Dreadnought by April Daniels

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[Edit: Originally published June 23, 2017]

Dreadnought is the coming of age story of Danny, a young trans girl who finds herself with the body of a girl after she inherits the superpowers of the hero Dreadnought. 

It blows every other trans coming of age story I’ve ever read out of the water. Probably, because, unlike the other trans coming of age stories I’ve read. This one was written by an actual trans person. 

This also isn’t just a trans coming of age story. Yes, Danny has to navigate a new body and how she’s suddenly viewed differently by her peers, while her parents (her father in particular) are desperately searching for a way to reverse what’s been done. But she’s just been given superpowers and the super villain who killed the previous Dreadnought is still at large. She’s also being pressured by some of the previous Dreadnought’s team members to take up his mantle when she’s old enough to do so.

One of the things that I appreciated about the book was how it dealt with transphobia. There’s a lot of it, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed. The transphobia was not the primary focus of the story though it certainly fed the plot. 

There were two things that really struck me:

One, it did not stick to the narrative often portrayed in novels by cis people of the One Big Bad Transphobia. It came from everywhere. Angry parents who could not accept that their “son” would want to live in a female body. One of the previous Dreadnought’s teammates has a very terf like ideology when it comes to how she treats Danny, she sees Danny as being deceptive and that Dreadnought being a trans woman would be damaging for “real women.”

It’s intense stuff, but as I said I never felt overwhelmed, which leads me to point two. The transphobia scenes are all relatively short and are juxtaposed by Danny finding people who do accept her and support her, both gender wise and in her early heroing attempts. Because let’s not forget, this is a superhero story. 

One of the big questions for Danny is does she take up the title of Dreadnought? She could become her own superhero, or she could not go the way of the superhero at all and just use her newly gained abilities in whatever job she gets down the road. Not every person with powers wants to be a superhero, after all.

It’s also just, incredibly well written. The book is written from Danny’s point of view and as such we are graced by some very funny and witty inner dialogue. I would definitely consider this a must have for any one looking for good trans fiction. 

Warnings:

  • Transphobia, as I mentioned.
  • Misogyny 
  • Violence, I would say that the amount of violence is pretty normal for the genre. 
  • Death. I don’t think any were super graphic, but there is one major on page death.

You can find it here.

Book two, Sovereign comes out on July 25!

Related Reviews: Eggshells

Snaps:

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