“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. No one is strong enough to take that from me anymore.”
What I liked most about this book is that, while it is an important diverse read, it isn’t the diversity alone that makes it great. It is just a great book while also being an essential book to extend the boundaries of inclusivity in the superhero universe. Danny is easy to love, and the initial opening with our introduction to her is so accessible in language. It has all the feeling of a contemporary fiction novel until, that is, people in capes start to appear.
We learn from Danny that she is transgender, and struggling in both her family life, but also her personal life as she is in a body that does not feel right. It touches on her struggle, it isn’t achingly cerebral like you would read in some other books. It is coloring for her world, a fact for acceptance and perspective.
As Danny contemplates her situation, and what she has been through, and how her family sees her… she suddenly finds herself across the street from a superhero battle. This is where we of course realize that things are about to get interesting, if the beautiful cover hadn’t already tipped you off! While trying to stay out of the line of fire, she discovers that Dreadnought, a well-known male metahuman, has been struck down and is possibly mortally injured just feet away from her. She pleads with him to get up, she even attempts to pull him to safety, but he has been fatally wounded. In his final moments, his powers pass to Danny.
Danny finds herself now in the body of a female, magically shifted as her new powers fill every cell of her body. It’s something which feels both right and wrong at the same time. It is a shock, and a freeing experience. Danny must now figure out who she must seek safety and learn who to trust. Dreadnought’s nemesis is lurking, a mysterious figure that we are told is named Utopia.
I think this book is so important for anyone who has struggled with gender or sexual identity, but again, equally as important in its exploration of a teen who is learning their identity period, regardless of gender or chromosomes. It also shows that personal struggles do not end simply with a magic change… there is still work to be done to complete and accept yourself.
With the world setting, it felt similar to the Marvel Universe, X-Men Universe (or similar) wherein there are multiple metahumans with varying powers. It fits in so well with the popular themes in the movie and comic book genres, I can see how many teens would enjoy this book. I look forward to the next installment in the series!
Dreadnought was released on January 24, 2017 by Diversion Publishing.
Note: Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this remarkable eARC.