Book description for Nemesis Book One: Dreadnought:
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 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.
Before I get into this review, I should get into how I came across this series. You know those sitcoms where a bunch of people who barely know each other move into an apartment together, and there’s usually that token gay guy or lesbian? Maybe even someone who’s transgender who lives down the hall?
Well, in my apartment of three, I’m the token cis straight girl.
One of my roommates doesn’t read much. The other, whom I went to college with and then somehow managed to convince her to move in with me (this being before I knew how much her cat would hate my furniture), is a bigger bookworm than I am. So she’s the one who loaned me Dreadnought.
After reading it, I then proceeded to steal book two from her bookshelf before she could read it.
I regret nothing!
Anyway, going to the review itself, this series is amazing. April Daniels takes a very realistic approach to how supers would operate in the real world, and how they would react to the most powerful, iconic superhero coming out as transgender. All of the characters, even the villains, are intriguing and complicated, making me thirst for more.
In fact, that is the only criticism I have of this series. Danny meets a lot of cool characters and fellow superheroes, like Kinetiq, Calamity, Calamity’s ex-supervillain mother, and a handful of others. But we don’t really get into their characters. Which is especially weird for Calamity, who’s Danny’s new best friend and eventual love interest. The cowgirl supersoldier is from a family of supers, and while she mentions the family dynamic a couple of times, we don’t really get a clear picture of it. Like, why exactly are they letting their teenage daughter run around the city and illegally fight crime? Her mother used to be a supervillain: what impact does that have on her? Come to think of it, why does Calamity want to be a superhero so much, anyway?
And Kinetiq? We know next to nothing about them, except that they’re Israeli-American and gender non-binary. That’s it. We don’t even get a clear description of their powers!
There will be a third book in this series (yay!), so hopefully Daniels will address some of these questions, and show us more of the supporting cast.
Of course, the reason Daniels doesn’t spend much time on the other characters is because all of it is centered on the main character, Danny, who is fascinating. There are a lot of reasons to like and sympathize with this character, but her best moments are when she’s either being a sassy sarcastic bitch (like myself), or when she’s having a fangirl moment. Because she is a fangirl, through and through. Imagine a hardcore DC comic book geek who is sucked into the DC Universe and is granted Superman-esque powers. That’s Danny. It’s adorable.
All in all, this is a fantastic story with some unique viewpoints on American society regarding gender, sexuality, race, economic class, politics, and pretty much everything else, all mixed together into a delicious smoothie digestible for young adult readers. It’s my favorite kind of book, in that it has amazing characters, an engaging narrative arc, and I was able to learn more about a real group of people different from myself. That is young adult literature at its best.
I am now on Patreon!
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This week I have added two new pages to the website.
The Favorites page is an ongoing list of all of my favorite movies, TV shows, and books that feature marginalized groups, be it women, people of color, the queer community, and/or people with disabilities.
The For Writers page is exactly what it sounds like: a list of resources I think would be helpful for other speculative fiction authors. While this blog and website was not originally geared toward teaching/helping other writers, I've found that a lot of people who love reading like I do also want to try their hand at writing.
So take a look at the new pages and let me know what you think! I'm especially interested in hearing your opinion on the Favorites page. I'm always looking to add to my reading and watching lists!
Black characters--or I should say, well-written, non-stereotypical black characters--can be hard to come by in sci-fi and fantasy. Chances are, if the book is written by a white person, almost all of the characters are white, and those that aren’t are minor and two-dimensional. Even the best authors are guilty of this. Does anyone recall seeing any black wizards in Hogwarts?
For those of us well-intentioned white SFF authors, we see this and want to help. But we don’t want to come across as racist by badly writing a black character, so the question is: how do you write black characters?
The good news: it’s pretty easy.
Yes, this is very similar to how you write women characters. Remember: it’s not the person themselves who are different because of something as superficial as skin tone. It’s how other people react to that person’s appearance. That is what shapes the character.
Obviously if you’re writing a historical piece, do your research. Adhere to the rules of slavery, segregation, and whatever other horribly racist mandate we had going on at the time.
And no matter what genre you’re writing, even high fantasy or super futuristic sci-fi where you can create all of society’s rules, governing race, and ethnicity, there are some stereotypes you want to avoid.
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!