Greetings, readers! My name is Sareeta Domingo, and I’m an author and fiction editor. It’s my great pleasure to be bringing you a Book of the Week, each week here on Morning Mari.
Last week was Transgender Awareness Week, which occurs annually in November as a means of drawing visibility to transgender rights, and issues faced by the trans community. It leads to Transgender Day of Remembrance day on the 20th November, which honours the memory of trans people who unfortunately lost their lives due to anti-trans violence.
This put me in mind of a novel I read recently that is perfect for younger teen readers who are fans of coming-of-age tales—but especially, those who love superhero stories, comic books and films. This week, my Book of the Week is Dreadnought by April Daniels, Book One in her Nemisis duology. It’s a pacy, fun and emotionally-rich read, in which a trans character is quite literally given the opportunity to be the hero of their own story.
The book follows Danny Tozer, a fifteen-year-old just coming to terms with her trans identity in a world where superheroes are known as part of the fabric of society in fictional New Port City. In a fantastically heart-pumping opening to the story, Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero, falls from the sky and dies right in front of Danny. But before he dies, he passes his powers on to her, and she finds herself not only with superpowers, but with her body transformed as she’s always felt it should be.
Now Danny has to contend with her best friend’s creepily sexist advances, her own father’s cruel anti-trans agenda, and learning how to navigate the politics of the superhero group to whom she must report with her newfound abilities. But the story is thrilling and action packed, following Danny and one of my favourite supporting characters, Calamity (also known as Sarah) as they battle to stop a supervillan hell bent on wreaking havoc on the world as they know it.
There are nods to classic comic book tropes, and the superhero storyline is, of course, analogous with the challenges of teenagehood, amplified by the complexities of Danny’s trans identity. The book is full of great interior descriptions and sparky dialogue. In interviews, the author, a trans woman, has discussed her use of Danny’s instant ‘transition’ as a means to bypass the fetishisation of this process in the media.