I’ve been highly anticipating finally reading Dreadnought ever since I heard it’s pitch on booktube. A young adult superhero story featuring a transwoman sounded super fresh to me, and I was really interested in finally reading it, especially considering all the good reviews I’d heard, and that it is an ownvoices story.
A fresh superhero story
The superhero genre is one we’ve heard from a lot recently in the last few years. Obviously superheroes have been big in the movies lately – but we also have more and more superhero books coming out, and that’s not going to be letting up anytime soon. Fact is, everyone loves a good superhero story …. me included. But fact also is they can become repetitive and boring, especially since we’re oversaturated with them.
But Dreadnought feels fresh. The protagonist, Danny, is a unique character and the kind of person we don’t usually see as the hero. She’s a transwoman and lesbian, and it was incredible interesting to see the ways in which those identities intersected with her role as a hero. Centering her perspective as a marginalised identity gives Dreadnought a unique perspective and fresh voice, and I thought it was also just an empowering message to send – that marginalised people like Danny can be heroes too.
Danny is a character you can get behind
For me the characters were the highlight of the story, and I found Danny, the MC, to be a strong and convincing character. Her voice is powerful and really comes through. The story is told in her first person perspective, and her observations, both inward and outward give this book depth and honesty.
Danny struggles are intense and violent – transphobia and homophobia are commonplace in her life, an she faces opposition from almost all angles. Her character arc really impressed me, and her character strength and integrity was a highlight. She felt like a real character – her anger and her thought processes made her feel like a realistic character, and reminds us that people are gritty and hard sometimes. But she’s also a great character in her strength, and like I said, her character development is wonderful.
The side characters were also well written. Calamity is another superhero who befriends Danny. She is a black lesbian woman, and I loved her character so much. Like Danny, she is another strong woman and she played a big role in carrying the story. She also added another unique perspective to the story and I definitely appreciated that extra layer she added and how she both opposed and complimented Danny’s voice depending on the situation.
The relationships were strong, especially between Doc Impossible/Danny, and Calamity/Danny. My one complaint character wise, is that the other superhero side characters were a little underdeveloped, though I am hoping this will be remedied in the sequel.
Why four stars?
The issues I had character wise have already been addressed. My one other issue is that I felt the worldbuilding was a little shaky at times, especially regarding the superheroes. I would have liked more explanation. I also had issues writing wise – this is definitely an “its me, not you” issue, but some of the action scenes I felt weren’t as intense as they should have been, and there was a general lack of suspense overall. Considering it was a superhero story, some parts weren’t as exciting as they should have been.
DREADNOUGHT by April Daniels is an excellent and fresh entrant into the young adult superhero sphere. The centering of the story around Danny as a transwoman allowed many issues facing transwomen to be unpacked and exposed, whilst simultaneously giving us a unique and realistic superhero story which was full of fun, solid friendships and, of course, epic superhero battles. Highly recommend this story to anyone looking for a fresh superhero story.
Trigger warnings in this book for: transphobia, homophobia, trans/homophobic slurs