Book/Rant Review: Dreadnought by April Daniels



Genre: Science Fiction, Superhero Book

Publisher: Diversion Publishing

Length: 276 pages

Format: ebook

Rating: 1.5 stars

Publication Date: January 27th 2017




Publisher’s description

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero.

Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Book Review

Quick disclaimer: this review is going to be pretty ranty.


Danny is a girl born in the wrong body. She knows it and has been keeping it secret from her family for a long time. One day, while painting her toenails behind a supermarket, she finds herself in the middle of a fight between two superheroes and it ends quite badly for the good guy. Dreadnought is one of the most famous superhero in the US and well, Danny didn’t expect him to die and pass all of his powers into her hands. She finds herself being the new Dreadnought and having her dearest wish fullfilled. She now has the body she only wanted to have… whiwh means that she has to find a way to explain why she is now a girl to her family.


Dreadnought was one of my most anticipated releases last year and I preordered it weeks before its release. I had high expectations going in because I couldn’t imagine how it could fail with such an amazing premise. I love superheroes stories, I love both Marvel and DC’s universe and I watch a ridiculous amount of superhero movies and shows I was extremely interested by the fact that the main character is transgender and I was so prepared to love this.

Well, obviously, I didn’t.

I have several complaints about this book and I don’t really know how to start.

First of all, it was obvious that it was a debut, the writing felt young and awkward, the characters are as flat as can be and the story was very predictable. I can tolerate bad writing and meh plot if the characters are multi-dimentional but it definitely wasn’t the case here.

Danny, while being the main character, was a complete cardboard cutout. The book was narrated from her perspective but after spending almost 300 pages in her head, I still know next to nothing about her. Sure she wants to be a girl and she struggles to explain it to her family but that’s all. She doesn’t have any hobbies: she saves people because she’s able to do so but doesn’t have any particular characteristics. She’s an idea not a person.

Same with every other character actually. Even her best friend, David, isn’t fleshed out at all. His first idea after seeing Danny in her new body is to stare at her (enormous) boobs and the day after, to ask her on a date. Is it normal behaviour? No, I’m sorry, if one day one of my male friend turns up in a female body, I would have a bit more questions, like “what happened to you dude?” and “are you okay?”. All the characters are devices to move the plot forward, they don’t feel like human beings. All of the characters have one role to play and can be described in a few words: the pervese BFF, the transphobic superhero, the nice girl, the sexy one, the friendly one, the bully etc etc… That’s not character building for me.

However, I could have seen past that and enjoyed the book for what it was if I didn’t have to deal with all the sexist and just completely WTF moments in this book that really pushed my nerves.

I know nothing about transitionning so I can’t attest about the effects on one’s body but I’m sure it doesn’t turn people into dumbass, so how am I supposed to react when one of the first remark Danny makes after being transformed into a girl is

Suddenly, I am worried about getting fat, which is something that hasn’t happened to me before.

What. The. Fuck. Oh yeah, because all the girls have issues with their bodies and weight obviously. I mean, who has heard of a confident girl? It doesn’t exist. Right?…

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "facepalm gif"


Also, in this book Danny makes countless remarks on how much she feels more emotional since being a girl and how she is so much irritable now. Why, oh why… I mean this is ridiculous, yes hormons are a thing but being a girl doesn’t systematically mean that you have mood swings. I am a girl and I am calmer than a lot of my male friends. Men are not robots and women are not bipolar, it is ridiculous. Girls don’t all wear pink and “girly things” as Danny always seem to thing and they are not prone to be more emotional being, I just do not get why it had to be in this book.

So yeah, I can’t for the life of me recommend this to anyone. The characters are flat, the story is boring, the writing isn’t good and some passages pushed all my wrong buttons. I won’t give this book one star because I found the relationship between Danny and her parents interesting and, from the reviews I have seen from people who transitionned, it seems like good representations. However, it’s the only good point.

For me, this book feels like a first draft that was published without any changes made by an editor. Lots of things could have been improved and left out. Because of that, I just won’t be reading the sequel. I just don’t care enough to want to know more about this world and the characters, I wish I gave up on this book because I just feel like I lost my time.

Please read something else.

1.5 stars

13 thoughts on “Book/Rant Review: Dreadnought by April Daniels

  1. *OUCH*
    I sympathize with you (and with Captain Picard as well… 😀 ): there is nothing worse than opening a long-awaited book with great expectations and being disappointed – and disappointed so deeply by this kind of fortune-cookie stereotypes…
    Best luck with your next book!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read this one, and yes, even superhero books with amazing premises can fail, sadly. I agree with you on the characters all being cardboard cut-outs thing. The story was also so SCRIPTED. Everyone acted a certain way to convey a certain message. I did give this book a middling rating because I took in account things like debut author and small-ish publisher, and I even considered reading the sequel. However some of the reviews I’ve seen for it make me think it suffers from the same issues with generalizing and stereotypes. I doubt I will continue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah exactly it felt scripted! At first I wanted to give a more tone-down review but then I re-read a couple of passages and I couldn’t haha. I don’t want to be unfair but I really disliked it and even with such a cool premise, I really don’t want to read more. 😦


  3. Several years late, but I want to thank you for this review. I came into Dreadnought fresh off the Extraordinaries, a much better queer YA novel–and I made it six pages before Danny’s mental voice wore me out. I’ve slogged all the way through some pretty terrible books, and I know something about dysmorphia, being young and confused and ashamed…but the level of misogyny, combined with the vapid, ranting narration put me right off. I’m glad I gave it up.

    Liked by 1 person

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