Dreadnought by April Daniels is a coming-of-age story about a young transgender character who becomes a heroine. Written in first person from the pov of the main character, Danny, the story wastes no time revealing a significant life change at the beginning of the book. Due to a power shift from a dying hero, Danny gains superpowers and experiences a gender change from male to female.
The author writes a fun and engaging story with clever dialogue, fluid world-building, and a well-crafted plot. What I found to be the most interesting aspect of the story is the way she tackled the issues of transitioning and coping with friends, family, and society.
One example of this is the incredibly honest rendition of Danny navigating the first conversation with her parents as a femal. She springs the gender change on them and does her best to handle the reactions of each parent. Her father insists Danny is his son and immediately begins to schedule doctor appointments to “fix” Danny as soon as possible.
April’s delivery of the conversations is highly realistic, not only with family but also with friends. Danny experiences a difficult relationship change with her male best friend throughout the story, including his inability to see her as a friend now that he is attracted to her.
This book delves into childhood trauma, transphobia, confusion, and blatant bigotry. The author does not hold back on these topics so anyone wanting to read the book should be prepared to have those topics brought up. However, the story is well-done and the portrayal of what a transgender girl might experience with family and friends is something I would like to see more of in literature, especially the young adult genre.
In her own words, April says, “My goal with my writing is to create the sort of fiction I wish I’d had access to as a kid. Growing up, I never saw any depictions of trans women that wasn’t about us being pathetic victims who should have seen it coming, or vile, invasive monsters who deserve immediate death. I never saw anything that let a “boy” become the girl she wanted to be. Any story about troubling gender always treated it as a bad thing, a threat or problem to be neutralized. I don’t think I ever saw or read a story that said you can just…be a girl, and that’s fine.
Non-patronizing fiction about transgender women is so important because for many of us, there are no depictions of ourselves in the media other than as victims or monsters. So I write books about transgender superheroes.”
This book is part of a trilogy so if you want to keep up with April as she continues the series you can find her patreon here.