Book Rewind Review: Dreadnought by April Daniels
Dreadnought by April Daniels was released in January 2017 and my friends have been recommending it to me for maybe even a little longer. So finally, for pride month, I made it a priority, and for today’s book rewind I’m going to share my thoughts with y’all!
Dreadnought is a YA superhero story, but so much more. Honestly, it is more of a story about being transgender than anything else. The troubles, the freedom, and the challenges of sharing your true identity with the world. Very much a parallel of a superhero origin story plot. Of course Danny also has the bonus added superhero powers to help her move more swiftly into her new identity.
This world is currently full of superheroes. Some are of the typical class, you know they have super speed, can fly, and are super strong. Others are mythological, high tech, or element based. There are also different levels of power, those who work for the League, those who are just living a semi-normal life, some may be vigilantes, others are just the morally gray, or the bad ones.
Most of them were gifted their powers back when the government was trying to make super soldiers to win the war (WWII). Some of these altered genetics have been passed down through their offspring over time, and others are able to pass on their power ‘mantle’ to another before they die. This is how Danny gets her power, when Dreadnought is taken down by a new unknown Supervillain, he knows he is dying and since Danny sees him and tries to help, Dreadnought exchanges his power to her.
As soon as Danny takes the mantle, her body immediately transforms into her ideal image, and in this case it is a beautiful girl. Danny is finally able to be the girl who she has always been, and on top of that she’s super strong, and can fly. SCORE!
While Danny finally feels right inside and out, she’s not sure she really wants to be a superhero nor does she feel like she should be the superhero the world needs. Dreadnought was the most popular and beloved superhero, big shoes to fill, but he also wasn’t the first Dreadnought. As Danny struggles with her family, friends, and school, she also has to come to terms if she is a cape and what kind of cape she will be.
In comes Calamity, she befriends Danny immediately, and with her guidance they both go off caping (to be heroes on the streets). With the guidance and no rules of a vigilante cape, a person who is not registered with the league, Danny learns a lot about the underbelly of the city. Her and Calamity become close friends. She has to make a decision how she will utilize her powers, but one thing is for certain, she doesn’t want to give them up and possibly return to the boy body she was in before.
There is a lot of extremely nuanced language of how it feels to be Danny, the transitioning, the mental stress, the non-accepting family, friends, and community. This is all so important, it may be tough to experience, but knowing it was written from an own voices author makes it that much more impactful and sometimes it broke me down being able to read so much of her feelings…knowing so many other trans people feel this way every single day.
This book is important. There are some serious issues of identity fleshed out over the course of the book and the family issues and abuse are sometimes too much, too harsh, but also so significant. But trust me, it is also a fun and playful story at times…from the fighting bad guys to saving the world!
*Trigger Warnings – Abuse – verbal and physical, transphobia, homophobia, racism.