Regular Rating: 3.5 stars
Diversity Rating: 2 stars (POC, LBGT+: transgender, lesbian)
In the past year I’ve become a lover of both Supergirl and The Flash (the tv-shows) and therefore I couldn’t wait to read a superhero book. And a superhero book about a trans girl! It sounded amazing, and for a large part of it, it was amazing.
Dreadnought (Nemesis #1) by April Daniels
Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her 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 between her father’s dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny’s first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.
The story starts off with Danny, a girl stuck in a boy’s body. The only way to keep sane is to secretly paint her toenails. But then the most amazing and horrible thing happens: Dreadnought, the saviour of the city, dies before her eyes and gives her his cape. Which for some weird reason turns her into a real girl, a both thrilling and terrifying experience. But with this new body also comes these powers. She is 15 years old and how a superhero.
“I see a world that is terrified of me. Terrified of someone who would reject manhood. Terrified of a girl who knows who she is and what she’s capable of. They are small, and they are weak, and they will not hurt me ever again. My name is Danielle Tozer. I am a girl.”
With this new body comes new responsibilities and new fears. Her parents don’t accept her as a girl and her father is an aggressive man who wants to turn her back into a boy. Her best friend, who is a guy, sees her as a pretty girl he can take advantage of. She becomes friends with Calamity, another cape (as all the people with superpowers are called). I loved the beginning of this book, in which she had to deal with her family, friends, school and her new body. I loved to read about her standing up for herself and learning how to fly. She meets the superhero organization and learns about her powers.
One thing that bugged me a little in the beginning was the fact that she simply got a new body, and didn’t have to deal with the transgression between a boy’s and a girl’s body. I thought that for transgenders it would be much harder and therefore disappointing. However, I have come to realize that being transgender is more than just not belonging in your own body, it is also the way other people see you.
But then in the next part, she meets Calamity and they start caping together (aka doing superhero stuff together). I have very mixed feelings about Calamity, I kinda liked her but I also thought she was really irresponsible. Danny has literally no experience whatsoever and she drags her to go catch bad guys. She should at least have gotten some fight training! Together they try to find the murderer of Dreadnought, which is really dangerous and it feels like they simply don’t care. They are very young and someone should look out for them!
Another thing that I liked less (which is probably all my fault) is the large amount of fight scenes. There is nothing wrong with fight scenes but very often they get my mind all boggled up and I can’t really keep track of what is happening.
My favourite character is definitely Danny, with a second place for Doc Impossible (because she’s just awesome). I loved how strong Danny was and I loved reading about her situation at home. I loved the aspect that she was transgender and also lesbian.
“I am a girl. Even if you don’t see it.”
I rate this book 3.5 stars, because it was great and I very much look up to Danny. I enjoyed getting some insight in the life of a transgender. I would definitely recommend this book if you like superhero books, and if you are interested in reading from a transgender’s perspective.