Note: I received this book from Netgalley & the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Dreadnought is a superhero story unlike any other. It tells the story of Danny Tozer, who is hiding the fact that she’s transgender from the world. In her world, superheroes and supervillains are real and very much a part of society. When one of those superheroes dies right in front of Danny, her secret is out. Dreadnought, the superhero, passes his powers on to Danny and her body suddenly matches what she knows she’s always been: she’s officially a girl. Now, she not only has to deal with her new superpowers, but also has to deal with how her family and friends perceive her change, and her unwillingness to change back.
I enjoyed this book. It was a little slow for me at times, but I love superheroes, so this was right up my alley. It’s also a great coming of age and transition story all wrapped up into one. The characters are extremely real and believable, even though some of the people Danny considers to be closest to her say some truly terrible things to her after her transition (all the trigger warnings for strong discriminatory language). As she comes to terms with this welcome change to her body, she also has to deal with her verbally abusive father, timid mother, and a best friend who now pretty much sucks. She also develops new relationships with people who didn’t know her before the change, including reigning superheroes and a graycape (someone with powers who makes morally questionable choices) named Calamity, who’s also a very likable and fun character.
As a cis woman, I can’t speak with certainty as to the authenticity of Danny’s transition process. While realistic transitions obviously don’t happen so quickly, Danny’s journey post-transition felt authentic to me. The emotions she goes through were well-written, and people in her life had some pretty egregious reactions (again lots of trigger warnings for transphobia, homophobia, and emotional abuse). Danny herself isn’t perfect either, but she feels real. I also think it’s amazing the way the author integrates a superhero origin story with a coming out/transition story. This representation is really needed in YA and I really hope it helps promote positive images and thoughts for both trans and cis teens.
Dreadnought is a fun story, too. The battle scenes are really well written and easy to picture in your head. There were uneven moments, and some of it dragged a bit, but overall, I really enjoyed it. I would’ve liked more exploration of side characters, including the Legion, but ultimately this is Danny’s story, and I recognize that. If you’re looking for a fun, diverse read, this book was a wonderful one and I recommend it. You can get Dreadnought on January 24.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Will you read Dreadnought? Have any other great LGBTQIA+ YA reads I should check out? Let me know below!