5 Reasons to Read: Dreadnought by April Daniels

Last year, my dad talked to me nonstop about this book called Dreadnought. He did absolutely everything to try to get me to read it, and I resisted out of principle, because I’m not a “superhero novel kind of girl.” I was wrong. What I am is an idiot, because the Nemesis series is freaking fantastic. I figured that out because my dad is an evil genius and sent me a copy while I was at school pretending to study for finals, and so when it came in the mail I stopped pretending and devoured it in two hours.

Here are five reasons you should go do the same thing. You won’t regret it.

1. Trans girl superhero….. enough said.

2. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has saturated the market so completely that I thought it was my only option for Powered People Content™. It’s not! Dreadnought should be required reading for every teenager who’s seen the most recent Avengers movie, as a model of what superhero media could be, if white men didn’t run Hollywood.

The nail polish is a nice deep red. I’ve been running mostly with blue recently, but I think it’s time for a change. The cotton balls soak up remover and the blue polish rubs off my toes a bit at a time. It feels right. It feels necessary. Painting my toes is the one way I can give voice to this idea inside me that gets heavier every year: 

I’m not supposed to be a boy.

Accurate! Representation! Matters! And! You! Can! Find! It! In! Dreadnought!

3. Beyond creating a world in which superheroes aren’t wrapped in vestiges of 20th century culture, Daniels also provides for government regulation of superheroes in a way that’s well thought out and easy to understand. There’s cool lingo, like calling superheroes “capes” and differentiating between whitecapes and blackcapes, with morally ambiguous graycapes in between. There’s superhero teams like the Legion, who give out full and provisional memberships depending on age and ability. There’s some people who call their powers “special abilities” and use them to be flying couriers or invulnerable firefighters.

Hearing about the practical and boring stuff is an indulgent surprise, if you love superheroes. It’s like getting an order of fries and finding that one accidental but delicious onion ring that makes the whole meal that much sweeter.

4. Did I mention the whole trans girl superhero thing? Well, there’s that, and there’s also the fact that the narrative clearly acknowledges that anyone who doesn’t give Danny the respect she deserves is an asshole and should be treated as such.

“Some of them seem uncomfortable about me being transgender.” It comes out almost as a mutter, and I feel like such a tool. Almost as if by not speaking up strongly I’m betraying myself, but by saying anything at all I’m betraying them. 

“There. You see?” Calamity nods sharply. “Whitecapes are happy to draw neat little lines that make neat little boxes and act like they’re Justice with her scales, but the moment someone doesn’t fit into their cute little grid, suddenly they don’t quite care about what’s fair or not, do they?”

“Some of them really stood up for me.” 

“Did they kick the other ones off the team?”

“No, of course not.”

“Then they’re aiding and abetting your enemy.” 

Who cares if you save the world? That isn’t enough, not if you continually and maliciously use the wrong pronouns to address someone. It doesn’t matter how often you claim you’re a feminist– a good hero can still be a bad person!

5. There’s a fantastic sequel that you can dive right into when you’re done, so you don’t have to deal with that this-book-was-so-good-and-I’m-sad-it’s-over feeling that tends to take over upon finishing a story like Dreadnought.

Plus, the next book gives you queer love story mixed with a world ending threat and teenage drama. Basically everything you could ever ask for, and it’s all right there in one novel.

What are you waiting for?

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