Review: Dreadnought, April Daniels

tfw basically all you have to say to convince anyone to read a book is the premise (cf: time-traveling pirates): TRANS GIRL SUPERHERO. Danny is struggling with how to tell her parents that she’s a girl when the superhero Dreadnought falls from the sky, bestows all his powers upon Danny, and magically transforms her body into a girl’s body. All at once, she has girl parts and superhero powers, and neither of those is exactly easy to explain to the people in her life.



So in the first place, it’s terrific to read more #ownvoices books about trans folks, and I hope as the years go on we’ll get more and more of these. I was particularly excited about Dreadnought because it’s as much about Danny learning how to be a superhero as it is about her transition — maybe more? dunno — and I love that. She never struggles with her own gender identity, only with other people’s expectations of her, which leaves a lot of room for anxieties and fears relating to the awesome godlike powers that have fallen upon her with no warning and no instruction manual.

Dreadnought is a first novel with some first novel problems. At times Daniel can be heavy-handed with her exposition, and there are plot threads and character arcs that receive inconsistent amounts of attention at different points in the book. By the end of the book, though, Daniels has set Danny up with a little team of her own, some impending doom to grapple with in future books, and an array of complicated relationships to continue navigating. The book isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely fun and engaging, and I’ll absolutely be picking up the sequel(s).

Content note! The superhero stuff in this book is mostly your typical fun superhero fare, but Danny faces a lot of ugliness around being trans. She gets called a bunch of slurs by people who should be on her side, including her father and best friend, and this doesn’t really let up as the book goes on. So be prepared for some characters to be awful and not to come around as time goes on. (Maybe in future books.)


9 thoughts on “Review: Dreadnought, April Daniels”

  1. I like the idea that she suddenly has everything she wants, but then has to deal with explaining it to everyone in her life. It would suck to actually feel good about yourself, but still have to deal with everyone else.

  2. Awesome! It’d be even more super awesome if it were a comic book, but text novel is still pretty great.

  3. Ooh, this sounds great! I agree with Stefanie that it would be super-fun as a comic book, but I also like it as a novel. Mostly because I feel so lost in reading Ms Marvel now as a comic since I don’t read any of the other Marvel comics and I feel like I miss a lot…

  4. But why did an author named Daniels name her character Danny?! Your review had me confused for a bit because I was skimming too fast.

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