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Dreadnought: Nemesis - Book One Paperback – January 24, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—While many teenagers have a challenging time dealing with school and peer pressure, for 15-year-old Danny Tozer, life is a little more complicated. For starters, she is transgender and living in a world where superheroes and supervillains exist. When Danny unexpectedly becomes the recipient of popular superhero Dreadnought's mantle, the superpowers also transform her body into the female one she has always identified with. Because Danny is not yet an adult, the Legion of Superheroes is divided on how to approach her unique situation. Her father is in denial that his son is now his daughter, and has been verbally abusive toward Danny. A promise of romance adds a further layer when Danny's best friend wants to date her. There are some violent fight scenes when Danny sets off to find Dreadnought's killer. There are also some light moments that offset the deeper questions about establishing identity. VERDICT This first title in the series offers a rich, unusual mix of subjects and themes for fantasy fans.—Vivian Ho, Port Washington Public Library, NY
“I didn’t know how much I needed this brave, thrilling book until it rocked my world. Dreadnought is the superhero adventure we all need right now.”―Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky
“A thoroughly enjoyable, emotionally rich, action-packed story with the most exciting new superheroes in decades. Unmissable.”―Kirkus Starred Review
“…A fascinating exploration of gender identity in a fantastical setting.”―Publishers Weekly
“This first title in the series offers a rich, unusual mix of subjects and themes for fantasy fans.”―School Library Journal
“I’m not normally a fan of superhero narratives, and then I find an exception that grabs me by the throat and makes me love it. Dreadnought is one of those exceptions.” ―Liz Bourke, Tor.com
“Dreadnought is a coming-of-age story: it’s all about Danny coming to terms with her own power and her own agency, not just as a superhero, but as a person (and as a person who chooses to be a superhero), and it’s one that doesn’t shy away from consequences, either. People get hurt, sometimes badly―sometimes killed, and it’s this willingness to highlight the fact that standing up doesn’t come without real cost that gives Dreadnought its real heart.”―Locus Magazine
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Top customer reviews
This book contains several sequences of great superhero action (the airplane rescue and the fight against the mechas really stand out as pulse-pounding, fist-pumping action sequences), but it also focuses a lot on Danny's (pretty rough) social life, capturing with really pitch-perfect gut-wrenching nuance how hard it is to be trans in high school, especially when you're going home to systematic psychological abuse.
But because Danny's a good old-fashioned hero, with a sort of unwavering decency that carries her through all the problems the world throws at her, through rabid TERFs and wavering allies and friends lost and found and the occasional world-ending supervillain.
Anyways seriously you should go read it.
Okay, the powers are cool, but now that she can't hide the fact that she's a girl, her parents get even more emotionally abusive, and she loses her best friend. And actually, the cool powers come with a major drawback -- the supervillain who killed the most recent Dreadnought is now coming after Danny, too.
And the local superheroes are -- well, a few of them are welcoming and helpful to Danny, and others are really, really, really unhelpful. And when a gang of high-tech villains working for the ultimate Big Bad come to town for some robbery, murder, and mayhem, Danny will have to hope the power of the Dreadnought will be enough to save the day -- and her own life.
This is April Daniels' very first novel, and it reads like it's her fiftieth -- she has a feel for characterization and action that usually takes years to get right. Danny is, obviously, the key character in the book, and her reactions are excellent -- as an abused child, she can't bring herself to fight back against her frantically angry father, partly because she doesn't want to hurt him, and partly because she's gotten used to knuckling under and letting him scream at her, and she can't break free of that habit yet.
Two other fantastic characters are Doc Impossible, a scientific super-genius who gives Danny emotional and material support, and Calamity, Danny's friend and vigilante super-soldier, who helps her learn how to be a good hero. Some other characters are less fully created -- Danny's parents are a bit one-note, and Greywytch, a spell-slinging TERF, is mostly there to give you someone to despise.
While there's lots of teenage hijinx and investigations with Danny and Calamity, and plenty of teen angst from Danny, when the action hits, it hits very, very hard. Danny is very powerful, but she doesn't really understand how her abilities work, and her opponents powerful enough to put her through a hell of a lot of pain. The fight scenes are frantic and terrifying, because Danny never knows if she's really powerful enough to survive what the bad guys are going to do to her.
All in all, it's an incredibly fun superhero tale with a lot of fun, relatable characters. If you love superheroes, if you love great characters and action, and if you have a trans friend who could use a pick-me-up, you should grab this book.
In a dozen different ways, it is all about Identity. From the villain's ultimate evil plan, to the claiming of the colors, to minds bound under the control and opinion of others, to the simple acceptance who and what the MC is.
Who you are is what matters, if you just claim it with your entire heart.
Wonderfully told, well edited, a joy to read.
The book does a lot of building up to the finale but I didn't mind that too much. It's the first book in a series, so is setting the stage for characters and their motivations, and when the action happens it's vivid and blood pumping.
A few have described this book as ham-fisted or preachy but I think that criticism is a bit unfair. If you're not familiar with trans experiences, some of the characters do seem a bit larger than life. However the unfortunate reality is that these almost cartoonishly bigoted people are far more common than many cis people like to acknowledge.
Ultimately I feel like Daniels was setting out to write a power fantasy for trans women, who so often end up as tragic figures. She succeeded beautifully and I'm eagerly waiting for the next volume to be announced.
Most recent customer reviews
At it's most poignant it is a story about a young transgender person, who just so happens to get super powers.Read more
I had heard great things about this book and I was so excited when...Read more
This book wasn't meant for me. It's an important story, but not mine.Read more
And then things get seriously different and not good.
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