Dreadnought (Nemesis #1)
Author: April Daniels
Publication: January 24th, 2017
Publisher: Diversion Books
Format: e-ARC, 265 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, LGBTQ+
Read: January 2017
I received an e-ARC of this book from Diversion Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
An action-packed series-starter perfect for fans of The Heroine Complex and Not Your Sidekick.
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 am a cisgender, straight woman and I know very little about transgender issues. If I say anything in this review that can be seen as offensive to the transgender community, please let me know!
Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
The plot of this book was really action packed and intense. It kicks off right away with the scene described in the blurb and has a lot of emotional and powerful moments throughout. There were times when I was a little confused with the world building. It was kind of choppy, some things I felt were over explained with a lot of time spent with them and others didn’t have as much of a spotlight. However, I really enjoyed how the author explored themes of family, friendship, identity and acceptance.
Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
Honestly, it was hard for me to get into this book in the beginning. It had a medium pace but I still felt like the book dragged. For some reason, the book took me a really long time to read even though I was enjoying it. The writing style is really descriptive and detailed though I felt like some things were more so than others. And it’s also graphic and unapologetic when depicting not only action scenes but the prejudices that Danny faces.
Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I really liked the characters in this series though for some reason I was very confused with Danny’s race. I don’t know why going into this book it was something that I fixated on, I can’t even tell you why, but I couldn’t picture her for half of the book because it never specifically said the color of her skin. There’s a certain point where another character comments on her whiteness and that’s the only mention of it. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m trying to be more conscious about race or what, but yeah that threw me for a loop. But anyway, I really liked Danny as a narrator, though there is SO MUCH going on in her life from the moment that we meet her that it sometimes made it hard for me to wrap my head around. She’s very happy about the situation she finds herself in but also really scared and nervous about how that is going to change her life. She struggles a lot with decisions and I liked her sweet, kind and brave nature. Sometimes I think she pushed herself too far too fast and it made me nervous for her well being but it definitely showed the determination she has. There are also a lot of side characters in this book, so many that it felt like they weren’t developed enough. I wanted some of them to have more page time and others to have a whole lot less than they ended up having. They were all very unique and I had some favorites obviously, though again, I got some mixed signals with the appearances of some of them. There’s also a lot of antagonists I guess you could say, people who are against Danny for some reason or another and damn did those characters create so much crap for the poor girl. It was so harsh and painful and yet so brutally honest and real, specially since this is an own voices trans book that it broke my heart and pissed me the f off at the same time.
I’m not that big of a fan of superhero movies or books, it’s not really my thing, so I was a bit apprehensive about this book but I really enjoyed it.
The plot is intense. We follow Danny, a trans girl who transitions after the legendary superhero Dreadnought hands over his superhero powers before he dies. Thus proceeds the hardest/happiest week of her life. The plot started right off the bat. We don’t really have a lot of time to get to know Danny before she transitions since that’s pretty much the opening scene of the book. It took me a bit off guard since I was expecting a much slower build up to what the blurb mentioned and I wasn’t really sure what more things the book was gonna bring. However, I was really pleasantly surprised with all the different elements within the plot. I really liked the balance between the action and everyday life. Danny is dealing with her powers and all that comes with it, specially since they are so legendary. All of those things are overwhelming enough but I liked that the author also showed us Danny in her natural environment before she received the mantle. Going to school, dealing with friends and family, none of that was ignored in favor of the cool superhero powers. Adjusting to school and family strife is just as important to the plot and to Danny’s character as searching for the super villain who murdered Dreadnought. Both parts of her life are presented in the story and both have good and bad things within them. The action scenes are really intense and have a lot of details that while I enjoyed them, it took me awhile to read and make sure that I was wrapping my head around everything that was going on. This book also makes it a point to challenge a lot of different things like misgendering, discrimination and prejudice. Harmful things that hurt people on a daily basis were explored but nothing got a pass which is amazing. It made the character’s story much real and powerful and it definitely drove home the message of acceptance that I believe the author was trying to share. The writing like I mentioned above took me awhile to get used to, it was kind of choppy in ways. Some things were overly described, others weren’t described enough. Because there’s a nice balance between the action and everyday stuff, I wanted the same thing with the writing but I think the shifting gears of fast paced, fighting scenes to chill and emotional ones needs some work. The ending was a bit rushed, I would’ve liked to see more closure or have the last few scenes wrapped up in a different way but it was also left open enough to welcome the sequel which I’m really excited to read! So many things happened in those last few chapters and I can’t wait to see where the series grows from here.
Danny took awhile for me to warm up to. She’s going through so much through this book. Her narrative is like an emotional roller coaster and that really affected my connection with her. It was so up and down and so messy when it came to describing how she felt, that I felt like I couldn’t really understand who she was in the beginning. Her transition is such a big part of the story and I can’t really comment much on how well the representation is done. However, I will say that while the beginning of the story, the first scene being her transition, made it hard for me to get into the story as a whole, it made it much easier to understand Danny as she is, rather than how people around her were used to seeing it. It made her perspective and her anger toward people who refused to see her as she is much easier to connect to and to understand from a cisgender perspective, because I never saw her as anyone but herself. As the story went on however, I got to understand her personality and her goals not only as a person but as now a hero with so much responsibility on her shoulders. That was also something that shifted my thoughts about her, she has so much she needs to do, so many people giving her their opinions and expecting her to follow them as well. I love how her character development and journey had a lot to do with her finding her voice and deciding what she wanted to do and what she wanted to believe in. I can’t wait to read more about her and to see how she moves forward from what the end of the book entailed.
Now I want to talk about the side characters. This is probably where I have the most complaints. There are SO MANY side characters that I felt like I couldn’t really get to know any of them well. Some are there as pure antagonists and once they finish their job, they are gone from page time. And others had more of a positive role in Danny’s life and yet I still felt like they could’ve given me more about them as individuals. Sarah or Calamity, who is a girl that Danny meets in the first scene of the book and with whom she strikes a friendship and a sort of partnership with. I really liked her because she had a very spunky attitude. She’s really self-confident and has very strong opinions and isn’t afraid to make them known. However, she’s also very reckless and both of them as a team get into situations that are very dangerous for them. One of the things that bothered me about Sarah’s characterization is that apparently she’s supposed to be Latinx. Danny says that she looks to be Latina in one sentence in the book when she first meets her and that’s never brought up again. It’s such a small detail that I actually thought Sarah was black for the majority of the book, specially because of a specific conversation she has with Danny. I really wanted this to be much clearer than it is in the text. If she’s really Latinx, her name would likely be spelled like mine is (Hi, if you didn’t know I’m Latinx and my name is Sara, without an H). I’m nitpicking and I know it, but another review mentioned her being Latinx and it’s so unclear in the text that I can’t help but complain about it. Nothing makes me more excited than seeing Latinx representation… as long as that’s really what it is. Doc is another character that Danny gets close to and I really liked her presence and support of Danny. I really wanted to see more of her and I want to learn more about her now, specially because of some reveals toward the end that I never saw coming at all. She’s really kind and open and just so nice to Danny and understanding and just cool.
Overall, I liked this book but I feel like it had the potential to blow me away and just fell a little short. The plot of the book is really intense and powerful though some areas are more fast paced than others. The writing style can feel choppy and disjointed at times and it took me awhile to get into the rhythm of the book. However, I really enjoyed Danny and the majority of the side characters and I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here.
So that’s it for this post! I would love to know if any of you are going to be picking up this book, you definitely should! I enjoyed myself while reading it though I didn’t expect how much since I’m usually not a fan of superhero things. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the rest of the story develops from here. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!