliked this.

I loved the supporting characters in this, but sometimes their stories felt a little unfinished, particularly those of Danny’s parents. I think they are possibly setting up events for a larger story arc across the trilogy, which may work if you are going to read them all. My personal preference though is that I like each book to contain its own story.

One supporting bad-ass character that I loved is Calamity. She’s a grey-cape (meaning she isn’t wholly good or bad – think grey jedi), doing individually morally wrong deeds for the end goal of creating a greater good. She’s super rich because she robs drug dealers and she uses that money to buy off informants. Also, she drives around on a motorcycle! But the best thing about her is that her gimmick is that of an old-timey western cowgirl with a wide brimmed hat and southern drawl shoot-em-up accent! And she shoots people with non-lethal bullets… sometimes. Well I do declare, she tickled my fancy she did, yeeha! Oh what a gem of a supporting character. The best thing is, she’s not a sidekick! Oh no, if anything, Danny is the sidekick and Calamity is the leader of the two. I bloody loved her I did and I can see a prequel Calamity novel in the not too distant future.

Overall, a good story with fantastic characters and a lot of potential, but unfortunately the plot loses focus towards the end and became a tad uninspired. I felt the trans rep did a wonderful job of educating about some of the social issues trans people experience. Danny is a highly investible and easy to like protag. It’s clever and witty in parts with some refreshingly new and creative superhero abilities.

Anyway, I’m off to put on my cape and buy a motorcycle with totally legit money that I earned in totally legit ways. Until next time, Peace and Love!

Book LinksGoodreads | Kindle highlights | Amazon UK | Amazon US

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  1. I’d love that Calamity lady as well! She sounds like lots of fun, and the ‘grey’ characters are always the most interesting. And I bet the author is a Brandon Sanderson fan hehe

    I’m not a fan of superhero books, so I won’t read it, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This actually sounds like quite the wholesome of a story! I really like your thoughts on Danny’s character and the way you highlight her development in this book, however having read the spoiler part I think I would be exactly as bamboozled as you. That felt very dismissive of Danny. Hmm…

    Calamity sounds great! Real badass indeed and I blame you not for having a little crush 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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