Sovereign: The Transgender Superhero is Back!

A couple of months ago I reviewed Dreadnought, which is the first installment in the Nemesis series. I don’t know whether this is going to be a trilogy or a full-blown long series, but it doesn’t state it anywhere so we’ll see, I guess. I was lucky enough to get a free copy of Dreadnought back then and I was lucky again to be able to read this one.

Regular rating: 3.5 stars
Diversity rating: 3 stars (LGBT+, POC, disabled)

Warning: this is the second book in the series, and though I will try to avoid major spoilers, it could happen that you get spoiled. I marked one in white, so be aware!

Sovereign (Nemesis #2) – April Daniels32565582

Only nine months after her debut as the fourth superhero to fight under the name Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she’s doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it’s only going to get worse.

When she crosses a newly discovered supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there’s no trick too dirty and no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her.

She might be hard to kill, but there’s more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge.

And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.

Having lived as a girl for months now, Danielle’s struggles as a transgender are not yet over. There are still people (ahem Greywytch) not accepting her as a girl and not only that, the aftermath of her separation from her (abusive) family has left her in tricky situations. In court, she has to fight her father to be able to live with Doc Impossible, while the whole world is watching. The lines between what is right and what is are slowly fading, because through her job of saving people and hunting bad guys, a lot of people get hurt.

“Falling apart can come later, when people aren’t shooting at me.”

In this second book, we meet old and new characters. We meet Calamity (a black morally gray bi superhero with a prosthetic hand), who became Danny’s friend in the first book. Luckily, I didn’t think she was as irresponsible in this book and I liked Calamity a lot more. We meet a few new faces, a genderqueer, Iranian-American superhero called Kinetiq, a magical boy called Charlie and Karen, a half-American, half-Scandinavian death goddess (her own words) who is afflicted by her death mother’s memories (literally). We also meet new enemies (VERY EVIL, WORTH ALL MY HATE), supervillains who want to take over the world, and Dany has to save it.

I loved the added characters a lot, especially Kinetiq, but Doc Impossible and Danielle are still my favourites. Danielle is a strong character, who, even though she always gets in trouble, finds her way out. She makes mistakes, does things she shouldn’t have done, but in the end, you keep rooting for her. Doc Impossible is Danielle’s new mother figure, who also has her troubles laid out for her. *SPOILER FOR BOOK 1 marked white* Now that she involuntarily betrayed her friends, and is no longer perceived as the human she liked to be, she has to figure out how to live as an android. *end of spoiler*

There is also some romance added to the story and I won’t tell you exactly who or what but I did like it a lot. I thought it brought some extra dimension to the story and I loved that.

I also loved how well-researched and developed the story was. From the way Danielle determines the course to fly to get to her destination to how calculated every move is. You can see in everything how much time and devotion April spent on writing this book.

“There are two things I never get tired of looking at. The stars from low orbit and human brains.”

So by now, you might wonder why I am not giving this book a solid 4 stars or even more, and I don’t really know. I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped. In my review of Dreadnought, I mentioned that I always get confused while reading fight scenes, and that still happened. I am giving this book 3.5 stars, because again it gives so much insight and diversity. The diversity makes this story so important. Every character has its own background story and each of them is unique in a way. I really enjoyed reading this book so I will definitely recommend it if you like superhero stories with diversity. Also if you want a badass protagonist, you’ve found one.

*** I want to thank the publisher and NetGally for the chance to review this book, which will come out July 25th 2017**

Dreadnought (Nemesis #1) Review

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 51cxh4-asol-_sx322_bo1204203200_
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.