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 much 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.
Overall Rating: 9/10 stars
Arthur’s Review: 4/5 Stars
There is a common misconception among cis people that if they want to understand the trans experience they must try to imagine what it would be like if they had always felt like the gender they are not. A better way to grasp it would be to ask what if you knew your gender but everyone else insisted you were wrong?
I feel like Dreadnought illustrates that masterfully because the first thing that happens to Danny is she gets the body she always wanted in the first place, but that doesn’t change everyone else’s perception of her. Parents and friends continue to act under the assumption that Danny is a boy. So Danny has to deal with coming out after transitioning – magical though that transition may be – which is an interesting path to navigate and one I think Daniels handles very well.
Overall I really enjoyed Dreadnought. Some things were frustrating, but they were frustrating because that’s what they are: Danny’s parents, her best friend, one of the superheroes being trans exclusionary. It’s a book full of super powers and impossible technology, but it is also so relatable and real.
And I also just really loved it because superheroes.
Maria’s Review: 5/5 Stars
I loved this book.
Seriously, I am not the biggest fan of everything superheroes, capes and superpowers, but I *loved * this book. It was so hard to read at times, but so beautiful. I felt like it was the perfect mixture of everything, and I had so much fun during the thrilling action scenes, and kept turning the pages because the mystery was that compelling.
This book contains way more than a superhero story though. Danielle is an incredibly fleshed out character. I read her like a teenager – which should not be as rare in YA as I feel it is. Some of it was just… so real. I think part of why this touched me so deeply was because of the abusive household she comes from. I found so many of my experiences and responses to abusive parents reflected so spot on in this, it was scary, it hurt and it hit me to the bone at times. I would’ve given so much for a book like this as a teen. It hurt, but in a good and real way, if that makes sense.
There are other topics discussed in this book that hit me deeply. The two-faced hypocrisy of allies and waywardness of allies, families and friends for example. Cut me to the bone. But also was a fierce reminder to check myself and look at the people in my life closely. Related to this though, this book contains a lot of violence, slurs, cissexism, transmisia TERF and trans denialist language. Reading these parts was hard, crushing and painful, but also felt necessary for me as a cis reader. Race and disability are also topics that get touched upon in this novel, but I really don’t feel qualified to discuss those. Some things felt… maybe a bit off to me? But that’s as far as I’m able to pin down my thoughts.
One niggle I did have was the world-building. I did have some moments, especially in the beginning, where I had big question marks over my head. There’s a massive info dump at the beginning of the story that felt a bit clumsy, but also a bit confusing because the world didn’t exactly grow naturally on me, but got explained in a couple of paragraphs. Since I’m a history geek, I kind of liked it, but it also left me with some unanswered questions that never got resolved. (Plus, the German names. Y’all. I have thoughts, mostly about the wrong spelling of Doktor and usage of an event that was devastating for the Jewish community being used as a name for a villain. But that’s really just me.)
All in all, I honestly enjoyed the hell out of this story. It’s a beautifully written, strong debut full of emotions and action, with a great main character and a compelling mystery. I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel.